Lake Pueblo State Park may be known for its 60 miles of shoreline, but the park also features miles of hiking and biking trails.
A sign at the South Shore trailhead (directions below) mentioned two loops – Arkansas Point and Conduit. I decided to give those a try. The Conduit Trail spotlights some of the history of the area. The Arkansas Point Trail takes visitors to some of the higher points in the park.
Walk to the left of the display and follow the trail down a small hill. You are now on the South Shore Trail. It is a wide, dirt road. As you start your walk, you’ll have a view of Lake Pueblo.
The South Shore Trail heads toward the water, then veers left and climbs a small rise between the hills. As you come around the bend, stay on the wide road as it turns left up a canyon. The smaller trail that branches off to the right is the South Shore Trail, but we want to go up this first canyon.
About 0.4 miles from the trailhead, you’ll come to a trail split for the Conduit, Water Tank and Hooters Canyon Trails. Take a look around here. This is the start of canyon country – there are several canyons to the south. But for now, look up the Conduit Trail to the rock formations. We’re going to turn on the Conduit Trail and go around the rock formations with an option to go on top of those formations.
The Conduit Trail is a change from what you’ve been hiking. After the flat, dirt road, the Conduit Trail is only single-person wide and it is covered in rocks – lots and lots of shale rocks that are a bit slippery to hike over.
You’ll hike up a hill to a saddle and a view point. There’s a bench here and a sign explaining the C.F. & I Arkansas Valley Conduit remnants across the lake from this overlook. In the early 1930s, a conduit (pipeline) was built to bring water from the Arkansas River to the C.F. & I Plant to be used for smeltering. After reading the history, take a seat on the bench and enjoy the view of the lake nearby and Pikes Peak in the distance.
Continue on the Conduit Trail as it wraps around the rock formation above you. As you hike by next pile of rocks, look closely. My hiking history book, Walking Into Colorado’s Past said the small, orange, tubular markings are fossilized worm tunnels.
There’s a short hill with a view just past the pile of the rocks or stay on the main trail. Just past the hill is a trail to your left with a bench -- ignore that for now, you’ll be coming back here later.
For now, continue to the next trail split and turn right on the Staircase Trail. Like its name says, this trail has some staircases of wooden steps as you climb up to the top of the rocky outcropping. Near the top, you’ll come to another trail split, and see a bench. Walk to the bench. However, you’re not done yet. You can sit at the bench and enjoy the views. Or you can continue on the Arkansas Point Trail to the end. This next section of trail has some ups and downs and ends over that very first three-way trail split we saw between the Conduit/Watertower and Hooters Canyon Trails.
If you’re adventurous and have some skills, these rocks can be very fun to explore. However, be very careful with children and adults, because this crumbly rock can give way and you could fall. I walked as far as I was comfortable and return the way I had come.
Back at the bench and then the three-way trail split, I headed toward the solar panels/weather station and the top of the next hill. Once again I found a bench, this time, with a good view of the Lake Pueblo Dam. This is a good spot to take a break and look at the map. You can return the way you came or you can make a loop up here. I recommend, back on the main trail, taking a few more steps and turning on the Steep Tech Trail. While I did not go this way, it appears it goes downhill, back to the Conduit Trail, past the Staircase Trail, back to that spot we passed earlier that I said ignore for now. At this point, turn off on that trail and head back to the parking lot where you started making for a double loop.
Details: The hike around the double loop is about 2.1 miles with 350 feet of elevation gain.
Admission: The entry fee was $7 in 2014. Colorado State Park's website.
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Directions: From I-25 in Pueblo, take exit 101/Highway 50 and go west. Drive four miles to Pueblo Blvd/CO45 and turn left/south. Drive about 3.7 miles to Thatcher Avenue/CO 96 and turn right/west. From here, it’s about 3.8 miles to the park entrance on your right. Take So. Marina Road past the entrance station and turn left on Arkansas Point Road. You’ll see the parking area up ahead and to the right.