The 1.03-mile-long Zook Loop Trail at Cheyenne Mountain State Park is a wonderful hike for families, with minimal elevation gain and plenty of shade. The trail traverses grasslands, scrub oak woodlands, and ponderosa pine forest in Limekiln Valley. One of the trail highlights is the Rock Garden, a collection of granite boulders beneath tall pines at the hike’s halfway point. Cheyenne Mountain State Park, on the south edge of Colorado Springs, is a 2,700-acre parkland in the foothills below abrupt 9.565-foot Cheyenne Mountain. The park offers hiking and mountain biking trails, a visitor center, four campgrounds, picnic areas, guided hikes, and nature programs. It’s also a great spot to see wildlife, including mule deer, black bear, coyotes, and even mountain lions.

Pro Tips

  • Find Cheyenne Mountain State Park from Interstate 25 by taking exit 135 for South Academy Boulevard. Drive west on South Academy to Colorado Highway 115 and turn left or south onto 115. Drive south past Fort Carson on the left to a stoplight at JL Ranch Heights Road, which is opposite Fort Carson’s Gate 1. Go right to the park entrance station. Continue past the entrance station for 0.15 mile and turn left to a large parking area. The Zook Loop Trailhead is at the lot’s southwest corner.
  • Zook Loop Trail can be hiked either clockwise or counterclockwise. This description is counterclockwise. From the trailhead, hike west for 0.1 mile to a junction and go right on Zook Loop. Walk through grasslands and scrub oaks on the single-track trail, passing junctions with Coyote Run and Medicine Wheel trails, and reach the Rock Garden after 0.5 miles. Take a rest on the shady boulders, then continue on the trail which crosses the dry creekbed and bends east. Follow the broad trail for 0.4 miles past the Sundance Trail junction to the original junction. Go straight for 0.1 miles to the trailhead.
  • The state park has over 21 miles on 18 trails, making it a great Colorado Springs hiking destination. It’s easy to combine the Zook Loop with other trails like Blackmer Loop, Sundance, and Coyote Run for a longer hike. Carry water in summer and watch for wildlife. Dogs are not allowed on trails.
  • Recommended season(s): Year-round.

    –Stewart M. Green


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