Greenland Open Space is a 3,000-acre stretch of meadows and foothills between Castle Rock and Colorado Springs, on the west side of I-25. The open space covers 3,000 acres on the edge of ponderosa pine forests, and is home to rabbits, prairie dogs, foxes, coyotes, elk, and porcupines.
What Makes It Great
There are eleven miles of trail that passes through grasslands and Gambel oak stands, and skirts ponds. In the late 1800s, Greenland was a booming commerce center, with lumber, grain, potatoes, mile and building stones shipped out. It had three stores, a school, a hotel, a saloon and blacksmith shop. The Greenland Ranch is a 21,000-acre operating cattle ranch. The open space connects the remnants of the abandoned town with the town of Palmer Lake to the south.
The main trail lives up to its “open space” designation. It’s a 10-mile gravel path (round-trip) that rolls through native grasslands between the cities of Colorado Springs and Castle Rock. Popular among cyclists, hikers and horseback riders as well as runners, the trail connects with the New Santa Fe Trail in Palmer Lake and it’s part of the Colorado Front Range Trail. This is a fairly level path, but it’s easy to get distracted by views of Pikes Peak and nearby buttes. The north end of the trail is about 500 feet lower than the south, so if you start at the north and run in a loop or out-and-back, you’ll end with downhill.
Another route is Kipp’s Loop, which connects the north and south points of the open space and offers more time in the trees and more varied terrain. The open space has been the site of a popular trail running event in the summer.
The Greenland Trail Races feature three distances – an eight-mile run, a 25K run and a 50K ultramarathon. This is known as “the fastest 50K in Colorado,” with winners in the men’s field closing in at three hours. (Alex Nichols had the winning 2014 men’s 50K time with 3:13:38; Elizabeth Gold won the women’s 50K with a time of 4:16:35.)
Who is Going to Love It
The trails are designed for hikers and runners, mountain bikers and horseback riders. There are benches, hitch rails and picnic tables throughout the open space. The trail is fairly level.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Colorado Springs, take I-25 north to exit 167. Go west for 0.2 miles and south for 0.5 miles to the Greenland Trailhead. It can also be reached on the south side from the New Santa Fe Trail trailhead in Palmer Lake.
The main trail is in the open, so it can be hot in the summer, and thunderstorms may move in quickly.
For more information, call the Douglas County Open Space and Natural Resources at (303) 660-7495.