There is no doubt that no matter what your personal feelings are about the COVID-19 restrictions that have been in place for several months, they have really been a downer as far a outdoor recreation goes. But, restrictions are loosening up, so it's time to start featuring places to hike again.
Before we start, a few basic rules: If you're ill, don't go hiking. If you think you've been exposed to someone who is ill, don't go hiking. Although it can be difficult, or even impossible on some trails, try to maintain an appropriate "social distance" of 6 feet or more from others. If you feel you MUST be 6 feet from others at all times, including when hiking, then a single-track trail is not the right choice for you. Bring a bandanna, face mask or a buff to cover your face for those times when you can't avoid being within 6 feet of others. Pay attention to local rules, regulations and closures. Some towns are still asking that outsiders stay away. Be a good neighbor, and do as they ask.
This week's hike is a scenic loop hike on the north side of the North Catamount Reservoir, on the north slope of Pikes Peak (is all that "north" enough for ya?). There are a few different ways from which to approach this loop, and in this column the approach will be a combination of the easiest and least expensive.
To Get There: From U.S. Hwy. 24 between Woodland Park and Divide, turn south on Edlowe Road (look for the fire station and church on the corner). Follow Edlowe Road to theCatamount Ranch Open Space
and park at the parking lot on the left just after road goes from pavement to dirt. Do not continue down the dirt road past the parking lot.
Alternative starting points for this loop: You can start the loop part of this hike by driving up the Pikes Peak Highway (fees apply) to the North Slope Recreation Area. Park at the trailhead at the south end of the dam, go across the dam and pick up the loop, going counter-clockwise. When you get to where the Mule Deer Trail meets the Catamount Trail, turn left and then left on the Mackinaw Trail to complete the loop. This route is about 5.5 miles round trip.
From Green Mountain Falls, hike up the Catamount Trail from the end of Hondo Avenue, past the falls, through the Garden of Eden and through the "Flume." When the trail ends at the road, turn right and hike up the hill to the north end of the dam to start the loop, going counter-clockwise. When you get to where the Mule Deer Trail meets the Catamount Trail, turn left and then left on the Mackinaw Trail to complete the loop.This route is almost 10 miles round-trip and much more difficult.
Things you need to know: When done from the Catamount Ranch trailhead, this hike is a fairly easy or moderate 7 miles, depending on your fitness and experience. It features mostly gently rolling hills and is predominately on soft terrain. There is a pit toilet at the trailhead, but no water is available. All parts of this loop are open to pedestrians and cyclists, but no motorized vehicles or horses are allowed. Leashed dogs are allowed. As always, bring water, snacks, extra layers of clothing, tell someone where you're going and when you expect to be back and check the weather forecast prior to starting out.
Be Good. Do Good Things.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for almost 28 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: email@example.com.