For those who don't enjoy working out indoors, the area around Colorado Springs offers some of the most scenic outdoor environments in the country. There are plenty of parks and trails at every level that are great for regular walking or jogging. Some have extremely level trails without much elevation, offering an easy trek. Others have a greater amount of elevation, allowing joggers and walkers to challenge themselves. Each of the following best trails in Colorado Springs rewards visitors with natural vistas, opportunities to see wildlife, and more.
Palmer Loop Trail
Palmer Loop Trail Amenities
Views of Red Rock and Garden of the Gods
Palmer Trail takes visitors past fields of wildflowers, rocky boulders, and stunning views over the course of its 5.7-mile loop. This heavily trafficked trail is rated moderate and rises nearly 1,300 feet throughout its course. Easily accessible from Colorado Springs, it makes a great and convenient day hike.
Hikers should be sure to bring along plenty of water when visiting this loop during summer. The first mile of the loop has little shade, and heat also radiates from the nearby red rocks. After the first mile, there is more shade cast by the surrounding ponderosa pine forest, which is significantly cooler and refreshing during summer. This is a very popular trail, so hikers should prepare for lots of foot traffic on weekends, along with the occasional horseback traveler.
The trail's gentle elevation allows for some great views of the Red Rock and Garden of the Gods open spaces. The incline picks up later on, making for a slightly more challenging hike. The trail intersects with other side trails, but all the junctures are marked to avoid confusion.
Most people use this trail in the months of March through November. During the winter, the more-elevated areas are likely to have snow and ice.
Seven Bridges Trail
Seven Bridges Trail Amenities
1,600 feet of elevation
Easier side trails
Leashed dogs allowed
The popular Seven Bridges Trail follows the North Cheyenne Creek and crosses seven bridges along the way. The bridges are small and picturesque footbridges, often without rails. This simple paved trail is an excellent choice for those hiking with kids or pets.
The trail extends 3.8 miles and is rated moderate, with about 1,600 feet of elevation gain throughout the length of the trail. Sights along the way include Helen Hunt Falls, large boulders, and, in the fall, stunning aspen foliage. Hikers enjoy this route because it provides plenty of shade — even during summer. The trail is mostly used from March to November each year.
Many hikers walk from the trailhead through the gate to Gold Camp Road, then follow the trail to the creek access at the end. This is a great place for hikers to soak their feet in the cool water for a moment before heading back. More ambitious hikers can continue on the trail to Jones Park to extend their hike. There are also less-populated side trails to explore and rest. Hikers who wish to bring their dogs should know that they'll have to keep their pets on a leash and should bring along bags to trek out any waste.
Pulpit Rock Park Loop
Pulpit Rock Park Loop Amenities
Two different difficulties
Popular for biking and hiking
Beautiful summit views
Pulpit Rock can be seen by daily travelers as they drive down the I-25 corridor, as it protrudes high above University Village and the highway. The trail provides either a challenging hike or a gentle stroll that are both very accessible from Colorado Springs. This is a popular destination for walking, jogging, and mountain biking.
This loop offers hikers two different experiences. Those who prefer a gentler hike can walk on the main path to get to the peak. Those who are looking for a more challenging experience can use the steeper trails that travel more directly to the top. The main loop is about four miles, while the more direct route up to the summit is two. Hikers traveling on either are rewarded by a stunning view from the summit.
It's best for hikers to bring hiking poles when traversing the higher parts of this trail at certain times of the year, as ice and snow can be found in the colder months. The ground at the top may be slick and muddy, even when the trail is drier below.
Helen Hunt Falls
Helen Hunt Falls Amenities
Located in North Cheyenne Cañon Park
Accessible via Columbine Trail
Mild elevation increase
Dramatic Helen Hunt Falls can be accessed by taking a short stroll from the parking area of North Cheyenne Cañon Park. However, those who want to get in some physical activity before arriving at the Falls have the option of traveling down the four-mile Columbine Trail that starts at the bottom of Cheyenne Canyon. There is a mild elevation increase over the span of the trail, which is just enough for a mildly challenging jog, but not so much that it is difficult to complete.
The 35-foot-tall falls are most beautiful during the late spring and early summer when the water volume is at its peak, although it's possible to get a good view after a hard rain. There's a visitor center that is open during the summer and offers gifts and snacks for sale. During the winter, the frozen water of the falls can be stunning to take in. However, hikers should exercise caution on the trails, as they can be icy and slick.
Helen Hunt Falls is a popular destination, so hikers should be ready for crowds on weekends. The parking area closest to the Falls often fills quickly, especially during vacation season. It is advised to either go early or head further up the canyon to find additional parking areas, and to also drive with care in this area, as there are many cyclists along the roads.
Mt. Cutler Trail
Mt. Cutler Trail Amenities
Very slight elevation gain
Leashed dogs allowed
Good trail for kids and beginners
Mt. Cutler is a perfect choice for people who are jogging or hiking with kids, or for those who are new to hiking. The trail is well-defined, so there is little chance of winding up going the wrong way. On weekends, the trail is popular and filled with local and visiting families. Because the elevation gain is slight (less than 500 feet), this is an ideal trail for jogging. It doesn't take long to head to the end of the trail and back.
This short trail covers just two miles in a round trip, which makes it a great one to fit into the middle of the day between other activities. Many people do bring their dogs along for this gentle hike. However, dogs must be kept on a leash for the comfort of other visitors.
A Trail for Everyone in Colorado Springs
These and many more trails and loops around Colorado Springs make it easy to get out and enjoy nature while getting a little exercise. By varying the places that they visit, local people and visitors can see different sights while also getting in regular physical activity. Whether you live downtown in a condo or a new construction home in a less-walkable neighborhood, Colorado Springs has plenty of walking, jogging, and hiking opportunities.