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Nature Trails in Colorado Springs


Colorado Springs is surrounded by beautiful mountains, forests, rock formations, and year-round sunshine. There are a multitude of nature trails for people to choose from, whether for biking, running, hiking, or horse riding. However, with so many different trail options, people have a challenging time deciding on the best trails. Luckily, there are a lot of useful sources to help someone pick a good trail to de-stress and get outside.

There are many trails in Colorado Springs famous for their beauty and unique nature, such as Garden of the Gods, the Incline, and Red Rocks Open Space. For someone who has a lot of experience hiking, the Incline and Red Rocks offer a good challenge, and Garden of the Gods is a must-see spot for anyone visiting.

However, according to former Colorado College outdoor education manager Ryan Hammes, “people like to go to where other people have been, um, due to social media”, and it’s important to “really get out and find out what you’re into… Find out what (trails) really… ring true for you.” While trails such as Garden of the Gods and the incline are amazing spots to visit, Colorado Springs has so much more to offer, and getting out and exploring nature can have many more benefits than just recreational use.

According to Colorado Springs resident and seasoned hiker and trail runner Kristen Johnson, the trails in town are “easy to access… it’s so easy to get to lots of different places in the Springs.” Hammes adds that “people should try… going to trails that are a little more removed… like… St. Mary’s Falls… Seven Bridges… above Stratton Open Space, in Cheyenne Canyon… Jones Park… you can really get away from the crowds.”

While Colorado Springs has not been on many people’s radars for hiking, it is slowly growing in popularity. Johnson shared that she experienced “an increase in hiking during COVID, because that’s what people could do… be in nature and not have to worry as much about social distancing”.

Hammes describes Colorado Springs as a “hidden gem… you can literally hike from… Red Rock Canyon… right into Section 16, Bear Creek Park, Cheyenne Canyon, up into Pike National Forest… you can go all the way around Pike’s Peak, you know, the ring the peak trail… you could literally backpack if you wanted to, provided you could find water sources”. The trail systems in Colorado Springs are all connected in some way, and there are so many places to explore.

Getting outside is so much more than exercise and recreation. Hammes shared that “studies have shown that… being outside… and maybe, you know, turn(ing) your phone off for a hot minute… can really allow you to connect to the natural world, and I think people have lost that connection. And… recognizing that, um, everything is interconnected is really important, and it’s not something that you’re gonna find on TikTok or YouTube”. Being in nature is imperative to people’s health, and we need to get out and explore to really connect ourselves with the outside world every once in a while.

Health benefits of getting outside, Hammes says, include “your physical wellness… you’re being physically active. Then… your environmental wellness… your emotional wellness… your spiritual wellness… your social wellness, so you can go out and bond with your friends in a different way… you can touch on so many different aspects of wellness.” Additionally, Kristen Johnson believes that “vitamin D is one of the most important (vitamins for) our bodies, and even though we live in a state that’s very sunny, people don’t get enough vitamin D, and they don’t realize that.”

However, many people don’t realize that there are trail sustainability rules they must follow in order to keep the trail ecosystems healthy and thriving. Hammes shared that “people… don’t know how… to travel on these (trails). So it’s resulted in a lot of… people going offtrail and, um, it’s creating erosion, it’s creating more work for conservation groups to… maintain those trails.” Before goin out and exploring the wonderful trail systems Colorado Springs has, it’s important to be educated on how to sustainably recreate outdoors so future generations can continue to enjoy the trails without worrying about erosion and other issues.

Additionally, many people don’t realize how difficult some of these hikes can be. Hammes shared that the Incline is his least favorite trail, because he has “had to respond to emergency 911 calls on that particular trail… I’ve seen too many folks go up there that, um, probably were not in shape”. While the Springs has many exciting trail opportunities, it is important to do research before choosing a trail.

Colorado Springs has some of the best trails in the state, and the majority of them aren’t even used. It’s important to research before recreating outdoors, but being outside has been shown to have so many health benefits and is one of the most enjoyable pastimes.

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About the Contributor
Phoebe Johnson
Phoebe Johnson, Staff writer
“The earth has music for those who will listen”  -William Shakespeare    Phoebe Johnson is sixteen years old and a junior at Palmer High School. She was born on February 22nd, 2007, in Stillwater, Minnesota. She moved to Colorado when she was five. Phoebe runs cross country and track. Her other hobbies include reading, hiking, thrifting, and art. She has loved writing since she was little and plans to study journalism and creative writing after high school. 

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