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On Walkabout On: The Crags Trail, Colorado

Basic Information

  • Name: The Crags Trail
  • Where: Divide, Colorado
  • Distance: 5.5 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 947 feet
  • Time: 3 hours
  • Difficulty: EasyModerateHardDifficult
  • More Information: cospringstrails.com

Topographic Map of the Crags Trail

Picture from the Crags Trail

Elevation Map of the Crags Trail

Picture from the Crags Trail

Narrative

Last weekend (May 10, 2014) a large snow storm was projected to strike Colorado later that day which was going to limit hiking opportunities that weekend to Saturday morning.  Since I only had that morning to do any hiking I decided to knock out a shorter hike I have been meaning to do for quite some time.  Over the past three years I have been slowly completing all 20 hikes in the guide book, “The Best Colorado Springs Hikes (Colorado Mountain Club Pack Guides)” and the Crags Trail was one of the last hikes I needed to complete.  The trailhead is located about an hour drive west of Colorado Springs near the small village of Divide, Colorado:

The turn off to the trailhead is a dirt road off of Highway 67 which is located on the left just after the entrance to Mueller State Park.  There is also a brown sign for the Crags Campground that is posted making this turn hard to miss.  The dirt road initially drives by some beautiful ponds created by beaver dams:

Picture from the Crags Trail

It then drives through the Rocky Mountain Mennonite Camp:

Picture from the Crags Trail

After passing the Mennonite Camp the dirt road becomes more rugged, but still passable for sturdy passenger cars if driven carefully.  The route to the trailhead is clearly marked and is impossible to get lost.  After about 3-miles of driving I pulled into the trailhead at about 6AM:

Picture from the Crags Trail

I have been to this trailhead before from when I hiked up the 14,115 foot Pikes Peak.  You can read about this prior hike at the below link:

This hike was going to be no where near as strenuous, but was still going to have some great views.  So I set off down the Crags Trail which immediately crossed over this creek:

Picture from the Crags Trail

I then hiked up a few switchbacks which lead to some immediate elevation gain:

Picture from the Crags Trail

The trail then came to a fork where there was a faded sign with arrows pointing to the right for the Devil’s Playground Trail up Pikes Peak and to the left for the Crags Trail:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Immediately after I turned left at the trail there was another marker designating the Crags Trail:

Picture from the Crags Trail

The Crags Trail initially followed this beautiful creek:

Picture from the Crags Trail

The trail next crossed this small meadow:

Picture from the Crags Trail

As I walked across the meadow I could see that this trail would provide some spectacular pictures of the aspen trees changing color in the fall:

Picture from the Crags Trail

After hiking through some trees and then entering another meadow; I had a dramatic view of these rocky peaks rising up above me:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Looking at my map this rocky peak was 11,476 feet high which meant it rose about a thousand feet above the valley I was crossing.  As I continued down the trail I also saw plenty of smaller rock formations as well:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Picture from the Crags Trail

The trail then went back into the trees to where there was still plenty of snow on the ground due to the shade this valley receives from the huge surrounding rock formations:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Within the trees is also where the next major elevation gain began as the trail ascended up a hillside.  On the top of the hill I had some great views looking Northeast towards Ute Pass:

Picture from the Crags Trail

I also had some nice views towards the Southeast where this large rocky peak could be seen:

Picture from the Crags Trail

These porcupine like pinnacles were also quite impressive to see:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Looking towards the South I could see the Sangre de Cristo Range rising up in the distance:

Picture from the Crags Trail

It was on this section of the hill that I spotted the only wildlife I saw all day, this little bird:

Picture from the Crags Trail

As the trail continued to climb I began to have even better views of the impressive rocky peaks to my South:

Picture from the Crags Trail

The trail then came its highpoint at this prominent rock formation:

Picture from the Crags Trail

From here there were sweeping views in all directions.  To the South I had views of the impressive rocky peaks I saw before being backdropped by the giant bulk of Pikes Peak:

Picture from the Crags Trail

To the South I spotted one of the peaks I plan on hiking the following weekend, the 12,527 foot Sentinel Point:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Here is a closer look at Sentinel Point which is supposed to be a pretty difficult hike to complete despite being only a 12,000+ foot peak:

Picture from the Crags Trail

To the Southwest I had more rock formations to admire:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Picture from the Crags Trail

To the West I could see the 10,605 foot Raspberry Mountain:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Further in the distance beyond Raspberry Mountain I could also see the Tarryall Mountains:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Even further out to the West I could see the high peaks of the Mosquito Range:

Picture from the Crags Trail

To the North I could see the three lakes located above Ute Pass.  Starting from the right is Crystal Reservoir which is the lake people driving up the Pikes Peak Highway see.  In the middle is South Catamount Reservoir, and on the left is North Catamount Reservoir:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Here is a closer look at North and South Catamount Reservoirs:

Picture from the Crags Trail

I actually hiked up to both of these reservoirs before from Ute Pass.  You can read about this hike at the below link:

Here is a panorama of the view looking towards the Northwest that I took using my iPhone 5S:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Here is another panorama picture of the view looking towards the Southeast:

Picture from the Crags Trail

After I finished taking pictures of the great view, I continued to follow the ridgeline towards this prominent rock formation:

Picture from the Crags Trail

After looking at all these scenic rock formations it was easy to understand why this is called the Crags Trail:

Picture from the Crags Trail

From the ridgeline the trail then descended into the trees:

Picture from the Crags Trail

It was a bit difficult to follow at times to follow the trail because of all the snow on the ground:

Picture from the Crags Trail

However, I was able to continue to follow and it eventually took me across the valley to what is known according to my guide book as the Shady Side Trail.  Walking back to the trailhead from the other side of the valley provided me some good views of this impressive rock formation:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Here is another view of this impressive rock formation:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Eventually the Shady Side Trail merged with the Devil’s Playground Trail which after crossing a small creek led back to the trailhead:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Here is the final creek crossing that took me back to the trailhead:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Once I got back to the parking lot I could see that the sun was fully up now with a deep blue sky which made it hard to believe that a snowstorm would be hitting the area in just a few hours:

Picture from the Crags Trail

Conclusion

As it turned out the Pikes Peak region ended up receiving significant snowfall from the storm.  I was glad I was at least able to knock out this trail before the weekend storm hit.  The Crags Trail I found to be quite a nice hike and I plan to bring my family here to hike the trail again later in the year.  The rock formations are very impressive to see even from the valley.  So for those that do not want to do the full 5.5 mile hike, just hiking the approximately 4-mile round-trip hike into the valley still makes for a nice walk without having to do much elevation gain.  That is what I plan to do when I bring my family back up here since my 4-year can handle a 4-mile round-trip hike.  I am definitely looking forward to returning and seeing the impressive rock formations again on the Crags Trail.

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