I’m just going to come out and say it: Agia Sophia is a coffee shop/bookstore that is run by a group of Greek Orthodox priests who sometimes serve as the baristas. It draws a lot of Colorado Spring’s young and hip Christian crowd and is adorned with all manner of Eastern Christian religious icons and books. This is all very strange. What surprises me is how warm and welcoming it is, for everybody, and the quality of the coffee (which is really what’s important). Continue reading
Category Archives: Colorado Springs
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. Continue reading
We here at TWW try to avoid writing about obvious features in an effort to avoid putting more people into already crowded parks and recreating areas. The gigantic redstone formations that jut from the ground in shark like fashion make the Garden of the Gods hard to miss. But the park is such a scenic and accessible place to run and ride that ignoring it eliminates one of the best places to get outside in the Manitou/Colorado Springs area.
First, the bad. This park is a hotspot for RVs, families, slow walkers, motorcycles, and photographers. They clog the roadways, they meander down the trails and they add traffic and noise to a pristine environment that is better enjoyed with minimal noise pollution. On top of that are the horse tours that bring their mounts through some of the trails and liberally deposit fertilizer within sneaker striking distance.
However, there is good. Thanks to the deluge of tourists in the area, and the need to maintain the park’s geographic features, the city undertook a project that rerouted the roads, eliminating the ability of cars to drive through the park’s middle and regulating traffic to a loop that winds around the perimeter of the park, leaving the more pristine areas of the park inaccessible via car. The roadways are smooth, incredibly wide and run in only one direction around the park, cutting down on cross traffic and reducing car speed. The center of the park, its most scenically striking area and once a car thoroughfare, has been reclaimed and now sports numerous trails. Additionally, most tourists stick close to the roadways and parking lots, leaving a lot of the trails empty. And parking here is abundant, with each lot allowing easy access to the trails that ring the park.
For runners, the park sports a number of dirt trails that are mostly rolling, winding through low foothills and open meadows, with everyone allowing views of the park, the mountains to the West, and Pikes Peak. The trails are well marked and hard packed, and generally well maintained. Running along the road is another good option, as the roadway’s bike lane is wide enough for both runners and cyclists. The loop here is not long enough for a good ride, but the park is a great way to start or end a longer cycling loop. Some of the hills in the park are steep enough for climbing intervals, allowing for a tortuous, yet scenic, workout.
The Garden’s location makes it easy to loop it into longer runs or rides in the area. Check out the Intemann Trail/Red Rocks Canyon Loop and the Cheyenne Canyon Loop for routes that run through or near the park, and run our Siamese Twins Loop to explore some of the Garden’s hidden formations. The park’s location, and perhaps one of its best features, is its location near Manitou Springs and the West Side of Colorado Springs, making a long run followed up by a cold beer possible without hopping in a car, or RV.
Red Rocks Canyon was created from a mosaic of features that don’t typically scream “State Park destination!” It is a park built around the remnants of a rock quarry, landfill, illicit climbing walls and abandoned ranch sites that has somehow managed to evolve into one of the most scenic parks in the state. The Canyon is a Garden of the Gods in miniature version; a rougher, less traveled park without all of the over trafficked, McDonald’s fueled tourists that clog the Garden during the warm summer months.
Red Rocks is a great trail running destination; with all of the pine forests, sandstone formations and open meadows that the Garden has, without the paved roads and paths that created throngs of tourists. The formations here are not as dramatic, but they create multiple canyons that are easy to explore via the trails, and provide for some surprisingly dramatic scenery.
Generally the terrain from the parking lot slopes uphill, making runs here more climbing oriented. Due to the mishmash of ways in which the park was used before its birth, there are some oddities that occasionally pop up during runs. For instance, the graffiti filled cave off of the Red Rock Rim Trail that was a big party spot for local high school kids, the remnants of the old quarry where the rock has been removed in large blocks and the large methane vents dotting the meadow where the Hogback Valley Trail runs; vestiges of the landfill that decays slowly underneath the meadow.
