For hikers and mountain bikers on Front Range, 715 is the magic number

Near Monument, Forest Service Trail 715 rises through scrub oak with promontories of Rampart Range seen in the distance. Photo Credit: Seth Boster, The Gazette.

If you’re in the know — an outdoorsy Monument local or avid mountain biker sweeping the Pikes Peak region’s singletrack — then you know about Forest Service Trail 715. If you’re not in the know and tired of overcrowding at Colorado Springs parks and open spaces, check it out.

One way to access 715 is from the Monument Preserve, the sanctuary of evergreens and meadows. The official parking lot is where Mount Herman and Nursery roads meet, but continue on Nursery Road and come to a gate with a sign requesting “RESPECT.” The trails ahead are stewarded by volunteers, who are also busy policing rogue paths.

Trail 715 is, indeed, well-maintained and easy to follow. Continue behind the gate for 0.15 miles and see the singletrack running left through scrub oak. The low woods dominate for the first mile, affording views of Herman’s big, craggy face and Rampart Range running in either direction. To the east, Black Forest rises to the sky.

Several unmarked turnoffs are along the way, and those in-the-know have their favorite routes. Many head toward Mount Herman Road and cross for the popular Limbaugh Canyon Trail. For this trip on foot, we stayed straight, opting for interchanging landscapes and a panoramic overlook near the 2-mile mark.

“Gnar”-craving riders might appreciate the rocks and roots in the pine forest — or be frustrated by too many hike-a-bike sections. There are some narrow chutes and punchy drops on the plus side.

At the overlook, the trail descends west for more refreshing vistas. It’s worth following for a half-mile, at which point it splits left and right. Either way, the trail gets lost in the ruggedness. If uncomfortable navigating, turn around.

Trip log: 5.8 miles round trip (out and back), 1,978 feet total elevation, 7,833 feet max

Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: From Interstate 25 north, take Exit 161 for Monument and continue west through town on Second Street. At Mitchell Avenue stop sign, turn left, going to right turn for Mount Herman Road. Turn left for Nursery Road, which becomes dirt. Stay straight to gate, where there’s a small parking lot.

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