Hogback Loop, Red Rock Canyon Open Space
Colorado Springs residents should be eternally grateful that Red Rock Canyon Open Space avoided a developmental fate and is what it is today: a hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding paradise.
Regulars appreciate their quick commutes before or after work and their longer weekend trips. The network of trails offers endless possibilities for loops. Connoisseurs opt for an access point that is less visible than the large parking lots in the US 24.
The trailhead along 31st Street is especially popular with cyclists and horse riders, with room for their trailers. But any nature lover will be delighted with the view uphill: the hogback formation carving a grassy meadow, giving the impression of a journey through time. One quickly escapes the adjacent mall and the hustle and bustle of the freeway for a quiet, old-fashioned expanse.
From the Lower Hogback Trail this loop begins by staying straight on the Hogback Valley Trail, wide with spurs for the single track Codell Trail built for bikes. The Hogback Valley Trail climbs and curves steadily through a seam in the steep ridge, offering views of the town, plains, and foothills surrounding Cheyenne Canyon.
A new plateau of panoramas awaits you on the other side of the hogback. Now we look north to the canyons of Waldo, Williams and Queens with Garden of the Gods. The characteristic sandstone outcrops of the open space are outlined on the other side of the old landfill being reclaimed with vegetation.
The downhill trail meets Rim Trail. Keeping straight, the path turns right into a meadow and descends back to the Hogback Valley, meeting at the intersection a short distance from 31st Street.
Logbook : 3.1 miles, 742 feet of elevation gain
Getting There : From Interstate 25, go west on US 24 and turn left (south) on 31st Street. Parking on the right.
FOR YOUR INFORMATION: Park open from 5 am to 9 pm from November 1 to April 30, from 5 am to 10 pm from May 1 to October 1 31. Dogs on a leash, except in the designated off-leash area. Lock the car doors and don’t leave valuables behind. Frozen in winter; have traction.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE