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On Walkabout On: The Garden of the Gods Perimeter Trail

Basic Information

  • Name: The Garden of the Gods Perimeter Trail
  • Where: Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Distance: 4.5 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy (259 feet of elevation gain)
  • More Information: Garden of the Gods official website

GPS Map of the Trail:


I absolutely love visiting, hiking, and taking photos at the Garden of the Gods. Since I am continuing my attempt to complete all the recommend hikes in “The Best Colorado Springs Hikes (Colorado Mountain Club Pack Guides)” book; I figured this winter was time to knock out the perimeter trail around the Garden of the Gods.  I arrived at the main parking lot at the Garden at about 8 AM and even though I have seen this rock dozens of times, I am always impressed by it:

I proceeded to walk across the street to access the Palmer Trail.  From the the trail I made sure to scan the hill to the north where various signs tell visitors that mountain goats can be seen:

From the parking area I followed the Palmer Trail south as it twisted along a hillside providing nice views of the Central Garden area of the park:

Here is a view looking up the red hillsides the Palmer Trail traverses the side of:

Soon enough I found myself on the far side of the large rock wall next to the main parking lot:

On the top of this rock wall the famous “Kissing Camels” are easily visible:

As I continued down the trail I eventually began to have my first views of Pikes Peak during the hike:

The trail then descended down off the hillside towards a rock formation known as the “Giant Footprints:

This rock formation is pretty cool and since it is located near the road that passes through the park there was actually a few people who parked on the side and were taking pictures of the rocks with me:

Something you eventually notice the more time you spend walking around the Garden of the Gods is how there are various spectacular rock formations that can be seen that do not get much attention.  However, if these random rock formations were in just about any other park in the nation they would be key attractions, but due to the variety of incredible rock formations at the Garden of the Gods they receive little notice:

From the Giant Footprints the Palmer Trail continued to travel south adjacent to the road:

Eventually the Palmer Trail came to a junction where I could have continued south towards the “Siamese Twins” or crossed the road to the Scotsman Trail.

I crossed the road to access the Scotsman Trail that traveled in an eastward direction along side a dirt access road:

I actually walked right through an park worker utility area as well as by some homes that border the park:

How awesome would it be to live in a home that literally has the Garden of the Gods as your backyard?  Eventually the Scotsman Trail intersects with the Buckskin Charlie Trail that begins to travel north back towards the Central Garden area of the park:

The trail ascended up a small hill that offered me some nice views of the Central Garden area of the park:

The hill also offered nice views of Pikes Peak, the southwestern section of the park, as well as the various homes that border the Garden of the Gods:

Here is a closer look at some of these homes that had this large rock with small pine tree growing on top it in their backyards:

The Buckskin Charlie Trail continued up the hill:

Eventually I had to cross another park road that then accessed the Ute Trail that traveled north across grassy terrain:

I was now on the southeastern side of the park and here is the view I had of the Central Garden:

Here is the view looking back towards Pikes Peak:

I continue to follow the Ute Trail north where I could see the hill with the mountain goats, the old Queens Canyon Quarry mining scar, as well as the charred hills in the background that were burnt during last year’s Waldo Canyon Fire:

Here is a view of some of the contrasting rock colors as I walked past the Central Garden:

I had not noticed this before, but on the side of “Gray Rock” I could see where erosion had left a debris field that has been slowly been sliding down the side of the rock:

I wonder how many centuries of erosion made that debris field?  Here is a picture looking towards “North and South Gateway Rocks”:

The Ute Trail eventually traveled to the main traffic intersection of the park that has a view looking right between the tow Gateway Rocks:

Across the road of the intersection is where the Susan G. Bretag Trail begins:

This trail continued north and provided more stunning views of the Gateway Rocks:

Here is a view of Pikes Peak framed by the two rocks:

Here is another picture that shows the contrasts in colors at the Garden of the Gods with “White Rock” backdropped by the giant red mass of “North Gateway Rock”:

On top of “North Gateway Rock” the “Kissing Camels” could once again be seen still locking lips:

After about a half mile the Susan G. Bretag Trail took me back to where I started my loop hike at the hill where the mountain goats could supposedly be spotted.  As usual I did not see one goat:


From there I went back to the main parking lot which concluded my hike.  The hike was about 4.5 miles in distance and was the first time I had actually walked completely around the park.  Considering there was so little elevation gain the hike was actually pretty easy and I quite enjoyed taking pictures of the beautiful rocks in the park.  So this hike is highly recommended for anyone looking to spend a half day in the park and break a sweat while doing so.

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