Lovell Gulch is a fairly short loop, but the climb is memorable – from 8,500 feet to over 9,200 feet. And the views atop the Rampart Range are picture-perfect year-round.
What Makes It Great
Lovell Gulch Trail is deceiving. It starts in a no-frills, less-than-attractive parking lot next to the Woodland Park road maintenance building. It heads toward the forest, passing close by a neighborhood in this small mountain town and skirting a Forest Service maintenance area. Riders (and hikers and equestrians) who can overlook its start, however, are rewarded with a short but scenic loop ride that appeals to beginners and more experienced riders.
This loop is a little under six miles in the Pike National Forest, but it makes up for its length with its climb. The trail is level for about a mile as it skirts the forest, but as the trees thicken, you’ll cross a stream and begin your climb on a nearly four-mile loop. Keep to the right at the loop and ride upstream along a narrow meadow clogged with aspen trees. At the high point of this hike, you’re rewarded with views of the faraway Sawatch Range (particularly, Mount Princeton and Mount Antero). This range includes eight of the highest peaks in the Rocky Mountains. Other overlooks offer great views of the Front Range’s eastern-most massif, Pikes Peak, and the town of Woodland Park at its base, and other Front Range giants - Mount Evans and Mount Bierstadt.
At the top of this loop, take a left at the gate, and the single-track trail becomes double-track. You can get some speed on this steep downhill through loose gravel. Watch for hikers, horses and dogs on this trail – it’s popular among locals and visitors year-round. It’s best for riding in the summer and fall, but breaks in the weather in the spring might melt some of the ice that forms near the start of the loop. This trail is eroded from horse traffic, especially near the trailhead, but even if it’s muddy, try to avoid leaving the trail and potentially starting new social trails.
Who is Going to Love It
This is a go-to trail for many riders who don’t want to waste a lot of time driving to a trailhead. It offers a few technical challenges, but is mostly known as a reasonable climb followed by a great downhill. And take your camera – from your vantage point on Rampart Range, you’ll get views of a bunch of fourteeners glowing in the distance.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Colorado Springs, take U.S. Highway 24 west to Woodland Park. Turn right on Baldwin Street (at McDonald’s). Drive past the high school and middle school, and watch for parking area on your left on County Road 22 (watch for sign for road maintenance). There are no fees for riding here. This is a very popular horse trail, so watch for horses. Dogs are allowed, and are supposed to be leashed, but there are often off-leash dogs here with their owners.