Hiking Waldo Canyon, Colorado Springs, CO

Hike Summary: 7.3 miles, 1085 net altitude gain. Decent hike. Started about 1445, and done around 1830.

The meeting I was at got done early, around noon, and after lunch and an email check, I selected Waldo canyon and headed out. It’s very close to downtown Colorado Springs, right up US 24. The parking lot holds about 15 cars. There is no water there, so fill up before you get there.

There is a lot of up here, but it is balanced by some contour following. I took one break to participate in a telecon for work, and another near the top to admire the view and the breeze.

The trail starts out wide and graveled. Note that there is NO cover for this part of the hike. The trail goes up to a loop, and every bit of the pre-loop, and about 1/3 of the east side of the loop, is pretty much exposed to the sun.

A couple hundred feet up, there is a formation of Pikes Granite. It’s pretty cool.

One other thing I noted on this part of the trail, there are tons of sparkles of pyrite in the trail. It makes for an interesting effect as you walk if you are looking down.

As you get higher, you get some pretty decent views of Colorado Springs. I took this shot from a trailet that led a bit east off the main trail. That’s Cheyenne Mountain to the right, and US 24 left of center.

There are some places where you get cover. The trail is always side and well paved. There are very few places where you have to stairstep using rocks or roots.

As you get higher, Pikes Peak comes into view, looming a couple ridges over.

I think this very cool cliff formation is Williams Canyon. More on that later.

Eventually you come to up and over the trail high point, and you are at the top of Waldo Canyon. This pano is naturally dominated by Pikes Peak.

You start heading back down at the point. One thing I noticed, at one place on the trail, there were a bunch of pine pieces; each had a lot of small pine cones on. I wondered if some squirrels had been stocking up.

Going down the canyon, there were a couple mongo boulders – huge!

The trail down follows a creek. This was the only water on this trail, and there was not very much of it. It was clear, at least. This is looking back up-trail. A pool-let of water is just to right of center.

I saw a number of squirrels and some birds, but no medium or large mammals. There was some rustling in the leaves to the side of the trail every once in a while, but it could have been birds, chipmunks, or a cougar, who knows.

Here are the maps for the trail topo, terrain, and altitude:

I have tried a couple times to do a 3D plot of a hike. Excel (which I use to generate the altitude graphs like the one right above) claims 3D capability, but I tried many times, with no luck. I tried GnuPlot today, and generated this in about five minutes:

This was interesting. GnuPlot generated the plot, and using the arrow keys, you can shift the perspective in all three dimensions. Useful? Don’t know. Cool? Very.

I saw a total of about 10 people on this hike, and three dogs. It was about 83F when I got on the trail and about 75 when I got back down. I had cell coverage for probably 80% of the hike. Nice hike, I’d do it again.

My plan had actually been to hike both the Waldo Canyon loop, by going up the Waldo Canyon loop counterclockwise, then head on a trail connector over to Williams Canyon, then to the head of that canyon, then complete the Waldo loop. But, I never saw the connector to Williams Canyon. One thing I did not do before I headed out was download the local topo map into my GPS. I just did a quick look of my GPS File Depot Colorado Map, and it shows neither a Williams Canyon placemark or a trail connecting Waldo and Williams. I will have to go back to find the site that referenced that connector trail and see if there is a GPX I can get. Later.

This final shot is not part of the hike, but it is the sunset behind the mountains as I went looking for dinner. I think that the sun is setting over the Waldo Canyon area.

Happy trails!

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