Here are a few suggestions from The Gazette on how to make the most of a snow day around Colorado Springs and the Pikes Peak region.
There are no dedicated sledding hills in Colorado Springs, but when snow accumulates, plenty of hills in town will do the trick – just be ready to hoof it back up for more.
Sledding is allowed at all of the city’s parks and open spaces, and several are suited to the purpose.
Among them are Cottonwood Creek Park, at Dublin Boulevard and Rangewood Drive, and Bear Creek Regional Park, at 21st Street and Rio Grande, which boast wide, gentle hills, though both tend to be busy. Monument Valley Park is also a good pick, either where Fontanero Street ends or just west of the Fine Arts Center, 30 W. Dale St.
Wagner Park, at East Pikes Peak Avenue and Stanford Street, is one of several smaller neighborhood parks with a devoted following, especially with parents of younger children.
Schools are well-represented. At Howbert, 1023 N. 31st St., a wide, rolling hill empties out on an activity field free of obstacles. Sledders at Trailblazer Elementary School, 2015 Wickes Road, in past years have had a blast roaring over built-up jumps. Other candidates are Jenkins Middle School on Austin Bluffs Parkway and Timberview Middle School off Scarborough and Squirreltail drives.
South of town, Mesa Ridge High School, 6070 Mesa Ridge Parkway, is a reliable draw when snow accumulates.
When inspecting potential parks, be careful to avoid areas with obstacles such as soccer goals and chain-link fences, which tend to attract children.
Cross-country skiing, snowshoeing
For cross-country skiing, Fox Run Regional Park, 2110 Stella Drive, is a popular choice, though many parks are suitable if enough snow falls.
One off-the-beaten route recommended by skiers can be found on High Drive. For the easy version, start at the upper High Drive gate, at the intersection with Gold Camp Road, and tackle the gentle climb to the north before descending toward the Section 16 trailhead. Those looking for a challenge may elect to ski up High Drive and turn around at the upper gate.. This route can be extended based on fitness.
Although the Manitou Incline is best avoided during periods of heavy snow, nearby Barr Trail is a candidate for rewarding snowshoeing, though hikers are encouraged to leave enough energy – and daylight – for the trip down.
Bear Creek Regional Park also can be a good spot for snowshoeing.
Located a half-hour drive from Colorado Springs, Mueller State Park in Teller County is a perennial draw for winter adventures, including snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. The area is also popular with hikers, with traction devices such as Kahtoola Microspikes highly recommended.
The 5,000-acre park is home to elk, mule deer and bears, and camping is also available, both at cabins and RV/tent sites.
Mueller also boasts three popular sledding hills: Preacher’s Hollow, Elk Meadow and Peak View, each located next to a trailhead.
“We plow each of those trailheads, so there’s plenty of parking,” said Trava Thomas, a park staff member.
To get to Mueller, take U.S. 24 into Divide and head south on Colorado Highway 67 for about 4 miles. Turn right at the entrance sign.
Also in Teller County is Raspberry Mountain Trail, a 5.8-mile hike excellent for snowshoeing, if a bit steep. Trailhead accessibility can be an issue, and four-wheel drive is recommended.
The trail is located on Teller County Road 62, just south of the entrance to Mueller State Park.
When the road is impassable, it’s a good spot for cross-country skiing.
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