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Pikes Peak

posted Jul 13, 2018, 1:38 PM by Justin P   [ updated Aug 28, 2018, 3:57 PM ]

We slept in a bit after an early morning yesterday and had breakfast at the hotel.  Then we headed to North Cheyenne Cañon Park for some waterfalls in Colorado Springs.  We parked at the Helen Hunt Falls Visitor Center and could see the waterfall from the parking area.  Even with last night's storms, the water level was pretty low, but it was still a nice waterfall.

From here, we hiked up the Silver Cascades Trail.  The trail passed over the top of Helen Hunt Falls and there were more cascades upstream on North Cheyenne Creek.

A spur trail led to an overlook with nice views.  The rock face we could see was actually Silver Cascade Falls - and not much water.

We climbed up to the top of Silver Cascade Falls and had a nice view of the canyon even if there wasn't much waterfall to see.

A little further down the trail at one spot, the water spout was visible even in pitiful water flow.

We next tried to park for St. Mary's Falls Trail, but the parking area was completely full.  It probably wouldn't have been worth it, since St. Mary's Falls is upstream of Silver Cascade Falls.  So we decided to head to Pikes Peak for another 14er.  This one would be a lot easier as we could drive to the summit.  After paying admission, we first stopped at Crystal Reservoir for some nice views of the lake in the shadow of Pikes Peak.

Next, we made a quick photo stop at Brown Bush.  Driving as far as Devils Playground (mile 16), we had to park.  Due to construction at the summit that limited parking, they were only allowing a few cars to drive to the summit.  The rest had to take a shuttle.  It was a bit of a wait, but we saw a bighorn sheep passing by as we stood in line.

Finally, our shuttle arrived and took us to the summit.  We got some of their famous donuts that flatten at lower elevations due to the pressure differential.  Then we hiked around a bit at the summit to get some pictures of the great views from the top of America's Mountain.

When we were done up here, we took the shuttle back down and spent a little time climbing, scrambling and playing around at the Devils Playground.

It was a pretty cool area and we were still at rather high elevation.

Looking down, we could see Pikes Peak Highway snaking up the mountain.

After climbing a bit, we started heading back down the mountain and made a couple more photo stops at some of the scenic overlooks.  Near the exit, we stopped at Camera Point with a nice view of Ute Pass and Colorado Springs.

Then we left the mountain.  It was still fairly early, so we made a stop at Red Rock Canyon Open Space.  We started off hiking along the Sand Canyon Trail, passing beautiful red rock cliffs.

The hogbacks - narrow ridges of bright red sandstone - were really beautiful.

Not as big and impressive as nearby Garden of the Gods but a lot less crowded.  Shortly, we got on Contemplative Trail where there was an occasional view of Pikes Peak.

This trail ran right alongside the hogbacks.

Unfortunately, rock scrambling is prohibited.

This was my favorite part of the hike as the rock formations were really beautiful.

At the end of the trail, we turned on Quarry Pass and then Mesa Trail to make a loop back to the parking lot.  Along the way, we also had a great view of Garden of the Gods.  That was our destination for tomorrow.

It was starting to get late and we were getting hungry so we stopped for dinner at Colorado Mountain Brewing for our last dinner in Colorado.  Then we retired back to our hotel for the evening.