A gentle loop displaying vast beauty of Cheyenne Mountain State Park

We’re always pleasantly surprised by the space available at Cheyenne Mountain State Park’s Limekiln trailhead

BY SETH BOSTER Contact the writer: seth.boster@gazette.com



The Gazette, Colorado Springs



We’re always pleasantly surprised by the space available at Cheyenne Mountain State Park’s Limekiln trailhead, the park’s primary launch point. We trail regulars in Colorado Springs are accustomed to parking hassles at other preserves in the city, especially in summer. But from our experience, that’s never been the case at the foot of the area’s second most recognizable mountain. The reason is obvious: You have to pay to enter the state park. Those with the cash to spare will be rewarded by a trail network that ranges from extreme (Dixon Trail to the mountaintop) to easy (the loop we spotlight here). And, yes, we can almost guarantee tranquility. On a recent Sunday morning, we counted only three others along the loop, a good showcase of the park’s mountain views, meadows and forests. We think of Sundance and Blackmer as the park’s premier loops, each covering about 3 miles. Zook encompasses similar nature in a shorter distance, well-suited for those who struggle physically or those with little ones. We spotted a kid appearing new to mountain biking. For the swooping downhill at the end, it’s best to do the loop counter-clockwise; soon up from the trailhead, see the blue marker on the right. That blue marker will be your guide along the way. Also throughout, you’ll marvel at Cheyenne Mountain’s craggy face. It looms in alternating landscapes: open and grassy, then densely shaded by oak, ponderosa pine and Douglas fir. After a little more than a half-mile, stay on the clear singletrack to the right, rather than the overgrown doubletrack. The trail gently rises to skirt a hillside, with open views to the plains. Descend back to the parking lot. Trip log: 1 mile, 94 feet elevation gain Getting there: State park at 410 JL Ranch Heights Road. Entrance off Colorado 115, across from Fort Carson gate. Ahead of the pay kiosk, follow the road to the left to the Limekiln parking lot. FYI: $9 day pass per vehicle. Hiking and biking. No dogs. Day use 5 a.m.-10 p.m.