Sunday, May 23, 2010

Hiking Colorado - North Cheyenne Canyon

Today, my mom and i decided to enjoy the beautiful summer weather and go for an "easy" hike. After debating the many amazing trails in the Colorado Springs area, my mom suggested that we check out Helen Hunt Falls in North Cheyenne Canyon Park.

Up for an adventure, my mom, uncle, and I jumped in the car and thought we check it out. We were in for a surprise. As we winded through the long mountain road in North Cheyenne Canyon, we drove past a beautiful river surrounded by several trail heads and picnic grounds. Only a few minutes short drive from Old Colorado City and downtown Colorado Springs, I was surprised how close this mountain refuge was... and more surprised that I never hiked the trail before.

The trail started at the base of a water fall. The late afternoon sun quickly racing behind the mountain, the beautiful waterfall and greenery was a delicious respite from the early afternoon's heat. The hike, although a short 1/2 mile, follows the river straight up the mountain to beautiful views. Although it is a good 15-20 minute w
orkout for the out of towner, it was worth it. (There are a lot of benches to stop and catch your breath along the way! My mom, the local, did the hike with her arm in a sling with no problem.)

Doing some quick detective work, I came upon this description of North Cheyenne Cañon Park by the city of Colorado Springs:

North Cheyenne Cañon Park, known for its towering evergreens and wildflowers, stunning rock formations, hiking paths and waterfalls, was a popular camping ground for American Indians, particularly the Ute tribes.
Purchased in 1885, General Palmer and Fred Chamberlain enhanced the park with more donations of land. The High Drive and Crystal Park Trail traverse the steep sides of the mountains. The Bruin Inn provided visitors a spot to buy refreshments near Helen Hunt Falls. Eventually, the Columbine Trail was built from the mouth of the Cañon three miles up to Helen Hunt Falls. Between 1914 and the 20s, massive stone bridges, walls and arches were constructed throughout the valley. North Cheyenne Cañon Park is now 1,626 acres, including the Stratton Open Space. Helen Hunt Falls and Starsmore Discovery Center are popular visitor centers in the park which feature nature exhibits, a climbing wall and educational programs.

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