With weather expected to be quite nice this Memorial Day weekend, it would seem to be a perfect time to get out and start hiking! There are several great options for you to explore because of the diverse snow-pack levels across the State. If you prefer hiking on dry conditions, then heading south or sticking close to home will be your best bets. If you want to test your skills in the snow, heading North and West will be the directions of choice. If you do opt to travel where there is snow, be aware that the snow-pack is at record levels this year and that avalanche danger is still very real. In fact, just this past weekend, a skier died in an avalanche after ascending Torreys Peak, so be very careful!
Let's move on to the list, shall we?
1. Mount Princeton.
Mount Princeton is situated just south of Buena Vista, a mere 2 hour drive from Colorado Springs. Mount Princeton certainly would be quite a challenging hike, especially given the large amount of snow still left on its slopes; however, if you start early enough, you could be greeted by an incredible sunrise similar to the one I witnessed last weekend there. Even if you don't plan on summiting, the hike up the trail should be nice this weekend. Be sure to see the slideshow for photos! CLICK HERE for my full account of that climb last weekend and for more details on how to climb it.
2. Mount Rosa.
Mount Rosa is quite a bit closer to home, a mere 45 minute drive from Colorado Springs. Mount Rosa is a 11,499 ft. mountain located just west of Colorado Springs on the South part of town. To get to the trailhead for Mount Rosa, take Old Stage/Gold Camp Road approximately 12.5 miles to Forest Service Road 379 (close to the Penrose-Rosemont Reservoir). Turn north on 379 and travel on the 4WD road to Frosty Park for another 1.5 miles. Mount Rosa is a good hike for beginners and still yields excellent views of Colorado Springs and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains to the south. CLICK HERE for full details on how to climb Mount Rosa.
3. Red Rocks Open Space.
Red Rocks Open Space (RROS) is in the city limits of Colorado Springs and offers challenges for both beginners and advanced hikers alike. There are numerous trails strewn about the area and ample opportunity for great views of the city and for rock climbing as well. To get to RROS, take Highway 24 West to High St. and take a left. This road leads you directly into RROS and provides access to two out of the three trailheads. The third trailhead can be accessed off of 31st St., just south of Highway 24 (Cimmaron). For more details on hiking in RROS, CLICK HERE.
4. Sentinel Point.
Sentinel Point is a fairly unknown mountain on the west side of Pikes Peak. One can access the mountain by driving to Divide on Highway 24 and heading South on Highway 67 just past the old tunnel. The "Horsethief Park" trailhead, which provides access to both Sentinel Point and Pancake Rocks can be found roughly halfway between Divide and Cripple Creek. Sentinel Point is a great hike; even if you don’t make it to the top you will get a good taste of wilderness and peace. I highly recommend this hike due to its close proximity and ease of access.
5. Mount Shavano.
Mount Shavano is the southern-most 14er in the Sawatch Range, located just west of Salida, Colorado, a quick 2.5 hour drive from Colorado Springs. Shavano offers excellent challenges for hikers and mountaineers, and is often chosen by many as a season starting warm-up. With snow sure to still be found on Shavano, the route of choice would be to go up the Angel of Shavano, using an ice axe and crampons to aid your climb. If you don’t wish to go all the way up, the trail still offers great scenery to tree-line. For a full account of my climb of Shavano last year, be sure to CLICK HERE.
Check out more trails in your area: Examiner.com's Trail Guide
I hope I have given you a good variety of local hikes to generate some interest for your weekend hiking plans! Be sure to hike safely, and be sure to check out other articles here to help you prepare for the hike.