Cheyenne Canyon Park & Stratton Open Space

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Photo by Kellsie Brannen
Photo by Kellsie Brannen

If you’re looking for an area with more variety of trails than you could ever want to conquer in a day, Cheyenne Canyon is the perfect place to go. Located in the Western part of Colorado Springs, the park and open space contain seven distinct trails as well as several mountains, two waterfalls (including the famous Helen Hunt Falls) and the (presumably haunted) scenic Gold Camp Road.

Obviously, the amount of time you will spend hiking depends heavily on the trails you choose to follow. But no matter what you choose there are routes for all types of fitness and commitment levels. The route I chose was actually comprised of two different trails, although both were relatively short. The resulting hike was about six miles in total.

We began on Mt. Muscoco Trail, the trailhead of which is right next to a small parking lot along North Cheyenne Canyon Road. The beginning of the hike was extremely mild, taking only about 20 minutes to get to the halfway point in which the trail splits into a fork—the left side leading to Mt. Cutler Trail, the right to Mt. Muscoco Trail. We decided to hike to Mt. Cutler first, and the trip took significantly less time than we thought.

Photo by Kellsie Brannen
Photo by Kellsie Brannen

We reached the top of the overlook in about 20 minutes (the trail was about a mile). However, don’t be deceived by the brevity of the hike—the views from the top of the outlook are breathtaking.

But we weren’t ready to call it quits after a 40-minute hike, so we backtracked to the fork and ascended Mt. Muscoco trail, which offered a more challenging and lengthy (about two miles) hike. The climb was quite steep on the way up, but nothing too intense. It was, however, well worth the sights of the mountains, valleys and cityscape that the summit offered.

Photo by Kellsie Brannen
Photo by Kellsie Brannen

While my hiking endurance was impaired by a lingering illness (summer colds are the actual worst), there are lots of other trails nearby for those who would like to continue spending time in the lovely park, or just want to try something else. My recommendation is to continue on North Cheyenne Canyon Road, past the trailhead to Mt. Muscoco and Mt. Cutler Trails, and park at the Upper Columbine Trailhead. From there, Helen Hunt Falls and Upper Columbine Trail are readily accessible, both offering stunning views and unique geologic features.

Another recommendation, for the brave of heart and lovers of thrills, is to park at the lot at the  intersection of Cheyenne Canyon Road and High Drive and hike Gold Camp Road going West. After about a mile and a half you will reach the infamous collapsed Third Tunnel which, according to the urban legend, is haunted by the spirits of children who were driving through the tunnel in a school bus when it met its demise. Everyone who grew up in the Springs knew a cousin who had a friend whose brother went into the tunnel and saw spirits, or drove nearby and had their windows covered in tiny handprints or any sort of creepy occurrence you can think of. While any evidence to support the school bus story is dubious at best, the tunnel still looks creepy as heck and the hike offers great views of the mountains, if not juvenile spectres. The entire hike is about four miles round trip if you turn back once you reach the tunnel.

Photo by Kellsie Brannen
Photo by Kellsie Brannen

Overall, if you’re looking for an area with hikes for a variety of tastes and fitness levels, Cheyenne Canyon Park is a lovely nature reserve on the edge of bustling Colorado Springs. Whether you want to make a day of hiking, or take a quick jaunt outdoors while in town, this park has it all.

 

Kellsie is a junior strategic communications major with a background in editing and design. She enjoys producing journalistic content as well as writing in general. She hails from Colorado Springs, Colorado, and loves exploring colorful Colorado.

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