One of the best features of this park is its access to the Intemann Trail and the Section 16 area, allowing you to expand your runs beyond the park and into the higher foothills of the Springs area. Currently a hot spot for runners, climbers and mountain bikers, Red Rocks is a great place to put in some miles, check out the views and enjoy the benefits of good urban planning, without RVs barreling towards you.
Trail map here (PDF version)
Distance: trail lengths vary. The longest, the Lion Trail, is 1.0 miles. Trails can easily be linked to create longer runs, and the park connects with Section 16 and the Intemann Trail; allowing for longer pieces.
Directions: From downtown Colorado Springs (W. Colorado Avenue at S. Cascade Avenue), take S. Cascade south to Cimmaron/Highway 24 and take a right, heading west. Take a left on Ridge Road and then a left on West High Street. The parking lot is on the right. From downtown Manitou Springs (Ruxton Ave and Manitou Avenue), take Manitou Ave. east towards Colorado Springs. Take the Highway 24 onramp towards the east (entrance is after the Sinclair gas station). Take a right on Ridge Road and a left on W. High Street toward the parking lot.
The Trinity Brewing Company stands out simply because it does not belong in Colorado Springs. A brewery that is built around environmental consciousness, artisan beer, progressive ideas, indy rock shows, the largest micro-brew tap in the city and food that skews toward vegetarian is decidedly the weird kid on the playground, existing in a town that is known more for mega-churches and unhinged religious leaders than for beer called “Chi.” As it’s tagline sums up well, Trinity is the home of “artisanal beer, slow food, conscious people.” Trinity is James Dobson‘s dining nightmare come to fruition; “the long hairs are everywhere!! It’s the Apocalypse!”
Oddly located in a new strip mall development, within convenient biking/running distance of Garden of the Gods Park, Trinity has carved a thriving little niche in the Colorado Springs bar scene by creating a selection of great beers, in a very unique setting, and hosting a great selection of microbrews from throughout Colorado and the West Coast. The bar draws a decidedly left leaning crowd who have an affinity for good beer and the granola-centric setting. Long and narrow, the brewery has a number of tables for dining, along with an open area at the back that hosts large, comfy couches and provides space for the live music. Additionally, there is a patio out front that gets plenty of sun during the warmer months.
Trinity houses the best beer tap in the Colorado Springs/Manitou Springs area, rivaling some of the bigger bars in Denver. You won’t find Pabst or Bud Light anywhere near this place, but you will find some favorites like Dogfish Head, Flying Dog, New Belgium and Stone Brewing, along with Trinity’s selection of house made beers. The bar prides itself on presentation; with each beer coming in its own “custom” glass and served by one of the numerous, attractive, bartenders. The set up is conducive to serving large crowds, and the service while sitting at the bar is excellent. The actual bar is one of the most unique features of the brewery; running almost half the length of the brewery, the bar is made of beer bottles that have been broken down and lacquered, creating a semi-opaque, mulit-colored platform that fits nicely with Trinity’s progressive, eco-friendly image.
While Trinity excels at its beer and bar service the food has managed to suffer from misstep after misstep, making it one of the biggest restaurant misfires in town. The menu Revolving around vegetarian friendly fare (ie; Vegetarian Buffalo Wings), soups and sandwiches (no burgers in sight), the food at Trinity suffers from a poorly planned menu, schizophrenic execution (on one visit, the cheese plate looked like a piece of art, and on the next like someone threw the bread and cheese on the plate while dancing a jig, while wasted on PCP) and incredibly slow service. This is a place that makes you get your own silverware, bus your own table and get your own water; You would think they could manage to at least be on top of the food. No luck. On top of the poor food execution, the wait service is horrendous. Waiters disappear for long periods of time, you’re never sure which one is yours and it takes active participation to make sure everything you order comes out right, if at all; “excuse me ma’am, I’m pretty sure I ordered that sandwhich that’s been sitting under the heat lamp for about thirty minutes now. Thanks.” Overall, a consistently horrendous dining experience (apart from that one cheese plate, that one time).
