New trails discovered in Colorado Springs Mountain Park after road reopens | Way of life
The reopening of North Cheyenne Canyon Road means discovering a new network of trails in one of Colorado Springs’ premier parks.
About 7 miles of trail was built last fall, starting with a reconfigured Daniels Pass. From the road, it climbs about 2 miles to a ridge, where one can take a short hiker-only path to Mount Muscoco – the highest point of the North Cheyenne Cañon – or descend through the trees for more than 3 miles from Sweetwater Canyon trails.
When it opened last year, the network was restricted to those willing and able to hike the extra miles from high or low points in the canyon. Daniels Pass trailhead and other nearby parking options could not be reached by vehicle during road closure to replace bridges.
As mountain bikers have become familiar with the new terrain, “I would expect more hikers and trail runners” with the reopening of the road, said David Deitemeyer, the city’s lead landscape architect. who oversaw the development.
North Cheyenne Canyon Road is reopening this weekend — at least “mostly,” according to the city, while work winds down. Some parking areas will remain closed while they are occupied with equipment and gear, including the popular Mount Cutler Trail.
This will reduce parking options along the road to the Daniels Pass trailhead, which should not be affected, but is limited to 12 parking spaces within the narrow confines of the canyon.
Further up the road, spots have been added at the Bruin Inn picnic area, where a new 0.62 mile trail connects to the Daniels Pass Trail. Above the picnic area is the larger Helen Hunt Falls parking lot. Mountain bikers typically reach Daniels Pass via Gold Camp Road, while Columbine Trail is another option for approaching either end of the canyon. (A map is posted on the city’s website: https://bit.ly/3lXrZkt).
“With Daniels Pass, we intentionally integrated it into the (trail) system so that it could be connected to different trailheads,” Deitemeyer said, alluding to the positive feedback he’s heard from explorers: “ What I’m hearing is excitement for a lot of different looping possibilities.”
And there’s excitement for a part of the park that was largely unknown until now, Calla Balliett said. The remote-feeling Sweetwater Canyon “is a special, special place,” the president of the Friends of Cheyenne Cañon said.
The new trail network is intended to spread out visitors and ease other heavily traveled parts of the park, Deitemeyer explained. But he acknowledged the addition of a destination attracting more visitors — “a kind of catch-22,” he said.
“It requires (looking at) some potential studies of the carrying capacity of this park and the number of appropriate visits in a given time frame,” he said.
The 2018 North Cheyenne Cañon Master Plan lists several traffic control ideas, including a shuttle. Recent discussions “have really been more about eliminating illegal parking,” Balliett said.
Over the past two summers, more cars have parked on either side of the canyon road, essentially creating a one-way street and blocking emergency vehicles. Cars that are not in designated places or stops could be ticketed or towed away, officials warned.