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History hike at Lake Pueblo State Park: Conduit Trail

The hike starts at this gazebo
The hike starts at this gazebo
Deb Stanley

Lake Pueblo State Park may be best known for its boating. However, the park features miles of hiking and biking trails.

The old conduit at Lake Pueblo State Park
Deb Stanley

The Conduit Trail spotlights some of the history of the area. 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. Hikers on this trail will see the some of the remains of that conduit from an overlook.

The hike starts at the South Shore parking lot (directions below). A small gazebo with a sign that says “Welcome to the Arkansas Point Trail System.” 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, 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. After reading the history, take a seat on the bench and enjoy the view of the lake nearby and Pikes Peak in the distance. This is a good spot to look at the map and decide which way you’d like to go. You can return the way you came, but that shale rock can be a bit miserable when you’re going downhill. I recommend a loop hike.

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. That trail will take you back to the parking lot where you started.

Details: The hike to the Conduit overlook and around the loop is about one mile with 75 feet of elevation gain.

Admission: $7 per car in 2014. Visit the Lake Pueblo, Colorado State Park's website. I highly recommend printing a hiking trails map before you go.

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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.