It was going to be 70 degrees one day last weekend. I thought it would be nice to get out and do something. Taking the dogs is usually a must and since we also have to drive at least 30 minutes to get anywhere, we wanted to maximize our experience.
I swear I looked things up the night before. I came upon The Crags Trail after searching for "dog-friendly hiking in co springs". After weighing the pros and cons of other trails on the list, Crags seemed to be the best choice. We drove 2+ hours to Divide, Colorado and then were greeted by an iced over dirt road with cars parked along the side. Another driver told us there was a jam on the dirt road up ahead, so everyone had to turn around. It was a production, to say the least. No pictures were taken and the whole place seemed to be poorly maintained. You could barely get one car down the 3+ mile dirt road, let alone two to pass each other. Also, very windy and switchback-like. And that was just the road to the trailhead. We turned around and drove back toward home. I would maybe try it again in July.
(Let it be known, at this point, that I had previously said, "Hey, we should stay here or south, since it's going to be the warmest in these parts...There might be snow in the mountains" when we were planning this expedition. He said, "No. Mountains. It'll be fine." I did not bring this up on the drive back to town.)
We saw a sign for Green Mountain Falls. I looked some stuff up on my phone as we were driving and they seemed to have a really extensive trail system, varying levels, all around the base of Pike's Peak. We took the road with the sign that said "Green Mountain Falls --->". It led us to a small, kinda cute, tourist town but no trailhead. No signs. No nothing. I couldn't believe it. I was sorely disappointed with our 6 minute drive through Green Mountain Falls. There looked to be a couple of cute restaurants so, if we'd be able to find what we were looking for, we definitely would've had lunch there.
Scott suggested Stratton Open Space. I (and I did not mention this either) had suggested it the night before and there was one reason or another why that wasn't going to work (oh, right: mountains). Oh the way there, we passed a sign for Rainbow Falls. We pulled off. It was a 200 yard hike to a bunch of graffiti-covered concrete with a giant waterfall running right through Manitou Springs. They must call it "rainbow" because of all the paint colors.
Onto Stratton Open Space.
We actually liked this place. We hiked for about an hour and my only complaint was that there were no restrooms and parking was kind of limited. It was easy to find, accessible, and the trail was clearly marked.
There was a sign that said dogs had to be leashed, but 99.9% of the people weren't following it, so we let ours run a bit too. If it hadn't been February, they could've swam in the reservoir.
Then, we went to Pho and Grill. It was wonderful.
My advice if you want to hike in Colorado Springs:
Do your research and expect very little.
I mean, honestly, there are hiking trails everywhere you turn in this town, but we were looking specifically for a place that wasn't too crowded and we wanted to let the dogs off their leashes. We probably should've driven south to Pueblo again. Everyone had flocked to the trails since it was so warm out on this particular Saturday.