A few weekends ago, when my sister visited, her only request was to get up into the mountains and hike. We wanted to pick a trail that wasn’t too far from home, and that neither my husband and I had hiked before – so we ended up settling on this one: Columbine Trail in North Cheyenne Cañon.
The trail connects the Starsmore Discovery Center with Gold Camp Road near Helen Hunt Falls. It follows a beautiful little creek and Cheyenne Road for the first part, and then there’s a significant gain in elevation and suddenly both creek and road are long gone in sight and sound.
Thankfully there’s not too much traffic along the road, because you’re so close it can mess with the “solitude factor” we really look for in hiking – though you can’t always see it, you can certainly hear cars pass. The creek helps with that though, nothing as relaxing as the sound of water tumbling over rocks. There are various pull-offs along Cheyenne Road that connect with the trail, where we encountered families playing in the shallow water.
I will mention one thing: we also encountered a great deal of wildlife along this trail. And by wildlife, I mean snakes. Mostly the small, striped, garden variety that would sooner flee than strike and a few equally small bright green ones – but snakes nonetheless. I think we counted seven total, and that’s more than I’ve seen in my four years of Colorado up to that point. Not sure what it was about this particular trail (perhaps creek proximity?) but I thought it was worth noting.
The trails were well maintained but gravelly, I’d definitely recommend shoes with good traction as hiking down gravel is an adventure in itself. The trail did provide tremendous views up North Cheyenne Cañon and down to Colorado Springs, exactly what sister was looking for in her trail experience. When we reached the top of the ridge, the trail divided in a T – I assume Columbine trail continues to the left up to Helen Hunt Falls, but we went right along Spring Creek Trail (according to the sign, though I haven’t had any luck finding that trail on a map) which ended up connecting to Gold Camp Road right near the first tunnel. This is where we turned around – the whole hike took about four hours round trip.
On our trek down, I stopped to photograph these sweet pink blooms and found they belonged to a pea plant! I have a hard time believing those are commonly found wild in Colorado, it must have made its way across the creek from the Starsmore Discovery Center perhaps? And no, I didn’t pick any peas – although there were a couple that looked just about ready!
Snakes and sweet peas – this trail was full of surprises.