We have some friends that have worked at Trinity, and from what we hear, many of the kitchen and waitstaff issues can be chalked up to one of the owner’s over confidence in his restaurant running capabilities. Nothing kills a kitchen like an owner with crappy ideas. Here’s to hoping that something or someone will turn the restaurant side of Trinity around. Until then, Trinity is a great place to enjoy great beer. If you get hungry, we recommend a stop at the nearby Chipotle.
Menu (in PDF form)
Location: 1466 Garden of the Gods, Colorado Springs, CO 80907
Hours: Sunday thru Wednesday: 11am to 10pm, Thursday thru Saturday: 11am to midnight
Pricing: beers range from $4 to $6 and beyond, with Trinity’s beers generally being the cheapest. Food ranges from $5 for the soups and salads, $6 to $7 for the appetizers and $8 for most of the sandwiches and “stuffers”.
This route reflects our attempt to link Manitou’s Intemann Trail with Red Rock Canyon, the latest addition to Colorado’s State Park System. Due to a break in the Intemman Trail near the Manitou Springs High School, this route is composed of a mix of road and trail running, resulting in a twisting route that sometimes feels unnecessarily long, but provides some of the best views and trail running the in Manitou/Colorado Springs area.
The run starts on Manitou Avenue’s intersection with Ruxton Ave., where it heads west up Ruxton, turns on Spring Street and heads up a fairly steep, but short, climb on to the Intemann Trail. The Intemann runs east along the foothills south of Manitou until it ends at the Manitou Springs Cemetery. Due to some property/easement issues which prevents a continuation of the trail through the cemetery, the trail picks up again near the Crystal Park neighborhood entrance, requiring a long stretch of road running between the cemetery and the next trailhead. From the Crystal Park trailhead, the Intemann begins its climb into the Red Rock Canyon area, passing a variety of red sandstone formations before intersecting with a connecting trail leading down into the Canyon (the spur is clearly marked). The Intemann varies in width; from singletrack to car lane. Be careful on the spur between Crystal Park and Red Rock Canyon, it’s a popular section for mountain bikers.
Red Rock Canyon provides multiple options for working your through its environs. Part of the fun of the park is exploring its nooks and crannies, so please use our route as a rough guide, our path is but one of many to be taken. Because the park is so new many of the “trails” have yet to be marked, but the cororallary is that the park itself has fewer crowds, allowing for more serene runs than the Garden of the Gods can provide. The views of the park, above and from within, are incredibly beautiful, and make the numb feeling in your toes worth it. There are few places in the Springs area that provide such accessible, dramatic views.
The return route to Manitou consists of side roads back to downtown, passing near the Garden of the Gods, allowing for an extended loop if your legs are up for more work. Make sure to check out the new creek path near the Highway 24 overpass when running west on El Paso Boulevard. The path will dump you out near the Briahurst Manor, allowing you to take Manitou Avenue back into downtown Manitou, where food and recovery beer abound.
Distance: 11 miles round trip
Directions: Starting at the intersection of Manitou Avenue and Ruxton Avenue, run up Ruxton towards the Cog Railroad Depot and take a left on Spring Street (a dirt road, about 1/4 of a mile from the intersection). Once on Spring Street the road will head uphill with a spur taking a hairpin right, continuing uphill. Take the spur which will bring you to the chained entrance to Intemann Trail. Continue uphill where the trail will eventually level off and begin a slow descent to Pawnee Ave where it will end.
Once on Pawnee, head downhill and take a right on Fairmont Avenue. Take Fairmont until it dead ends, at which you can access a short spur of the Intemann trail that will put you on to Delaware Road. Head east on Delaware Road until it dead ends. At the dead end is where the Intemann picks up again, bringing you through a small playground and gradually winding uphill toward the Manitou Springs Middle School. Near the Middle School the trail will take a sharp right and head downhill. Continue on until you you are above the Manitou Springs High School, where the trail will again head downhill and deposit you in the Manitou Springs Cemetery.
