Things To Do

Serpents Trail, a 1.75-mile trail on the east side of Colorado National Monuments, unwinds like a giant snake up 800 feet of elevation gain with 18 looping switchbacks. In 1912, John Otto, a trailbuilder and monument pioneer, began building the trail as a scenic auto road. After finishing it in 1921, Otto called it the “Crookedest Trail in the World.” Begin the 3.5-mile, round-trip hike at a parking area 0.2 miles from the monument’s east entrance. Cross the road and hike up the steep road to a small parking area on the paved park drive. The trail steadily climbs so make sure you stay hydrated and take rest breaks in summer. Don’t forget to enjoy the views-they’re spectacular!

Pro Tips

  • Serpents Trail is a great workout that gets your heart pumping. Lots of local fitness fanatics regularly use the trail for cardio training. If this appeals to you, work up to hiking up and down it without stopping. Avoid hiking during the heat of the day in summer. Mornings and evenings are cooler.
  • If you want to hike Serpents Trail without all the uphill work, have someone drop you at the upper trailhead. It’s all downhill to the lower trailhead and parking lot, where your buddy or spouse can pick you up.
  • The trailhead for Serpents Trail is 0.2 miles from the monument’s east entrance. Several other trails also begin at the 16-spot parking area on the east side of the road, including No Thoroughfare Canyon, Old Gordon Trail, Devils Kitchen Trail, and Echo Canyon Trail. Across the park road from the lot is Devils Kitchen Picnic Area, with a large covered ramada for shade and restrooms. Additional parking is at the picnic area.
  • Plan to get to the trailhead early on weekends and holidays to secure a parking spot. The lot quickly fills up. Alternatively, drive to the Devils Kitchen Picnic Area and park in its 28-site lot.
  • Recommended season(s): Year-round.

    –Stewart M. Green

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