North Cheyenne Cañon Park boasts wild escapes. Take the trail to Mount Muscoco, following that wooded ridge to the craggy platform overlooking the canyon mouth. Trek to the lesser-known Mays Peak. Tramp the 4-mile Columbine Trail, a fabulous tour of the rugged beauty gracing southwest Colorado Springs.
Or traipse to St. Mary’s Falls, a more arduous out-and-back trip to the tall cascade deep in the forest. That is the park’s most impressive and serene waterfall. Helen Hunt Falls is more accessible, more suitable to visiting flat-landers. Yet how can residents deny this landmark named for a local legend?
Helen Hunt Jackson came to the Springs in 1873, seeking its health benefits. The renowned writer was said to frequent this canyon, where silvery falls tumble over rocks, filling a refreshing pond.
On the road to the canyon’s top, tourists stop at the large parking lot for their Colorado photo op. For more views, they get their heart pumping on the series of steps starting by the water, crossing the bridge above the falls and continuing up the hillside.
Most out-of-towners can get to the overlook in 20 minutes, though they might pause along the way, catching their breath and taking in the views that open after the second switchback: evergreen hillsides, the distant city and plains. At the top, you see the dirt lot where Gold Camp Road and High Drive meet — the “hub” and gateway to more marvelous trails.
Winter at Helen Hunt Falls is without crowds. But while the cascade’s roar through ice is impressive, the fairly steep trail up is slick and snow-packed. Don’t dare leave the Yaktrax behind.
Trip log: 0.75 miles out and back, 200 feet elevation gain
Getting there: Off Interstate 25, exit for Tejon Street going south. Take slight right onto Cheyenne Boulevard and at the light, keep right on Cheyenne Canyon Road. Park entrance will be on right. Continue up the road to parking lot.
FYI: Park open 5 a.m.-11 p.m. May 1-Oct. 31; 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 1-April 30. Dogs on leash. Recommended for hikers only.
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