- Bob Falcone
There are plenty of trails that were constructed as loops — the Sundance Trail in Cheyenne Mountain State Park is a hugely popular example — but sometimes it's more fun to stitch together a couple of trails to build your own loop. Many of these hikes are also great mountain biking routes, too.
Here are just a few of my favorite loop hikes in North Cheyenne Cañon.
A quick loop that combines moderate difficulty, great views and a popular destination is the loop over Mt Buckhorn. There are a few ways to do this, and one of the easiest is a 4-mile trek that starts at the "gravel pit" or "Four-corners" parking lot just past Helen Hunt Falls, where Gold Camp Road, High Drive and Cheyenne Canon Road all meet. Go down the closed part of Gold Camp Road for about 2/3 of a mile, turn up to the side trail, then turn right a few hundred feet later. Follow that up to a four-way intersection, turn right to go up and over Mt Buckhorn, and at High Drive, turn right again to loop back to the parking lot.
If you want to make things more challenging, instead of going down Gold Camp Road, go up High Drive from the same parking lot. After about a mile the road then starts back downhill where Captain Jacks Trail crosses High Drive. Continue down High Drive and 1.5 miles later, where the road bends to the right, take the 666 Trail to the left. Follow it up for another 1.5 miles — a long, steep climb — to where it meets the 776 trail on the left. Follow the 776 Trail for a little over a half mile to a 4-way intersection with trail 667. From here, you've got a few choices: Turn left to go over Mt Buckhorn, down to High Drive and then turn right back to the parking lot; or turn right (west), go past Kineo Mt. to Jones Park, then left back down the 7 Bridges Trail to Gold Camp Road and the parking lot. A third choice from the 4-way intersection is to go straight on 667 down to Gold Camp Road and then left on Gold Camp back to the parking lot. That route makes a 6.5-mile loop.
Another loop in North Cheyenne Canon uses the Mid-Columbine Trail. For this hike, park at the Mid-Columbine trail head, about a half-mile from the park entrance. Hike up the Mid-Columbine Trail and past the Spring Creek Trail until the trail becomes the Upper-Columbine Trail. The transition from Mid to Upper Columbine is marked by large cast iron signs indicating the direction of the Columbine Trail and another pointing to Gold Camp Road. Walk the short distance to Gold Camp Road and turn right. Walk down Gold Camp Road and through Tunnel #1. Immediately on the other side of the tunnel, look for the Spring Creek Trail on the right and follow it to the Mid Columbine Trail; turn left to return to the parking lot.
These are just a few suggestions — you will no doubt find your own favorites and come up with even more. I'll re-visit this topic from time to time with more suggestions.
Due to trail construction in the area, your older trail map (especially the Trails Illustrated map for this area, which hasn't been updated for a long time) will probably have outdated trail alignments. I suggest getting Pocket Pals Trail Maps which are locally produced and have been updated recently. They're the most accurate maps for this area.
Bob Falcone, a retired firefighter, is a photographer, hiker, and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for 27 years and is also a part time desert rat. He is chair of the El Paso County Parks Advisory Board, a member of the Colorado Springs TOPS Working Committee, and is a former president of the Friends of Cheyenne Cañon. 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.