Ditch the crowds: Quiet hikes around Colorado Springs

Written by Jack Dimmit

As the school year comes to a close each spring, Colorado College students take advantage of the warm weather by getting outside. With so many incredible options for hiking, students are frequently out and about at Garden of the Gods, Palmer Park, or the recently re-opened Manitou Incline. Even though these locations provide for lovely adventures, the trails can frequently look more like an amusement park line than lonesome wilderness. So for those of you looking to check off a few lesser-known hikes, here are some options:

Red Mountain: A relatively short hike and very close to campus, Red Mountain is a perfect option for a quick after-class outing. To get there, head west on Highway 24 towards Manitou and park on Ruxton Street below the Cog Railway. Locate Spring Street and follow the dirt road up to the trail. From there, it is about two miles round trip to the summit, which features the remains of the older and relatively unknown “Red Mountain Incline.” Additionally, you will get 360-degree views of Manitou, Pikes, and Garden of the Gods. This hike is a must-do for students who don’t have a ton of time.

Muscusco Mountain: This is another classic, unknown hike close to Colorado Springs. The start of this hike is a well-signed parking area for Mount Cutler, close to the start of North Cheyenne Canyon Road. Follow a well-maintained trail up the north side of Cheyenne Canyon until you crest a saddle point for spectacular (and free) views of Seven Falls. Continuing around the front of Mt. Cutler is the shorter and more popular option, but instead turn west from the saddle point to head up towards Muscusco. Once you break off the Mount Cutler trail, you will likely not see another group. Keep heading up the ridge, following a faint trail until you reach the summit. For the descent, retrace your steps, or head further west on the ridge to link up with Gold Camp Road for a much longer loop involving multiple trails to get back to the car.

Raspberry Mountain: Raspberry Mountain is about an hour away, located outside of Divide, Colo. on the west side of Pikes Peak. Given its distance from the Springs, this peak sees much less traffic than the closer alternatives. Nevertheless, the summit of Raspberry has one of the most spectacular views of Pikes from the backside, and is definitely worth the 5.6-mile trek. Gaining the true summit requires a few scrambling moves, but they are easy as long as you ascend in the right spot. If you get scared, you are likely off trail, so go back down and look for an easier route to the top.

Mount Rosa: Although accessing this peak can be tough due to mud and ruts on Old Stage Road, it is well worth the adventure. Most four-wheel cars can make it to the trailhead. Once you make it up the road, it’s a five-mile round-trip to the summit. Follow the well-marked trail through spacious meadows and mellow forests, eventually turning up the ridge to the summit. This peak is especially cool considering it is one of the most prominent peaks you can see from campus.

For more specific information on these great hikes and many more, check out www.cospringstrails.com or www.summitpost.com

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