Hiking is one of my favorite activities. Being in nature gives me the chance to rejuvenate and appreciate the beauty of the world. We also like to take our kids hiking. It is so fun to encourage them to explore and find new and interesting things in the outdoors. The fresh air and sunshine cannot be beat, especially in Colorado. The Woodland Park area has some great trails. There are opportunities for long and grueling treks up Pikes Peak, level hikes good for kids, and everything in between. Here are 10 great hikes in and near Woodland Park, CO.
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Limber Pine Trail
The Limber Pine Trail is a short and fairly easy hike. It spans only 0.7 miles and has an elevation gain of 243 feet. The best part about this hike are the views. A section of this trail runs along the western edge of North Catamount Reservoir. If you would like a longer hike, you can connect to the Ridge Trail and the South Catamount Creek Trail. There are many trails and opportunities for recreation on the water in the North Slope Recreation area, which encompasses Crystal Creek Reservoir, South Catamount Reservoir, and North Catamount Reservoir. There is also a visitor center if you need help finding a trail or place to park. Mountain bikers also use this trail, so be on the lookout when hiking.
Lovell Gulch Trail
I personally enjoy hiking trails that are a loop and the Lovell Gulch Trail is one. This trail spans five miles and is moderate in intensity. Only bring kids if they are up for hiking for five miles with some steep inclines. The trail is best used from May until October, if you are going out in colder months, make sure that you are prepared for snow and ice to be on the trail. Dogs are allowed, but they must remain in a leash. Lovell Gulch Trail is located within Pike National Forest.
The trailhead is easily accessible and can be found off of Rampart Range Road, next to the City Road Maintenance Building. The hike is very hilly and there are aspen trees along the route, making it a nice fall hike when the colors are changing. The wildflowers also make it a nice hike in the spring. If you are looking for nice views on the hike, take a right at the fork when you begin the loop, the mountain views on the second part of the hike will be much nicer by choosing this direction.
The Crags Trail
We hiked a portion of the Crags Trail in October with my brother-in-law, his girlfriend, and their dog. We took the turn to go toward Devil’s Playground (which stretches 8.5 miles), but did not make it the full distance of that trail. We had to turn around because our kids were feeling quite done with our adventure. In hindsight, we should have stuck with the Crags Trail. This trail is 4.8 miles out and back. There are lovely wildflowers during the spring and summer and nice colors in the fall.
It is best hiked May through October, as the snow makes things slippery during the winter. Sometimes the road to the trailhead is closed during the winter, so also be aware that this could prolong your hike. There is only 480 feet of elevation gain, making it a good choice for kids or newcomers to the area. Also note that you can get to the top of Pikes Peak from this trail.
This 13.1 mile out and back adventure is only recommended for experienced hikers and it will take all day, so start early. To get to the trailhead, turn left after Mueller State Park onto Teller County Road 62. You will drive through Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp, past the Raspberry Mountain Trailhead, and then to the Crags Trailhead. There is also a campground hear the trailhead.
Rampart Reservoir via Rainbow Gulch Trail
My husband and I did this trail without the kids, but it would be an excellent one for kids. The trail is only 3.4 miles out and back and is not very strenuous. There is a nice creek that runs by a good portion of the trail. Take a little rest and watch for fish. We saw some brook trout swimming around. We did this trail during the summer when there was a good amount of snow melt running through.
A few parts of the trail were underwater, but it was easy enough to get around. The trail ends at Rampart Reservoir, which is gorgeous. We came back to the reservoir a few weeks later with the kids and our boat to go fishing. There is a big parking lot for this trailhead. Take Rampart Range Road out of Woodland Park and then turn right on Forest Road 300. Travel about 2.3 miles and the parking lot will be on your left. There are options to connect to other trails for a longer hike all the way around the reservoir.
Mueller State Park
There are more than 44 miles of well maintained trails available in Mueller State Park. You will need a state parks pass or pay a day use fee to explore the park. No pets are allows on the trails here. The trails interconnect so that you can make as short or as long of a hike as you wish. There are many options that are great for kids. One good one is Trail #11 Lost Pond, which is pictured above.
