Hiking in the Springs area
If you live in the Colorado Springs area you are in a perfect location for some great hiking that isn't far away. You don't have to drive hours and hours to find mountains and trails since most of the great trails I've found are only about 50 minutes away from Colorado Springs up in Divide. Divide is home to many famous trails like Devil's Playground, The Crags trail, and Pancake Rocks. Here's a list of some of these trails, pictures, and why I believe they are fantastic for the outdoor enthusiast and avid hiker. I intentionally avoided listing Pikes Peak because this one is obvious, so I chose to list other great hiking trails that most people wouldn't immediately know about.
The CragsCredit: Self
I recently came to this trail with a few friends and found the sheer beauty of this trail stunning. The trail isn't difficult at all; in fact I would highly recommend it as a great starter trail for those who aren't used to hiking and mountaineering. You start off going uphill a ways in a wooded area and finally reach a more flat clearing with breathtaking views of the mountains. There are various hills that climb almost vertically up which are difficult to handle but rewarding and plenty of rock climbing areas if you have the equipment to get up them. After walking for some time you will start to head uphill again on winding trails and a few switchbacks. The trail is simple to navigate and going up and down is a cinch. The view when you finally reach the top of the mountain is amazing as you can see for hundreds of miles all around you. The Collegiate Mountains are clearly in view and you can find one of a number of rocks to sit on and relax. Overall a great first hike for beginners and newbies and the view and beauty will get any beginner obsessed.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, then a video is worth ten thousand. I couldn't possibly get a picture of a 360 degree view of this summit in Pancake Rocks so I uploaded a video to Youtube instead. The Pancake Rocks trail takes the same beginning trail as Sentinel Point and breaks off to the right. Another fork in the trail will take you to The Falls to the left or Pancake Rocks to the right. The trail is a decent incline and a decent distance. A great next step for any beginner. The trail is beautiful and once you get to the top of the trail the western view of the Collegiate Mountains and the Victor Mine is spectacular. Bushwhacking up further on an nice area me and my trail buddy found lead us to the top of a rock formation that gave us a 360 degree view of the whole area. This Youtube video I uploaded is that view we found. It wasn't easy to climb up there, but it was worth it. Overall Pancake Rocks is a great trail and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a great graduating hike before tackling these next trails I listed.
This one is a huge leap forward in difficulty from the last two and is probably the most difficult hiking you can experience in the Colorado Springs area. The reason for this is when you reach the base of Sentinel Point it's an almost vertical hike to the summit. When you reach the beginning of the trail to go towards Sentinel Point there are frequent switchbacks until you finally reach the open valley area. At this point you just take a nice leisurely walk to the base of the mountain which isn't difficult at all; so far so good. Reaching the base of Sentinel Point is when the hike gets difficult because it is extremely physically demanding. For each mile you hike up you are going approximately 2000 feet so the climb is steady and vertical. This means that you will need adequate fuel so your body doesn't give out and frequent breaks are a must to catch your breath. If you don't take your time then your body will begin to get dizzy and disoriented due to lack of oxygen. You are going to be hitting around 13000 feet after all, so take breaks or else you will feel like throwing up and become light headed. Once you hike passed the tree line you will reach the false summit which means there is still a half a mile to go. After getting passed this then you can reach the summit and enjoy a spectacular view.
This trail is named this way because when you are in the main location lightning in storms is said to fly from rock to rock. The trail is basically a complete incline from the moment you branch off from the Crags trail. It is extremely difficult and having just completed this hike today I venture that it's actually tougher than Sentinel Point due to the very last stretch going almost full vertical. Devil's Playground is the stepping stone for reaching Pikes Peak summit as it's only another 2 miles to reach it, so we passed people going down the trail saying that they made the Peaks summit. Really beautiful scenery as shown in the picture here, and I also shot a video at the summit to give you an idea of what it looks like. It seems kind of sad when we worked so hard to reach this summit and seeing the peak's roadway where people drive to the top. Not that it's a bad thing that people drive up, it's wonderful that they can experience Pikes Peak as well, it's just a little disheartening is all. The trail going down is also toughespecially initially since that stretch from the tree line goes full vertical so if you slip you can be landing full force on rocks. Be careful both in your ascent and descent and you should be able to complete this hike in about 4-5 hours depending on how fast you move and how in shape you are. Hitting 13000 feet will quickly leave you breathless and high altitude sickness creeps on fast. Here's my summit video below to show you what it looks like.
There are hundreds of hiking locations in the Colorado Springs area, but these 4 to me are the cream of the crop and can't be beat. If you are looking for a good hike in your adventures out here in this area I encourage you to check these out, though I would advise against trying to summit Sentinel Point or Devil's Playground if you haven't experienced the mountain air before due to the height. If you are looking for a pleasant trail to experience try Pancake Rocks or The Crags first and see how you like it. The Crags is very famous and the view at the top is beautiful for such a short hike. Good luck and enjoy your hiking adventures in the Colorado Springs area!