The trails that run through the Garden of the Gods Park weave, meander and intersect to create an elaborate network that is can be difficult navigate, especially when running. The Siamese Twin/Balanced Rock Loop is TWW’s effort to provide a baseline trail run that you can build off and explore from.
The run starts and ends at the Manitou Springs Public Pool, which allows you to avoid the more crowded parking lots in the Garden while also providing for a longer run. From the pool, the route heads east along the new Fountain Creek Path, winding toward the Manitou Springs Skate Park where the run heads north, into the Garden and on to the trails. Because this route is composed of multiple trails, it can be confusing to describe, or even run, with precision. We have provided a listing of trails, and a general map, but part of the fun of any trail run is figuring out the route, we therefore leave most of the navigating to you. The route parallels roads for its entire length, which allows for an easy way to keep your bearings (and continue the run) if you lose the trail. Whether in doubt of which trail to take or sick of exploring, just hop on the roads to continue the run.
For the most part the route is rolling; with gradual climbs punctuated by short downhill sections. The trails are in good condition, mostly compact with some sections that have minor erosion. Watch out for horse manure, and their producers, as the Garden is a popular spot for horse back riding. The trails are also used by mountain bikers, so heads up around blind corners. Generally the tourist population stick to the roads and picnic areas, so your run should be relatively fanny pack free.
The route provides a great way to explore the Garden’s nooks and crannies and smaller, but no less dramatic formations. We suggest an early morning or late afternoon/sunset run to experience the interplay of sun, sandstone and mountains. Because many of these formations and vistas are only accessible via trail, such as the Siamese Twin formation, there are very few people getting in your way, allowing for more solitude as you explore some of the most beautiful trail running in the Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs area.
Do it because: the dramatic scenery that provides not only a great run, but a good introduction to the trails in the Garden.
Distance: 6.77 mile loop
Directions: Starting at the Manitou Springs Public Pool (202 Manitou Ave.), head towards the basketball court where you will find an entry point for the Fountain Creek Path. Head right (east) on the paved path as it crosses under Buena Vista Road and continues along a open space field, before ending at the Manitou Springs Skate Park. From there, head north on Beckers Lane into the Garden.
At the Garden of the Gods Trading Post, head righ on to Garden of the Gods Road. About 100 yards after the Trading Post there is a trailhead for 1) the Strausenback Trail on the right side of the road, take this. From there; 2) take the Scotsman Trail as it heads north where it will intersect with 3) the Buckskin Charlie Trail which will take you south east (along the Juniper Way road) where it will turn into the 4) Niobrara Trail (after crossing Ridge Road). Niobrara will intersect with the 5) Ute Trail which you will take north (parallel to the Juniper Way Road) as it gently climbs and then turns into a long descent. After the descent the trail will cross Gateway Road and then will turn into the 6) Susan G. Bretag Trail which continues north. After the Dakota Trail fork the trail turns in to the 7) Palmer Trail, which u-turns you back south, still parallel to the Juniper Way Road. Continue on the Palmer Trail as it continues south and then begins climbing up to the Siamese Twin formation.
After the formation take the 8) Siamese Twin Trail south on to the (9) Balanced Rock Trail which will climb to the Balanced Rock formation. From here the trail running ends, and the road running picks back up. From Balanced Rock take Garden Drive as it winds downhill toward Manitou where it will intersect with the Fountain Creek Path. Take the path back to the pool parking lot.
View Balanced Rock/Siamese Twin Loop – Colorado Springs, CO in a larger map