Mount Cutler is a short trail in the heart of one of Colorado Springs’ most beloved and historic parks. North Cheyenne Canyon is a lush, forested refuge in the southwest part of the city. It has been a playground for residents and visitors since the 1880s, when people explored its foot paths and wagon road. In 1885, the city of Colorado Springs purchased some of the land and opened Cheyenne Canyon as a park, and in 1907, city founder William Jackson Palmer donated another portion. Today, there are miles of trails within this wooded park; many connect with the Pike National Forest.
What Makes It Great
There’s nothing quite as satisfying as reaching the top of a mountain, even if it’s a small one. Mount Cutler in Cheyenne Canyon is the perfect mountain challenge for novice hikers and families. It starts at 6,785 feet and heads uphill from the park’s namesake creek, topping out at 7,200 feet – it’s a modest elevation gain of about 400 feet over 2 miles round trip, but it does offer a mountaintop vista.
Start at the Starsmore Discovery Center, and drive up the road to the trailhead. The trail starts just off the main road in the park (which was recently repaired after a summer of severe flooding). It meanders through mixed-growth forest to a couple of satisfying overlooks. At the first opening in the trees, hikers can see Colorado Springs sprawling below. Soon, Seven Falls, a cascade of waterfalls, comes into view. Watch your step here, because the decomposed granite can be slippery. Look for the Will Rogers Shrine (a manmade monument built high on a hillside) shining in the distance.
When you reach the top, watch again for another view of the city below. This trail is for hikers only; bikes aren’t allowed and dogs must be leashed. The park’s road is popular among runners and bicyclists, so watch for them on the curves. And don’t forget a picnic lunch – North Cheyenne Canyon has picnic tables in pockets of shade throughout the park.
Who is Going to Love It
Day-hikers and bird-watchers are drawn to the trails in Cheyenne Canyon. The dense forests are filled in with white fir trees – lush conifers that were planted as part of a Botanical Reserve in the 1880s. The park is also frequented by climbers, and other trails are open to mountain bikers.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From I-25 in Colorado Springs, take exit 140 and follow Cheyenne Boulevard to N. Cheyenne Canyon Road. Enter the park near the Starsmore Discovery Center. Watch for the Mount Cutler trailhead on the south side of the road, about 1.5 miles from the main gate.
This trail is only open to hikers and leashed dogs. The park is open year-round.
The Starsmore Discovery Center is open April through May and September through October, Tuesdays through Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Helen Hunt Falls Visitor Center, further into the park, is open June through August, daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.