This steep, hidden canyon is a natural avenue between the Air Force Academy and secluded Stanley Reservoir on the crest of Rampart Range.

To get there: From the south entrance of the Air Force Academy, drive north on South Gate Boulevard to Pine Drive. Turn left onto Pine Drive. Go 3.9 miles to an unmarked dirt road on the left. Turn left and drive 0.7 miles to the trailhead at the end of the road. Hike starts through a metal gate.

The hike: This is a classic Rampart Range starting point with many longer options. Start by walking up a graded dirt access road. After less than a minute of walking, veer left at a sign for trail 707. Shortly after, follow a sign for Stanley Canyon on the right. Finally, just a few steps ahead, look for a sign to Stanley Canyon at a singletrack trail on the left.

Here the trail begins to climb. It’s rocky. It’s steep. It’s relentless. In winter, or when wet, the granite can be slick. It’s also beautiful. Follow a tumbling stream up between rounded granite ramparts. Take your time. After one mile, the grade eases as the trail enters a high meadow. Follow the valley west to the dam of Stanley Reservoir. This is a natural stopping point and a good spot for a picnic.

Push on to a handful of connecting trails toward Rampart Reservoir or return the way you came.

Details: Must show ID to enter Air Force Academy. No overnight parking at trailhead. Too rocky for bikes.

Dogs: On leash Rating system: A scale of one to four boots. One is easiest, with little elevation gain. Four is most difficult, with severe elevation gain, difficult terrain or extreme length or altitude.

Rating: 2 boots, 4.2 miles round-trip, 1,500 feet elevation gain

*Editor’s Note: This article was originally published in 2009. Please check for current open schedule and trail conditions prior to planning your trip.

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