Run downhill to exit the cemetery, which will deposit you on to Plainview Place. Continue downhill, where the road will veer right and eventually intersect with Poplar Place. A left on Poplar deposits you on to Crystal Park Road. Take a right on Crystal Park Road (heading east) and run 1.5 miles up to the next Intemann Trail trailhead (there will be a sign on the left). Be careful on this segment; there are no sidewalks, and a few blind corners. Thankfully traffic is usually light.
Once back on the Intemann, the trail will head east, winding above the Crystal Hills neighborhood. About 1.15 miles from the Crystal Park Road entrance, the trail will intersect with an access trail for Red Rocks Park. Take this access trail, winding down toward Red Rocks Park, where the trail will eventually intersect with a much wider path. There are a variety of ways to wind down through the park, so definitely explore.
After reaching the park’s parking lot, cross Highway 24 and West Colorado Ave via Ridge Road. At West Pikes Peak Ave. take a left and run to the intersection with Columbia Road, where you want to take a right and then your first left on to El Paso Boulevard. El Paso will take you all the way back into Manitou. Our route uses a new path that starts near the Manitou Springs Skate Park and runs behind the pool along Fountain Creek until it ends at the Briarhurst Manor. From there, continue West back in to downtown Manitou.
Beyond the endless sprawl that typifies Colorado’s Front Range are a number of more isolated pockets, where the plains from the East run into the foothills of the mountains, that provide the Front Range with some startling geographic formations that make exploring these pockets on bike incredibly fun and almost makes you forget the endless rows of houses behind you. Such is both the frustration and joy of Colorado’s Front Range.
One of the better loops I’ve found in the Manitou Springs/Colorado Springs area winds through a number of these formations while providing some decent climbs and great views of Pikes Peak and downtown Colorado Springs (I’m all about the views). The centerpieces of the ride are Garden of the Gods Park and Cheyenne Canyon, two very distinct geological areas that we loop together through some of Colorado Springs cooler neighborhoods (don’t roll your eyes, they do exist).
The ride starts in Manitou Springs, a cool little pocket in and of itself, winds through town before beginning a short climb into the Garden of the Gods (you can also start in downtown Colorado Springs, but navigating to the Garden of the Gods from there is a bit more traffic intense). The Garden is a series of red sandstone formations that have been pushed vertical by some crazy geological mojo. The formations break up the view of the Pikes Peak foothills, and thanks to the area’s tourist town focus, sports a nice, wide road that runs through the entire park. The Garden sits on a series of hills, so this section of the ride is more rolling than anything else. At its high points, this part of the ride has amazing views of Pikes Peak and the mountains to the South. On a clear day you can see Red Rocks Canyon, the natural extension of the Garden that runs to the South. Because the Garden is a major tourist attraction, the traffic through it can be somewhat heavy, but thankfully the road is wide enough to easily accommodate everybody.
After the ride leaves the Garden of the Gods you will wind your way down toward Colorado Ave., and then head East, through Old Colorado City. Old Colorado City is a mix of shops, restaurants and bars, similar in vibe to Manitou, but with more of a focus on clothing boutiques. I like this area because it feels like a separate town from Colorado Springs, lacking in the whole Army/James Dobson vibe that Colorado Springs has at times (not that there is anything wrong with that. Sort of). The traffic through here moves slowly through two lanes, so riding with the traffic is not much of a problem.
After passing through Old Colorado City, the ride begins a long climb up to the Cheyenne Canyon Area. This part of town is where the huge, new money houses are. So along with every architecturally appealing home is one that looked it was designed by someone who was having a seizure while tripping. A lovely effect. After riding through the Cheyenne Mountain area, the ride takes a turn toward the West, and into the canyon that forms the other half of this ride.
