Climbing Colorado's Fourteeners
Pikes Peak is the easternmost fourteener in the United States and needs little introduction. It soars west of the Colorado Springs metropolitan area and is often the first peak seen when approaching the Rocky Mountains from the east. Its colorful history has been told many times.
Pikes is the southern Front Range's monarch and the highest peak in El Paso County. Located in scenic Pike National Forest, Pikes has the largest elevation gain in Colorado. The peak rises a staggering 7,800 vertical feet above downtown Manitou Springs in a horizontal distance of 7.25 miles. No other Colorado peak can match that!
Each year, thousands of people reach Pikes' summit by road, rail, and trail. People run, roll, ride, bike, hike, ski, camp, stamp, stomp, and sell Pikes. The song"America the Beautiful" was written on the summit.
Manitou Springs Trailhead: This trailhead is at 6,700 feet and provides access to the Barr Trail on Pikes' east side. Go west for 0.4 mile on the U.S. 24 Business Loop from City Hall in the center of Manitou Springs. Turn west (left) onto well-marked Ruxton Avenue and follow it for 0.7 mile to the cog railway depot. Continue west for an additional 0.1 mile past the depot, then turn north (right) onto Hydro Street (paved). Go north on Hydro Street for 100 yards to the large parking lot at the well-marked trailhead. Although large, this parking lot fills up early on summer weekends. Arrive earlier. This trailhead is accessible in winter.
Crags Campground Trailhead: This trailhead is at 10,100 feet and provides access to Pikes' northwest side. Take Exit 141 off Interstate 25 and go west on U.S. 24 for 18.4 miles to the junction of Colorado 67 and U.S. 24 in Woodland Park. Continue west on the combined Colorado 67 and U.S. 24 for an additional 6.8 miles to the next junction of Colorado 67 and U.S. 24 in the small community of Divide. Leave U.S. 24, turn south (left) onto Colorado 67 and go 4.3 miles to Teller County 62 (dirt). This poorly marked junction has two small signs, one for the Rocky Mountain Camp and the other for the Crags Campground. Turn east (left) onto Teller County 62 and go 1.6 miles to the Rocky Mountain Camp. Turn south (right) onto the main road and continue for an additional 1.6 miles to the entrance to the Crags Campground. Turn east (left) into the campground and go 0.3 mile to the well-marked trailhead on the campground's east side. Winter road closure is near the Rocky Mountain Camp.
Elk Park Trailhead: This trailhead is on the Pikes Peak Road at 11,900 feet and provides access to the Elk Park Trail and Barr Camp. Take Exit 141 off Interstate 25 and go west on U.S. 24 for 10.0 miles to Cascade. Follow good signs and turn onto the Pikes Peak Road. Follow the toll road for 13.0 miles to Glen Cove. Continue for an additional 1.0 mile to the trailhead at mile 14. The trailhead is on the road's east side, midway through a sweeping north-to-south turn. The winter road closure is at Glen Cove at 11,500 feet.
Devil's Playground Trailhead: This trailhead is on the Pikes Peak Road at 12,930 feet and provides access to Pikes' north side, including Bottomless Pit. Take Exit 141 off Interstate 25 and go west on U.S. 24 for 10.0 miles to Cascade. Follow good signs and turn onto the Pikes Peak Road. Follow the toll road for 16.0 miles past Glen Cove to the Devil's Playground in the 12,930-foot saddle between Point 13,070 and Pikes' long, ambling northwest ridge. There is ample off-road parking here.
There are several constraints to using this trailhead. The road is not open to Devil's Playground in winter. The winter road closure is at Glen Cove at 11,500 feet. The road above Glen Cove opens just before Memorial Day each year. Even when open, the road is closed at night and no overnight parking is allowed along the road. The road opens at 9:30 a.m. each day, which negates early morning starts from this trailhead. The evening closing time varies but is never later than 10 p.m.; it may be much earlier in bad weather. Walking on the road or its shoulder and hitchhiking are illegal. You must walk at least 50 feet from the road; 100 feet is better. Frequent road patrols enforce these restrictions.
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication