Waldo Canyon Is A Great Place To Spend A Few Hours
A couple of miles past Cave of the Winds on 24 heading West out of the Springs is a small sign that says Trail Head. Just beyond the sign, the parking lot on the right is where you stop for Waldo Canyon. It's the kind of spot you wouldn't mind driving for hours to reach, yet it's right in our back yard!
I've done it many times over the past few years. I did it Saturday with an old buddy from high school (Doherty '83 by the way). We're getting ready to hike Barr Trail to the top of Pikes Peak with a few other friends next month, so this is part of the preps. It's a nice long stroll if you walk and stop to take in the spectacular scenery. It's a great workout if you run parts of it. We have a policy of not running any of the uphill parts!
Depending on which source you check, the entire hike in and out, plus the loop seems to be about 6.85 miles. A mile-and-a-half into it there's a fork in the trail, that's where the loop starts. I always go left into the woods first, but it's six of one, half a dozen of the other. Going right means you've got some pretty steep uphill work to do right away on a loose rocky surface. I prefer to leave that for the last part of the loop. You get a wide range of surfaces underfoot, and a wide range of terrain if you do the whole loop. Some parts are shady and cool, but if it's sunny you will get hot, and you will get sun exposure.
Some say a casual stroll will take about three hours, I usually take between 1:45 and 2:00. REAL runners who work hard the whole way can do it much quicker! Parts of it are a little steep, but overall it doesn't feel like a difficult hike. I go in the morning to avoid the weather issues later in the day. The parking lot often gets packed, but the trail is so long that it doesn't feel overcrowded. Hikers do have to stop to let others pass in the opposite direction quite often, but everyone is pretty reasonable about it.
The best part is the amazing views on several different stretches. You get panoramic looks at Pikes Peak, with no buildings in the foreground. Once you start the loop, you also spend a a good part of the time in a nice wooded area, even crossing over a tiny mountain stream a few times. It's a great place to stop and turn around and take in the Colorado Beauty! You see some boulder fields, even some old cliffs along the way, and there are occasionally small signs posted to tell you about the geological history of what you're seeing. Below are a few of the photos I took from the trail on Saturday.
So take it slow to take it all in, or push a little harder and turn it into a pretty good workout for a couple of hours. Either way Waldo Canyon is another one of those reasons we all love living in Southern Colorado! Take a hike!
We'll talk again soon.
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