Legend has it that in 1859 two surveyors came across an area of incredible rock formations near Pike’s Peak. The sight prompted one surveyor to exclaim, “Why, it is a fit place for the gods to assemble. We will call it the Garden of the Gods.” One look at the majestic 300-foot orange sandstone spires and you’ll see the aptness of the name. You’ll also find yourself eager to explore. Fortunately, this U.S. National Natural Landmark and public park has lots of trails over which you can ramble, including some perfect hikes for seniors. Here’s a list of the best Garden of the Gods hikes:
Siamese Twin Trail
This half-mile loop has less than a 150-foot rise, making it a lovely walk past the Siamese Twins rock formation with a view of Pikes Peak in the distance. This trail does have stairs to control erosion.
Perkins Central Garden Trail
This 1.5-mile paved trail loops along the base of many of the park’s distinctive rock formations. With only a 30-foot rise, there’s very little elevation gained, making it a popular walking and running trail. Keep your eyes open for White Rock and Kissing Camels.
The Palmer Trail (Chambers/Bretag Loop)
You’ll want to have a trail map before you start this 2.5-mile loop hike, which combines several trails to circle through most of the park. It’s considered a moderate hike, so newbie hikers may find it — and its roughly 250-foot rise in elevation — a challenge. But it’s less frequented than other, easier trails, and passes through rolling hills with scenic views.
The Ridge Trail
Another half-mile loop, this dirt trail takes you to the foot of The Sleeping Giant rock formation. Including stairs and an elevation gain of 150 feet, this picturesque trail passes through lovely terrain with views of the park and Pikes Peak.
The Scotsman/Buckskin Charlie Trail
Combining the 1.1-mile Scotsman Loop and 1.5-mile Buckskin Charlie Trail, this loop meanders through wildflower meadows in early summer and offers views of much of the Central Garden formations. It’s considered a moderate hike with a 130-foot elevation gain. Birders and horseback riders enjoy this trail as well.
The Balanced Rock Loop Trail
This easy 1-mile loop takes you past Balanced Rock, the 35-foot, 1.4-million-pound rock that’s seemingly precariously balanced on a small base. Take time for the customary photo of your hiking companion “holding up” the rock.
Helpful Reminders Before You Hit the Trail
There’s no doubt hiking is good for you. The physical activity boosts life expectancy, sleep quality and cardiovascular health, while reducing brain fog and the risk of Type 2 diabetes. Combine those benefits with the therapeutic effects of being in nature and you’ve got a winning pursuit for active seniors. But before you set out on any of the best hikes in the Garden of the Gods, there are a few precautions you should take.
- Bring water. Experts recommend drinking at least a quart of fluid per hour when you’re engaged in vigorous hiking or hiking in the heat. Drink plenty of water before and after your hike as well. It can help if you know the signs of dehydration — rapid heart rate, weakness, fatigue, cramps, dizziness or low volumes of dark urine.
- Get acclimated. It can be difficult to adjust to Colorado’s elevation, so if you’re from out of state, give yourself a few days to adapt before you hit the trail. If you feel winded, nauseated or fatigued, take a breather.
- Pack a map of the park. Although the trails at Garden of the Gods are marked, they often intersect, making it easy to lose your bearings. Pick up a free map at the visitor center so you stay oriented and, if you want, mix and match trails to pick your own routes through the park.
- Tell someone where you’re going. Not every trail gets good cell phone service, so even if you’re just doing a half-mile loop, it’s good to let a friend know which trail you’re hiking and when you expect to be back. That way if you twist an ankle, you’ll know someone will be checking up on you relatively soon.
Independent Living Near the Garden of the Gods
After going on one of the best hikes in Colorado Springs, how nice it would be if home were only a few miles away! If you lived at Aberdeen Ridge, it would be. You could come home to a chef-prepared dinner or cool off with a swim in the pool. Aberdeen Ridge is an independent living community with a continuum of care. Here, busy, active seniors enjoy amenities and services that make it easier for them to do the things they love amid the natural wonders in and around Colorado Springs. Our prime location is one of our top selling points for active seniors. Contact us to learn more.