Centennial Trail is an almost eight-mile route that links the town of Woodland Park and the Manitou Lake Recreation Area. The trail is eight feet wide and paved, and parallels Colorado Highway 67 as it winds through the pine and aspen forests.
What Makes It Great
For the first 1.5 miles, Centennial parallels Woodland Park neighborhoods, and eventually passes by the Shining Mountain Golf Course. As it heads north, it’s mostly a downhill ride (something to remember if you have novice riders or children with you – the ride back to Woodland Park is mostly uphill). On any given day, you’ll meet runners, dog-walkers and other cyclists on this seven-mile path from Woodland Park to Manitou Lake, and in the summer, it’s a favorite of cross-country skiers and snowshoers, especially the day after a big storm.
The Centennial Trail ends at Manitou Lake, a small lake stocked with trout and ringed by picnic tables, a group picnic shelter and a short trail that winds through a small wetlands area. Manitou Lake is managed by the Pikes Peak District of the U.S. Forest Service, and is open year-round. Plan on lingering here and perhaps strolling around this little lake. Before this trail was built, Colorado Highway 67 was a popular training route for cyclists, but it’s a narrow, winding highway with little to no shoulders at some points, so it was dangerous. Now, the route is basically the same, but the traffic and road dangers have been removed (with the exception of an occasional deer blocking the trail).
For the Centennial Trail, start in Woodland Park at the trailhead and historic cabin and head north. You’ll soon leave the town and pass by several Pike National Forest campgrounds. This part of the trail is mostly in the open, so during the summer months, it can be hot. It has some rolling hills, and after the wide-open section, it winds gently through pine and spruce forests. You cross the highway two times before you get to the lake. And the way back to Woodland Park is the most scenic part of this out-and-back, with Pikes Peak shimmering in the distance.
Who is Going to Love It
In the late spring and early summer, this trail is perfect for wildflower fans.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Colorado Springs, take U.S. Highway 24 west to Woodland Park. Turn right (north) on Colorado Highway 67, and watch for Pikes Peak Credit Union. The parking lot for the Centennial Trail is right there, with a historic log cabin at the trailhead. For shorter trips along this trail, continue driving on Highway 67 four miles to Red Rocks Campground; there’s a small parking area there. Two miles further, there is free parking at South Meadows Campground. (Both campgrounds are open summer and fall.) If you ride to the Manitou Lake Recreation Area, there’s a $6 day use fee.