This trail is only .8 miles round trip. The trail leads to Lost Pond, which is lovely and provides ample opportunities for finding wildlife. My sister and her family saw salamander larvae last time they were there. Camping is available at Mueller State Park. Consider camping and taking a few days to explore the trails. Mueller State Park is located 11 miles southwest of Woodland Park. Take Highway 24 out of town, turn left on Highway 67 in Divide and the park will be on your right a few miles down the road.
Pancake Rocks and Horsethief Falls Trail
My husband and I hiked the Horsethief Falls Trail in September a few years ago. We tried to take our kids on this same trail a different time, and they pooped out rather quickly. The ascent at the beginning is a bit intense. We only went as far as Horsethief Falls (as seen in the picture above) but you can continue on to Pancake Rocks. If you do the whole thing, it is 6.7 miles out and back. This is a popular trail, the lot fills up quickly, especially in the summer, but there is parking along the road as well. Most of the trail is shaded and there are some great views. The Horsethief Falls Trailhead is a few miles south of Mueller State Park off Highway 67.
Raspberry Mountain Trail
The Raspberry Mountain Trailhead is located very close to the Crags Trailhead. This trail is also very popular and is 4.6 miles out and back. The hike starts out with some short and steep switchbacks, but the trail eventually levels out and sends hikers through meadows and forests. Hikers will travel along the Ring the Peak Trail for part of this hike and then leave that trail to get to the top of Raspberry Mountain. It is an intense uphill climb to get to the top. This trail features some lovely wildflowers and nice views. Be prepared for snow on the trail if you hike in the winter months and always be prepared for a thunderstorm during the summer.
Dome Rock Trail
If you are looking for a challenge, consider tackling the Dome Rock Trail. This trail is an 11.2 mile loop that has an elevation gain of 1,778 feet. There is much to see on this hike. There are wild flowers, aspen trees, huge rock formations made of granite, beaver ponds, streams and creeks, and lovely views of the Rocky Mountains. To get to this trail, head south on Highway 67 past Mueller State Park and turn on Teller County Road 61.
This is a dirt road and there will be signs for the Dome Rock Trailhead (there are two parking lots). This trail is only for hiking or horseback riding. No mountain bikes are allowed and no dogs are allowed. Know that there is a restricted timeframe when this trail can be hiked because this is an area where bighorn sheep give birth and care for their lambs. The available timeframe is mid-July through the end of November.
The Centennial Trail is a mostly flat trail that parallels the side of the road. Yes, this does mean that it is near traffic, but it also allows you to easily get to attractions along Highway 67. The trail is partially paved, but is very cracked. Consider staying at one of the nearby campgrounds and utilizing the Centennial Trail to get to other campgrounds and hiking opportunities, to downtown Woodland Park, and to Manitou Lake. The South Meadows, Colorado, and Painted Rocks Campgrounds all have good access to this trail. If you travel the whole thing, it is 14.7 miles. The elevation gain is over 1,000 feet, so be prepared to sweat if you travel the whole way. Start in downtown Woodland Park or on the northern end of the trail. It is a great trip on a bicycle.
I hiked the Gill Trail while my husband fished the South Platte River in Cheesman Canyon. I enjoy fishing too, but he could fish from sun up to sun down and I can usually only handle a few hours. If you do the whole thing, it is 9.8 miles out and back. I only did a section of it as my husband was fishing. The trail is narrow in some parts and not very well-marked, so come prepared for an adventure. Much of the trail is also exposed to the sun, so wear sunscreen and bring lots of water. This would be a tough hike for kids, as there is some rock scrambling at some points, but the views of the canyon, river, and dam are gorgeous. The trailhead is located on County Road 126 off of Highway 67 in Deckers.
Marie grew up in the Colorado Springs area, moved away as a young adult, and recently came back to raise her children. Marie and her family enjoy hiking and the Woodland Park area is one of their favorite places to enjoy the gorgeous scenery and crisp mountain air.