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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Waldo Canyon near Manitou Springs, Colorado

Just west of  Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs and right off of US 24 is a nice hiking trail in Waldo Canyon. I left my son to play with his cousins at my sister's house in Colorado Springs and drove to Waldo Canyon for a nice easy/moderate hike one October Sunday afternoon (a couple of years back) and really enjoyed my hike.

Leaving Colorado Springs on US 24 I passed Manitou Springs, which is a neat town to visit also.  The trail head was about 2 miles west of Manitou Springs right off of US 24.  I am told that on nice days the parking lot can be full.  When I parked there was only one vehicle other than mine.
Waldo Canyon as seen from the loop/trail head intersection
From the parking lot I followed the trail east as it ascended up some landscaped steps and some switchbacks.  With the trail head and the first portion of the trail near the highway it was a little noisy, but the scenery was great.

At about 1.5 I had to make a choice of following the trail east or west, either way would loop around the canyon and bring me back to this intersection.  From this part of the trail I could see Manitou Springs.  After some consideration  I headed west (clockwise).
Trail heading west a distance from the intersection
The trail was well marked and easy to follow.  The ascent was gradual.  Not long after heading west the trail took me through a lot of trees.  I enjoyed the shade.  The trail slowly turns north and then back east where the trail heads east for a good distance.

I stopped and enjoyed the silence (once down in the canyon the noise of the highway is blocked) and a snack.  There are a lot of good boulders to rest on.

From the higher portions of the trail I could see Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak seen from north side of Waldo Canyon
The trail crossed a small stream several time, but crossing was easy.  There were numerous birds along the way and evidence of deer in the area.  The views of Pikes Peak and Colorado Springs were great.  The leaves were changing and the splashes of yellow & red were really beautiful.

The trail is less than 7 miles (6.8 according to this site).  Elevation gain is around 2000 feet.  I am not a expert hiker, but I would consider the trail easy to moderate.  I did enjoy having my trekking poles with me.

This short trail is a nice get away with some great views.  I think it is well worth the drive up US 24.  If you decide to take the trail in the morning leave early and drive past the trail head to Woodland Park and enjoy breakfast at The Hungry Bear.  You will have a great hike after an awesome breakfast.

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