Cheyenne Canyon is a deep gouge in the southern foothills of Colorado Springs, with high rock walls and narrow roads. Riding through the canyon is at once visually stunning, and a bit , treacherous, as there are a number of almost blind corners that cars often come through too fast (this is where our driving teacher took us in high school. I have memories of one of my classmates almost running us into the rock walls on every narrow turn. This is what I think about when I hear cars coming). BUT, don’t let this deter you, as most cars move pretty slow, and the road is wide enough for them to pass you easily. If you head up there at the right time, like the early morning or late afternoon, its rare that you will see a car back there. This part of the ride is the steepest, climbing up a road that runs parallel to a creek. As you come close the crest of the climb, the road passes by Helen Hunt Falls, a worthwhile place to take a break on the way down. Past the falls, the road takes a series of switchbacks before turning to turn at Gold Camp Road. This is where I turn around. The descent back down the canyon is super fast and lots of fun, just be weary of the slow-ass tourists that apparently have never seen rocks before.
After coming out of the canyon, the ride takes you into the Broadmoor neighborhood, but before doing so make sure to ride by Starr Kempf’s house. Starr was a local artist known for his huge steel sculptures that still reside on his front lawn. After this minor detour, the ride heads up past the Broadmoor hotel and crests at the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. This is a short, somewhat intense climb that wraps up the side of Cheyenne Mountain. This part of the ride is worthwhile simply for the views of Colorado Springs and the mountains to the West. I usually loop through the parking lot before heading back down. The descent from the zoo is a ton of fun and will take you past one of the more aesthetically attractive buildings in this part of town, the Broadmoor, a luxury hotel with some amazing landscaping. A great place to bring a date for a drink. There are a number of cool neighborhoods around the Broadmoor/Zoo area that are worth exploring. After the Broadmoor area, the ride will return back through the Cheyenne Mountain neighborhoods, and back through Old Colorado city.
Distance: 31.50 miles roundtrip
Directions: From Downtown Manitou Springs, head East on Manitou Ave and take a left at Buena Vista Place, which is just past the Manitou Pool. At the stop sign take a right, and then your first left onto Garden Drive, which will take you through the Garden (the road goes through a number of name changes, but there is only one route through). You will eventually come to an intersection where you can go right or left onto Juniper Way. Take the left and head down the hill to the stop sign, where you will take a right on Gateway Rd. Look for a dirt road/path on the ride that parallels 30th St. This path is dirt, but lets you avoid the heavily trafficked 30th St. Take this path until it dead-ends onto 31st St. Head south on this and it will take you to Colorado Ave.
At Colorado Ave, take a left and head through Old Colorado City. At 26th St take a right, cross Cimarron/Hwy 24 and climb up to Lower Gold Camp Road. Once you hit Lower Gold Camp take a left and head downhill until you hit S 21st St. Take a right here. 21st will turn into Cresta, and will take you through the Cheyenne Mountain neighborhoods and past the Cheyenne Mountain High School. Soon after the High School you will come to Cheyenne Blvd. Take a left here and head West. Cheyenne Blvd will eventually turn into N Cheyenne Canyon Road. This road will take you all the way to the top of the Cheyenne Canyon section of the loop.
After descending back down the canyon, take a right onto Evans Ave, riding past Starr Kempf’s house, and take a left onto Mesa Ave, and then bear right onto Penrose Blvd. Penrose will take you all the way up to the zoo. Loop through the parking lot and head back down Penrose where you will come to a stop sign (you’ve already been through this intersection), and take a right onto El Pomar Road. This road takes you past the Broadmoor and to a traffic circle. Take the second exit and then take a left at the first opportunity which will put you onto Cresta Rd.
Take Cresta all the way back, but instead of turning back onto Lower Gold Camp, keep heading straight, over the hill, and down until the road (now 21st) intersects with Cimmarron/Hwy 24. Cross the highway, and take a left at Colorado Ave, which will take you back through Old Colorado City. At 31st, take a right and then your first left. This puts you onto W. Pikes Peak Ave, a road that parallels Colorado but has very little traffic. Eventually this road will dead-end. Take a right and then your first left, this puts you onto El Paso Blvd which will take you all the way back to Manitou.