Some hikes leave you with a distinct memory of a view, a fragrance, an encounter. Catamount Trail is a steep, three-mile uphill trek with sharp switchbacks but its scenery and the memories it creates make you forget about the effort required.
What Makes It Great
This is one of the steeper trails in the area, with sharp switchbacks. The trail gains 1,430 feet in three miles. This trail was the result of five years of planning, designing and layout, and four years of volunteer construction. In 1997, more than 300 workers with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado came together for a massive effort to build the first segment of this trail. The rest was finished in 2001.
The trail starts alongside Catamount Falls, a tumble of water that can roar in the spring and summer months when snow is melting on Pikes Peak. Dense pines shade the way, as you wind up the hillside behind the town of Green Mountain Falls. The switchbacks eventually give way to a flat, mossy area appropriately called the Garden of Eden. Here, clouds of butterflies float and the small creek makes a perfect environment for wildflowers and birds. At the creek, the trail continues to climb, but less steeply, as it takes you to the South Catamount Reservoir, a part of Pikes Peak’s North Slope Recreation Area. South Catamount is stocked with trout, and bait fishing is allowed there (with a limit of 4 trout – including just two lake trout - per angler).
If Catamount Trail isn’t enough for you (or is too much), Green Mountain Falls has several other trails to explore. The Kirkpatrick Trail is a two-mile trip with a vertical gain of 400 feet. Thomas Trail walks along the hillside above the town, and is 2.5 miles long with a 700-foot elevation gain and it intersects with the Catamount Trail. Two miles of easy trails are in the Wallace Reserve, a 95-acre open space preservation project.
Who is Going to Love It
This trail has it all – a crashing waterfall at its start, a steep, breath-zapping trek up a mountainside, a startling green meadow that often holds clutches of butterflies, and access to the sprawling North Slope Recreation Area, a collection of reservoirs and trails on the flank of Pikes Peak.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Colorado Springs, take U.S. Highway 24 west to the town of Green Mountain Falls. Turn left at the Green Mountain Falls sign, and drive down into the town. In the town center, there’s a pond with a gazebo. Park there and begin your trek on Ute Pass Avenue northwest to the trailhead. Walk to Hondo Avenue, and follow Hondo to the trailhead. You can also use a different approach, walking to Belvidere, and following that road to a trailhead for Catamount.
There is no parking at either trailhead and no parking along these (gravel) roads except for residents.