Waldo Canyon is located West of Manitou Springs, in the foothills of Pikes Peak. The canyon contains one of the more challenging trail runs in the area. The trail’s long climbs and overall altitude gain have the Waldo Canyon run a popular training route for those preparing for the Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon.
The overall setup of the trail resembles a big lollipop. The first section is about 2 miles long, winding up the hillsides before entering the actual canyon. This first section is pretty gradual, winding mostly uphill until the last 1/2 mile, where the route descends to an open meadow. About 100 yards past the meadow, the trail splits, forming a 3.5 mile loop (there is an obvious sign). To the left the trail winds up a narrow canyon, following a creek. To the right, the trail climbs steeply up a number of switchbacks, cresting numerous times onto ridges before eventually dropping into the canyon with the creek.
I have run the route counterclockwise, which starts with a series of steep switchbacks before leveling out as the trail runs along two ridges and then eventually starts winding downhill. It looks like either way is equally difficult as both require steep climbs right at the beginning. Regardless of which way you take, the views within the loop are amazing; canyon walls, Pikes Peak, Manitou Springs, Colorado Springs, the Garden of the Gods and Red Rocks Canyon are all within sight.
The trails is fairly heavily populated, but it seems like most people stop at the meadow and avoid the loop. The trail is dog friendly too. Waldo is my new favorite run in this part of Colorado, one that definitely makes it easy to come back for more.
Map with elevation profile and terrain details.
Do it because: great views of Pikes Peak and the surrounding area, a challenging trail run with a good mix of climbs, flats and descents
Distance: 6.85 miles round trip: 1.69 to the beginning of the loop, 3.47 for the loop, 1.69 miles back to the trailhead.
Directions: From downtown Manitou, head West on Highway 24 for about 2 miles. The parking lot and trailhead is on the right. Watch for a sign on the right hand side of the Highway that indicates a trail is ahead.
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