If you're in the mood for a hike that's not hard, but will still get a sweat going, check out Red Rock Canyon Open Space!
Story behind the open space:
Red Rock Canyon Open Space started as a quarry in the late 1800s, providing building supplies like gypsum and building sand for Old Colorado City.
The quarry was shut down over time but later reopened by the Colorado-Philadelphia Company Mill to refine ore shipped in from Cripple Creek gold mines.
The Bock family bought the property in the 1920s to 30s with plans of turning the property into a resort community with a convention center, high-rise towers, commercial centers and a golf course.
Red Rock Canyon was later purchased by the city of Colorado Springs in 2003 and turned into an open space.
Exploring Red Rock Canyon:
Click here for a Trail Map
The open space covers over 1400 acres of land with 11 marked trails.
The trails are regarded as easy to moderate, ranging from 1.7 to 5.4 miles.
Red Rock Canyon features a series of parallel red rock ridges called hogbacks and eroded canyons, similar to the giant rocks featured in Garden of the Gods.
Climbing to the parks peak elevation, 6,866 feet, will give you a beautiful sweeping view of downtown Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods, and the Front Range foothills.
Activities and amenities in park:
Red Rock Canyon Open Space is open daily to the public from dawn till dusk.
Dirt trails are for pedestrians, bikes, horses and leashed dogs, but there is an off leash dog area on the northwest corner of the park.
Rock climbing is allowed in the open space, but only with a permit.
There is also a small bike only area with several ramps and stunt jumps right by the main parking area.
Portable toilets are located in both main parking lots.
Watch the weather!
You've probably heard the saying, "In Colorado the weather changes every 5 minutes!"
Red Rock Open Space is a large exposed area beside the foot hills of the Front Range.
This makes it very susceptible to lightning during the Spring and Summer months.
Monsoon driven storms in the summer are a huge producer of lightning near the park, so make sure you're extra vigilant from 1 to 4 pm when storms are most likely.
A word of caution, if you're visiting the park on a nice day or during the weekend, parking fills up quick.
There are two parking lots at Red Rock Canyon, but they fill up quickly during peak hiking hours.
Your best bet to secure a spot is to try and hike during the week day when the park is less busy, or get there early in the morning on the weekends.
Treat the trails with respect:
As southern Colorado grows, so does the human impact on our parks.
The freeze/thaw cycle we see in the winter and spring, as well as summertime storms, frequently leaves the trails covered in snow, mud, or ice.
Walking around the mud and ice on the grassy areas is damaging to the ecosystem and could do permanent damage to the park.
The best thing to do is to stick to thawed and dry trails, or walk straight through the mud in the middle of the trail.
IMPORTANT REMINDER: Climbing and scrambling up the rocks and hogbacks off the trails is not allowed.
How to get there:
From I-25 travel 3.5 miles west on Highway 24/Cimarron Street toward Manitou Springs. Turn left (south) on Ridge Road and take the first left into the round-about.
Take a right at the stop sign for the first parking lot or go straight to a second lot in the back. A third parking area is located on 31 Street, just south of Highway 24.