If you enter the area from the Rainbow Gulch trailhead, there’s no entrance fee. If you drive to the reservoir, you’ll be charged a $6 day use fee.
One of the best single-track trails in the region, the Rampart Reservoir Trail offers thrills and challenges for riders of all abilities, along with sweeping views of Pikes Peak in the distance. This trail, which follows the many fingers of the shoreline of Rampart Reservoir, offers long, flat stretches, but its numerous rock formations also create interesting obstacles. Stands of aspen are decorated by carpets of wildflowers, including Colorado’s photogenic blue columbine and wild iris. Portions of this trail will also offer a glimpse into the destruction caused by the Waldo Canyon Fire in the summer of 2012.
What Makes It Great
This trail has everything going for it – it’s easy to reach from the town of Woodland Park, it has easily accessible parking with no trail fees. It is long enough (14.2 miles) to appeal to experienced riders, but not too hard for beginners.
Start at the Rainbow Gulch Trailhead on Rampart Range Road. Rainbow Gulch is a popular portal to the reservoir for anglers, hikers, runners and riders. On most summer and fall days, you’ll find the Rainbow Gulch parking lot full, but that doesn’t mean the trail will be crowded with bikes. You’ll meet groups of anglers and hikers – many with dogs – but the trail is wide enough for walkers and riders to easily share. This is the easiest part of this ride – it’s all downhill on the way to the water.
Once you reach the water, about 1.5 miles in, begin riding around the reservoir clockwise. Depending on the season and reservoir water levels, you might reach places where the trail is covered with water, or requires more expert riding skills (or walking). After nine miles, you’ll reach the dam; cross it and find the trail again after the guardhouse and gate. Here, you’ll find more development in this popular recreation area – there are picnic sites, more people using the trail to get to the shore for fishing, and eventually, campgrounds. And this is where you will see the most evidence of the Waldo fire.
The total distance around is 14.2 miles, with an elevation gain of 1,034 feet and loss of 1,027.
Who is Going to Love It
This trail is great for riders of all levels; beginners might find a few spots where they have to dismount and walk their bikes.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
To get to Rainbow Gulch Trail from I-25 in Colorado Springs, take U.S. Highway 24 west to Woodland Park. Turn right on Baldwin Street and drive out of town (road becomes Rampart Range Road). When you reach a Y, turn right; when the pavement ends, turn right again and watch for trailhead parking on your left.
The recreation area is open year round. The reservoir is open from mid-May through mid-October, depending on weather.
Camping is available in the summer at Thunder Ridge and Meadow Ridge campgrounds.