Located in the Pike National Forest, just north of Lake George, Platte River Trail #654 provides an enjoyable hike that features cooling wooded areas, the South Platte River and, of course, great views. While not named on my maps, locals have told me that this area is known as "Wildcat Canyon." (I didn't see any wild cats.)
Although mostly an easy to moderate trail, there's a more strenuous uphill section, but since it's on the final leg of the hike you can skip it all together or just turn around there.
To get there: Take US Highway 24 from 31st Street in Colorado Springs for approximately 35.5 miles to County Road 77. Turn right on CR 77 and go approximately 1.2 miles to County Road 112 — the first right you can take after turning on to CR77. Turn right at the "T" intersection and go another 2 miles to the marked trailhead on your left, past the Happy Meadows campground.
Alternatively, you can find the trail from the north end from the Platte Springs trailhead (Trail # 626) at the end of County Road 210, and hike south then return by re-tracing your path back north, or do it as a two-car shuttle. County Road 210 is 3.5 miles further north from County Road 112, and is marked only with a sign that says "Platte Springs," It's easy to miss. (Heads up that County Road 210 is closed during the winter.)
This hike was done from the south to the north and all distances are based on that direction. All photos are based on south-to-north perspective.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: firstname.lastname@example.org.