We could have hiked for miles every single day of our stay in Colorado Springs and never even scratched the surface of the trails available in the area. To say we were overwhelmed with possibilities is an understatement. As we scoured the AllTrails app, we were repeatedly drawn to the Red Rock Canyon Open Space less than 5 minutes from our campground. We knew this was where we needed to start.
The trail system in Red Rock Canyon Open Space is vast and, unfortunately, the trails are not very well marked. Thankfully, we had cell service the entire hike and continually referenced the map in the AllTrails app to ensure we were, in fact, on the right trail. Only once or twice did we find ourselves off our planned course, only to meet up with the intended trail a short time later.
When we set out for our hike, we opted to let Daisy rest, as we knew it was going to be warm and the trails were moderate intensity with more elevation gain than we typically do with her. Also, we were all acclimating to a higher elevation and sometimes the poor dog just needs a day off.
We arrived at the parking area, found a map, and synced up our location with the map and the AllTrails app to get our bearings, then we set off. For the first half mile or so, the trail was busy. There were camps for kids doing all sorts of activities: hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing. There were people milling about at every turn, and we were doubting our choice.
However, we pressed on hoping that once we got onto some of the secondary trails the crowds would lessen. Thankfully, we were right.
Many of the trails are multi-use, so we did encounter a few mountain bikers and noted ruts on many portions of the trail. The bikers we encountered were all very courteous (including the kids from the camp), and it did not impact our hike.
As we typically try to do in a larger trail system like the one here, we cobbled together multiple legs of various trails to create a loop. The loop we took allowed us to see the absolute best of the open space: we started along one side of the rock formations, wound our way up to the top, then back down, and ended up on the Contemplative Trail that goes along the opposite side of the formations. It was glorious.
Over the past few months, we have been consciously eating better and pushing ourselves when we are out hiking and exercising, and it definitely shows in our hikes. Sure, we were hot and winded by the time we reached the highest elevation, but we were very much still acclimating and also it was hot. While we may have been winded, we did not slow down. It is an incredible feeling to know that just a few months ago a hike like this would have tuckered us out, but now, we crushed it.
Having spectacular views is a nice payoff when you are trudging up a hill, but the views are even more rewarding when you crest the hill with confidence and strength.
The centerpiece of the open space, the incredible rock formations, were a sight to behold. Bird was beside herself with the rocks darting up all around us and the views stretching for miles below us. More and more, these days, she is asking to touch the rocks or pointing out different things she sees (like the “window” [hole] she spotted in the formation above us at one point where you could see blue skies on the other side). She also has quite the eye for seeing birds, squirrels, and, of course, dogs and people.
Our loop allowed us to experience the highlights of the open space, but when we finished our hike, I was left wanting to go back and explore even more. What would it look like at sunrise? Or sunset? Where did the trail we were supposed to take turn off the trail we ended up on? What would the formations look like going the other way? Unfortunately, we did not make it back to do more hiking here, but you can guarantee it is at the top of our list when we return to the area.