Waterfalls, lakes, creeks, huts: where to beat the heat in and around Colorado Springs
As the summer heat sweeps over the city, refreshing waters await around Colorado Springs and through the foothills.
Some destinations for your consideration:
North Cheyenne Canyon Park
You can choose to stay low near the Starsmore Nature Center and enjoy the creek parallel to the Lower Columbine Trail. Or you can go higher to Helen Hunt Falls, easily accessible by car.
Or hike higher to the upper parking lot, where you can join the Seven Bridges Trail that loops around the creek. Further afield is St. Mary’s Falls. Visitors win the cool waterfall stream; at least you’ll have some shade for the roughly 6 mile round trip adventure.
South Suburban Reservoir Near the base of the North Cheyenne Cañon is Stratton Open Space. From the Ridgeway Avenue parking lot and trailhead, one can hike or bike to this body of water that mirrors the rugged majesty of Cheyenne Mountain. It is popular among splash dogs.
Locals often leave it to tourists, who pay a fee to see it. The Broadmoor calls it “Colorado’s Greatest Scenery Mile,” and the claim has merits — seven, to be exact. Silver waterfalls tumble down the canyon walls one after another along a staircase.
Catamount Falls This is a small but mighty waterfall that tumbles over rocks off Catamount Trail in Green Mountain Falls. It’s a rejuvenating early break along the trail, which continues to a splendid meadow called Garden of Eden.
South Catamount Reservoir
The Catamount Trail leads to the reservoir, which is most often accessed via the Pikes Peak Highway. The mountain dominates the water, surrounded by woods where other paths crisscross. Many stay put with a fishing rod in hand. You’ll be hard pressed to find a picnic spot with a better view.
East of Woodland Park, off Rampart Range Road, it’s a popular spot for boaters and anglers. If not by car, the Rainbow Gulch Trail is a great way to get to the reservoir. It’s an idyllic retreat through a stream-fed valley, before the trail circles the banks.
It’s not the place Dr. William Bell envisioned in the 1870s – a world-class destination of hotels, casinos and stables. But maybe Lake Manitou is better as it is, largely left alone. The Serene Corner is nestled among the pines north of Woodland Park. Views of Pikes Peak and the rocky face of Devil’s Head along the loop trail.
Colorado Springs Lakes
In town, you don’t have to go far to enjoy the water. Near downtown, there’s Prospect Lake, where swimming is allowed on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays, and where stand-up paddleboarding seems to be the most popular activity on many days. To the south is Quail Lake, another option for non-motorized boating.
The description found in our Happy Trails series, highlighting the area’s outdoors: “a wild and surprising oasis just off Interstate 25.” Melvin Sinton’s former farm is now a hidden town preserve off the Pikes Peak Greenway. Along the short loop trail, people can rest in the shade with a book.
The dream of the founder of Colorado Springs, General William Jackson Palmer, prevails: the hamlet to the north is a refreshing getaway for city dwellers.
You can hang on the edge of the lake in the heart of the city or venture a little further into the picturesque reservoirs that shimmer along a steep path.
Manitou Creek Trail
At Manitou Springs, mineral waters are the traditional way to cool off; they spring from the wells around the city. The Creek Path also does the trick. From Memorial Park, the path heads east, following Fountain Creek under the trees to the Schryver Park duck pond and continuing on the boardwalk to the beautiful waterways of Fields Park.
Fountain Creek Regional Trail
On the last visit, we took the trail on the northwest side of Fountain Creek Regional Park to the trailhead at the end of Duckwood Road. The creekside trail winds under tall cottonwood trees and past scenic ponds en route to Fountain Creek Nature Center.