It’s no secret that Colorado Springs is consistently rated as one of the healthiest cities in America. And since it has gorgeous scenery and tons of trails to hike, getting your exercise here feels more like a treat than an obligation.
After hitting the trails and getting your heart rate up, gettin’ your grub on is a well-deserved reward. Colorado Springs has a massive variety of unique restaurants and amazing food, so it’s easy to find a place to do just that.
Here’s a list of some of the best trails to hike and restaurants that are near them.
1. Red Rock Canyon Open Space and Colorado City Creamery
If you want to go where the locals are, and beat the traffic and congestion of Garden of the Gods, check out Red Rock Canyon Open Space, second cousin to Garden of the Gods. You won’t get bored doing the same loop here because there are so many different trails and views to choose from. Most trails will lead you on an upward hike, but what goes up, must come down. Enjoy a nice and easy downward hike back to the parking lot. Red Rock Canyon Open Space (pictured in this article’s feature photo) has amazing views of the city as well as Garden of the Gods. This is a great trail for both young children and dogs. You can take your leashed dogs on the trail or use one of the two off-leash dog runs available.
Afterward, take a stroll through historic Old Colorado City just a mile away. Since Red Rock Canyon Open Space is great for young kids, treat them to ice cream at Colorado City Creamery for a job well done.
2. Manitou Springs Incline and Manitou Brewing Company
At .8 miles straight up a mountain with an average increase in grade of 40 percent, the Manitou Incline is not a trail for the faint of heart. Up until 2013, it was even illegal to climb. The hike is not very technical since it’s just a perfect straight line up the trail, but it will test your endurance. Bailout Point is a little bit past the halfway point. If you don’t think you can make it to the top, you can bail here and take the Barr Trail back down to the Cog Railway parking lot. But you’re not going to quit, are you?! Once you get to the top, take a sweaty selfie, drink some more water, catch your breath and then start your 2.2 mile decent down the Barr Trail, back to the parking lot.
The Incline is not a trail for dogs or young children. To avoid equally steep Incline parking fees, use the free shuttle that will pick you up at the El Paso Blvd and Old Mans Trail. The Incline usually closes every fall for repairs and reopens in December.
You’ve definitely earned your dinner after doing the Incline. There’s no better place to refuel than at Manitou Brewing Company just down the road from the Incline. Manitou Brewing has some of the biggest and best burgers in The Springs and they always pair well with a side of savory truffle fries. Their list of in-house brews is impressive, as is the local guest beers they keep on tap.
Right and Up tip: Seriously. Get the truffle fries. You know your mouth is watering right now.
3. Seven Bridges Trail and Garden of the Gods Cafe
Photo by Mark Byzewski
Cheyenne Canyon has so many awesome trails to try, but Seven Bridges is one of the best. You’ll only hike about 1.5 miles into the trail, but you’ll feel like you’re deep in the Canyon since you’ll be surrounded by lush forest and running streams. Mark your progress along the trail as you cross each of the seven bridges. Parking at the trailhead is easy, then it’s a flat .7 mile walk to the start of the trail at Marker 622. Seven Bridges is a great trail for young children and dogs and it’s about 3 miles round trip.
After you’re done hiking Seven Bridges, enjoy the scenic drive out of Cheyenne Canyon where you will pass through old railroad tunnels, waterfalls and beautiful views of The Springs.
Gold Camp Road will spit you out right by Garden of the Gods Café, a perfect place for treating yourself after a good hike. Bring your appetite and get ready to get your brunch on. You can’t go wrong with either the Mountain Man Hash or the Banana Foster French Toast. They make the best coffee, but if a boozy concoction is what you’re after, try the Market Bloody Mary with bacon—it’s the “real dill.”
Right and Up tip: Put your name on the list early because you won’t be the only one waiting for a table on a weekend morning.
4. Lovell Gulch and Bierwerks Brewery
So this one isn’t technically in Colorado Springs, but just take a short drive north and you’ll find yourself out of the city and at a higher altitude. Located in the Pike National Forest, the Lovell Gulch is a fun nature walk with streams to hop over, wild animals to spot, and wildflowers for days. You’ll walk through forests, meadows, and even pass some crazy rock formations. When you get to the top of the ridge you’ll see great views of Pikes Peak. The Lovell Gulch Trail isn’t technically difficult, but at almost 6 miles and with a lot of ups and downs, you’ll earn your next meal.
On the way back to The Springs, take a break at Bierwerks Brewery with other fellow hikers, cyclists and all-around beer enthusiasts. This a great spot to relax with your friends, recount your journey to the top of Lovell Gulch, and boast about the good old days when you PCS’ed to Germany. Reload your energy with German inspired charcuterie boards, pretzels and sausages platters. This is a casual spot, so bring your dogs, kids, and come ready to mingle.
5. New Santa Fe Trail and Red Leg Brewing Company
If you’re not exactly into hiking or trail running, fear not, the New Santa Fe Trail is awesome for cyclists too. Of course you can still run or walk the trail, but bringing your bike along will allow you to log some serious miles and see some awesome scenery and history along the way. The trail starts at Palmer Lake and flows south, straight through the Air Force Academy grounds. The southern part of the trail eventually meets up with the Pikes Peak Greenway for added miles, if you wish.
It’s 16 miles of mostly unpaved trail, but it does connect with several other paved and unpaved trails as well. The elevation on the trail will go up and down, but it’s not too extreme. This is another dog and kid-friendly place with many options letting you decide how far you want to go on the trail.
If you park at the Woodmen Road exit you’ll be perfectly poised to drive a few miles south, where you will find yourself in a triangle of great breweries. However, Red Leg Brewing Company is the best spot to chill after logging all those miles on your bike. Veteran-owned and field artillery themed, Red Leg helps to easily connect civilians, military and veterans through the love of good beer. Children are welcome here, but with only a small outdoor patio, there’s not a lot of room for dogs.
Right and Up tip: Red Leg doesn’t serve their own food, but check their Facebook page or call to find out which delicious food truck will be available when you arrive.
Cover Photo by Joel Tonyan. All other photos by Christine Maxwell unless otherwise noted
About the Author
Christine Maxwell is an Army spouse currently stationed at Fort Carson, CO, with her husband and son. She is a personal finance junkie and the founder of Her Money Moves, a blog about personal finances, careers and military culture for military spouses and their families.