- Bob Falcone
- Bluestream Prairie Open Space is one of many hiking options within 10-or-so miles of Colorado Springs.
Although Colorado is transitioning from “Stay at Home” to “Safer at Home,” there are still plenty of restrictions in place. Some of the state’s smaller mountain counties are still asking — even outright mandating — that non-residents to stay away while they cope with the COVID-19 crisis. Other counties have elected to maintain the more restrictive “Stay at Home” guidelines. Governor Polis has said that people should restrict travel to within 10 miles of their home, even for outdoor recreation. In a city as big as Colorado Springs, some people can travel 10 miles and not even leave the city limits!
There are plenty of parks and urban trails in Colorado Springs, so there is no real lack of places to go for a hike or a bike ride. On the other hand, if you want to get out of your neighborhood and also get away from the crowded places like Palmer Park, Garden of the Gods, or Bear Creek, but still stay within 10 miles, check out these suggestions. To be clear, I bent the rules just a little bit. They might not be within 10 miles of your home, but they are all within 10 miles (or just a bit more) of the nearest Colorado Springs city boundary line. Clear as mud? Great!
To the north of Colorado Springs, there is Black Forest Regional Park, which recently had major post-fire trail reconstruction work. The nearby Fox Run Regional Park, has plenty of trails among towering Ponderosa pines. While you have to keep your pup leashed while on the trails, the park has a nice dog run where you can let Rover run loose a bit. Black Forest Section 16 is a nice, easy 4-mile loop, that is perfect for families, cyclists and equestrians. Ever wonder what a “section 16” is and why there are two of them in El Paso County (there are more, actually)? It all goes back to western expansion. There, I threw in a history lesson, too.
To the east is Bluestem Prairie Open Space, and it’s recent trail expansion. OK, it’s not that far away, but it certainly seems like it. You’ll need to keep Fido home if you visit this one. Also to the easy, Falcon Regional Park, El Paso County’s newest, has lots of open land, and another really nice dog park.
To the south, Fountain Creek Regional Park features ponds, wildlife and wildflowers and nice trails open to all non-motorized uses. If you can, try to catch the sunset over the Willow Springs Ponds at the north end of the park. A bit further south (it’s 12 miles from the city limits — let your conscience be your guide) is Clear Spring Ranch, which is operated by El Paso County, but owned by Colorado Springs Utilities. CSU inexplicably closed it due to COVID-19 concerns until Colorado Springs City Council stepped in and cooler heads prevailed, and the park has been re-opened. Gentle trails, a river running through it and some interesting old buildings make this a nice place to get away.
To the west, the Town of Green Mountain Falls has a number of really great trails. The Catamount Trail is very popular, but if you want something a little less crowded, check out the Crystal Trail, or the Dewey Mountain and Bratton Trails. If you go there, be nice and respect the privacy of the town’s citizens and only park in designated areas.
Be Good. Do Good Things. Maintain Social Distancing.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob’s Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for almost 28 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: firstname.lastname@example.org.