Ute Trail, Garden of the Gods

In 1994 in Garden of the Gods, archaeologists discovered hearths determined to be used by Ute people 3,000 years ago. “Those early inhabitants would have stayed here for short periods of time,” reads interpretive signage at the park, “hunting and collecting plants for food and medicinal purposes.”

Of course, now people go to Garden of the Gods for sightseeing. And in their shuffle for parking and pictures, history might be lost on them.

The Ute Trail is a way to slow down and reflect. It starts along the busy road but soon stretches away, providing peace and quiet and, yes, opportunities to think about the people who came before.

The trailhead is at the South Garden parking lot numbered 10. We started the loop on the north side, toward the towering Gray Rock, better known as Cathedral Rock.

Wooden steps lead down to a meadow. We stayed straight past a couple of turn-offs, veering right at the Gateway Road intersection, and right again for Chambers Trail. Tranquility prevails on the edge of a hogback ridge, facing south to Cheyenne Mountain.

The trail straddles the wooded ridge. Between the iconic, red formations of the Central Garden, Pikes Peak emerges into view. It’s worth admiring by going left, uphill for the Galloway Homestead. Our trip continues at this junction, straight for Valley Reservoir Trail, offering yet more history, bordering the ruins of a dam.

But it’s the undeveloped openness that early people would have known here. It’s preserved ahead, a gorgeous slice where traffic seems far away, lost in the colorful mosaic.

We turned right at the marker for Ute Trail Connection, rising up the ridge and then going right again, following buck and rail fencing down to the parking lot.

Trip log: 1.15 miles round trip (loop)

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: Parking lot south of Gateway Road and Juniper Way Loop intersection. If entering on Gateway Road from main entrance off 30th Street, you’ll have to follow the one-way Juniper loop back around to the trailhead.

FYI: Park open 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Multi-use trail. Dogs on leash. Muddy after snow melts.

SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE

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