Ride Bob: Fall Colors Hikes, the APEX bike event may affect your plans next week; Show your photos | Hiking bob

Fall Colors, Mueller State Park, September 2020

Autumn is here, and with it, the season for leaf viewing. For now, this fall promises to be excellent. We had a lot of humidity and the aspens look healthy and vibrant. Cross your fingers, it holds up.

Invariably I’m asked about places and trails to see the fall colors, and while by no means an exhaustive list (Colorado is a large state), these are my favorite places in the Pikes Peak area (and a little beyond).

  • Colorado Trail # 1776, Segments 5 & 6, Route 285 at Kenosha Pass – Kenosha Pass is a perennial hotspot for fall colors, and with the Colorado Trail junction nearby, you have the option of hiking while enjoying the fall colors. This area is VERY crowded on weekends, so try to visit it on a weekday.
  • Brookside-McCurdy Trail # 607, Hankins Pass Trail # 630 – Take the Brookside-McCurdy Trail to the trailhead just past the Twin Eagles Campground on Park County Road 77, about 15 miles north of Hwy 24 in Lake George. Take path 607 which winds between groves of aspen trees. When it meets the Hankins Pass Trail 630, turn right onto the 630 and follow it for about 0.8 miles through dense stands of aspen until it meets the Lizard Rock Trail. Trails 607 and 630 are in the Lost Creek Wilderness Area and bicycles / motor vehicles are not permitted.
  • Eleven Mile State Park – Although known primarily for its fishing and camping, Eleven Mile also has a nice little trail system and with it, aspen stands against the backdrop of rocky cliffs and the Elevenmile Canyon Reservoir. All trails are easy and accept dogs on a leash. For more information, see my previous column here. Registration fees apply.
  • Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument – The Shootin ‘Star and Twin Rock trails at the east end of the site are easy trails that pass through aspen stands. Best part is a small pond on the Twin Rock Trail about 2 miles from the trailhead. For more information, visit their website. Registration fees apply. Dogs are not allowed on any trail. Registration fees will be waived on September 25 for National Public Lands Day.
  • Mueller State Park – In my opinion, this is the best place near Colorado Springs to see the fall colors. While almost all of the trails are a colorful hike, for my money the best trails are the Buffalo Rock, Cahill Pond, and Moonshine trails at the north end of the park. As an added bonus, the views south of Grouse Mountain (also at the north end of the park) are breathtaking as the sun sets. For more information, visit their website. Registration fees apply. Dogs are not allowed on any trail.

Autumn colors

Fall colors in Mueller State Park, September 2020

  • Dome Rock State Wildlife Area’s – Willow Creek Trail passes through a dense stand of aspen on a rigorous uphill hike. Start at the large parking lot at the bottom of the Dome Rock access road and follow the trail south. The trail climbs steeply for about 3 km through aspen stands. Each visitor 16 years of age and over must have a State Wildlife Area Pass or a hunting or fishing license. Dogs, bicycles and motorized vehicles are not allowed.
  • Horsethief Park, # Trail 704 / Dome Rock # Trail704a – Both of these trails are incredibly popular and very busy on the weekends, so put them on your list of places to visit “when I have time during the week”. From the trailhead on Hwy 67 near the old rail tunnel, take trail 704 until it turns left (north) at the sign for Horsethief Park. The next mile of trail winds through a narrow valley with lots of aspens. Instead of turning left at Horsethief Park, go straight ahead, then turn right on Pancake Rocks Trail. The first mile or so of this trail is a bit more difficult as it goes up through a series of switchbacks and then continues to the rock formation of the same name. Along the way the trail passes through groves of aspen, but the real treat is the view from the Pancake Rocks. To get there, take Hwy 67 south from Hwy 24 at Divide for approximately 9.5 miles.
  • Mount Esther Trail # 754 – Starting at the Crowe Gulch Picnic Area, about 2 miles down the Pikes Peak Highway from the front door, the Mount Esther Trail is an easy to moderate hike through tall grasses and stands of aspens. There is a nice concentration of aspen about 1.25 miles from the trailhead. As a bonus, it’s also a great wildflower hike in the summer. Registration fees apply.
  • Highway 12, through Cuchara – One of the most scenic roads in fall colors, Highway 12 from LaVeta to Cuchara and up to the top of Cuchara Pass always pleases. Hiking trails in the area included the Dodgeton, Baker Creek, and Indian Trails, which can be accessed from the Spring Creek Trailhead, just behind the Water and Sanitation District building just south of Cuchara. , or from the beginning of the Bear Lake Trailhead, at the end of Forest Service Route 422.

If you are wondering when to observe the leaves, this fall foliage prediction card will help you make up your mind.

When hiking and viewing the leaves, remember to follow the Leave No Trace principles and minimize your impact on the environment.

The Pikes Peak APEX Mountain Bike Challenge returns to Colorado Springs from September 23-26. Each day of the event will take place in a different park or section of the National Forest, which can impact your outdoor recreation plans. The event begins at Palmer Park on September 23, during which all roads to the park will be closed until 5 p.m. However, the trails will be open, but park users should exercise caution when cyclists navigate the park. On September 24, the event will take place in the Monument and Woodland Park areas, and on September 25, the event will take place in the Gold Camp Road area. On September 26, the Challenge will be in Cheyenne Cañon. For more details and alternative trail suggestions for each day, visit the Pikes Peak Outdoor Recreation Alliance website. If you don’t want to participate in the event but want to participate in the festivities, you can attend the APEX Outdoor Festival and Expo in America the Beautiful Park on September 25.

If you’ve got great photos of Colorado Springs’ city parks and open spaces, or Cheyenne Mountain State Park, you’ve got the chance to show off your stuff in two photo calendar contests. The Discover Colorado Springs Calendar Contest is now accepting photos through October 5 to compete for a spot on the Department of Parks’ 2022 calendar, while Friends of Cheyenne Mountain State Park is accepting park submissions for their photo calendar contest through. ‘to October 31.

Be wise. Do good things. Leaves no trace.