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The Cliff House BlogExplore the Red Rock Canyon Open Space


Explore the Red Rock Canyon Open Space

27 Jun, 2016

Land restoration is on the cutting-edge of conservation these days. The process involves reclaiming natural landscapes and habitats to make them safe again for humans, wildlife, and plant communities. In 2003, the City of Colorado Springs took control of 780 acres known as the Red Rock Canyon Open Space. Since 2003, the recreational area has expanded to 1474 acres, 653 of which are devoted to hiking, climbing, mountain biking, and horseback riding.

The landscape is famous for its canyons and ridges that 240 million years of wind, water, and frost erosion have shaped into a geological wonderland. Much of the land has been reclaimed -- that is to say, rescued -- from industrial use. Red Rock Canyon was once home to rock quarries, gravel pits, a gold refining mill, and even a 53-acre landfill. The casual hiker should consider the Upper Dog Loop trip trail. Dogs, bicycles, and horses are allowed here. The trail is about a mile, so it should take you an half-hour or less. The Lower Dog Loop is shorter, but it's also noisier, as is it overlooks Highway 24. For the best views of Pikes Peak and the Garden of the Gods, set out on the Mesa/Greenlee trail. This 2.85 mail loop is uphill on the way out and conveniently down hill on the way back. History buffs should take the Quarry trail, which leads to a defunct 19th century rock quarry, featuring some of the park's largest rock formations. Look for the "miner's staircase," steep steps cut directly into the rock.

To get a bird's-eye of the park, take the Hogback trail, the longest trail in the park at 3.3 miles. Up on the mesa, the landscape is mostly meadows, which are bright and colorful in late spring and early summer when the wildflowers are in bloom. Red Rock Open Space is a short drive from the Cliff House. Head down the mountain toward Colorado Springs on route 24 and you'll find several entrances and trail heads on the right side of the road. Happy hiking!

Address: 3550 West High Street, Colorado Springs, CO 80904