Manitou Park Lake Trail, located in Manitou Park Recreation Area, makes a 2.4-mile loop hike around Manitou Lake and along meandering Trout Creek north of Woodland Park in Pike National Forest. The trail, beginning at five parking lots on the west side of the lake, encircles the five-acre lake and crosses willowy marshes at the lake’s inlet. A spur trail makes a tight loop north of the lake’s dam along the west bank of twisting Trout Creek. The mile-long loop around the lake is a popular hike by itself, especially with families and fisherman. The north side of the lake offers great views of the rugged north slopes of Pikes Peak reflected in the placid water. Manitou Lake, tucked among open ponderosa pine trees, is a popular trout fishery, especially for kids. A popular picnic area on the west side of the lake has a historic stone pavilion, vault toilets, water, trash collection, and 42 picnic sites with tables and fire grates. A fee is charged to use the recreation area and trail.
- Reach the trail and Manitou Lake from Colorado Springs and Interstate 25 by driving northwest on U.S. 24 for 19 miles to Woodland. Turn right or north on Colorado Highway 67 and drive 7.2 miles to Manitou Lake on the right. Parking lots and picnic sites are located on the west side of the lake. Trailheads are at the dam and the south end of the lake.
- Start the hike on the west side of the dam. Hike across the dam and walk west on the level trail atop a dirt levee. The trail bends south and crosses meadows to the south end of Manitou Lake. Turn west and cross a long boardwalk across wetlands and beaver ponds. Watch for beavers busily building their dams. Finish the mile-long lake loop by heading north along the shore to the dam.
- Two spur trails leave Manitou Lake Loop for a longer hike. For the first one, go left at a trail junction on the southeast side of the lake and hike south for 0.5 miles through an open pine forest to highway 67 at the entrance to Colorado Campground. Return to the lake for a one-mile, out-and-back hike. The other 0.6-mile loop begins at the dam and goes north, dropping to the west side of the creek. Head north on the narrow trail, then climb to a north parking area and follow a good trail back to the dam.
- The Manitou Lake area makes a great weekend getaway in summer with five nearby campgrounds-81-site Colorado, 18-site Painted Rocks, 64-site South Meadows, Pike Community, and Red Rocks. Pike Community and Red Rocks are group sites. Reservations are accepted for the campgrounds and the Manitou Lake Pavilion.
Recommended season(s): May through September.
–Stewart M. Green