Easy to Moderate Hikes

Apishapa Trail

Distance: Approximately 5 miles
Difficulty: Easy

Logistics are difficult, because you have to park a car 3 miles below Cordova pass before you start hike from Cordova Pass.The Apishapa Trail is one that the Cuchara Valley Recreation program does not do very often due to the logistics issues. This is hike that is mostly down hill! Nice!! Trail head starts at the Cordova Pass parking lot. It follows the same trail that goes to the tree line (or to the top if so desired) of West Spanish Peak for about 1 1/2 miles. The W. Peak trail turns left and upward to climb to the tree line, while the Apishapa trail breaks down. At this point on the trail your elevation is just above the Cordova Pass elevation of about 11,000. The remainder of the trail is all down hill through spruce and aspen forest. The trail’s end hits the Cordova Pass road about 3 miles below Cordova Pass (on the Aguilar side). There is not any water on this hike until the very bottom where you will follow a small stream for the last 3/4 of mile or so.

Blue to Bear to the Ridge Above

Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

We start at the Blue Lake parking lot after meeting at the Rec Hall. After “circling up” for introductions, we hike past several lakes the lie between Blue and Bear lakes. Approximately 3 miles long, the tail is a gradual climb from Blue Lake to Bear Lake. Between the lakes there are many ponds and beaver dams to see. Once we hike pass Bear Lake we start the uphill climb to the ridge. This will be a very special lunch with this view, one of our favorites. It can be cold and windy so remember to bring layers. We retrace our steps back to Bear and Blue Lakes on our return trip. Often a favorite hike!

Dike Trail

Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

In my humble opinion, this trail has the wrong name attached to it. The ridge line that the trail follows from the Spanish Peaks neighborhood down to Cuchara is called a Hogback, not a Dike. A Hogback is a sandstone ridge that has been uplifted during mountain making. A dike is a volcanic intrusion. So, this trail should be called Hogback Trail. Enough said. I won’t make a mountain out of the issue.

After meeting up at the Recreation Center, we drive up to the Dikes Trail head in the Spanish Peaks neighborhood. Our start is a steep one, as we climb to the top of the hogback. It is filled with switchback and plenty of rests so don’t let that scare you. On the way up we get some pretty views of the southern part of the Cuchara river valley the Culebra range (Snowy range). Once to the top of the ridge, we will have lunch with a view. We sit in amongst the sandstone boulders that overlook the White river valley that runs in front of the 3 White mountains (3 Sisters). After lunch, the trail is all down hill! This hike a can be a bit warm and dry so bring lots of water. We end up behind the Recreation Center, on the road up to Eddy’s Acres. Come join us!

Haunted House Meadow

Distance: 3 miles
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

For all ages! After meeting at the Rec Hall, we start at Spring Creek picnic area and make our way to Haunted House Meadow for lunch. The trail starts a bit steep before it eases up to be a gradual climb to some great views of the valley. Along the trail there are many great photo opportunities including some great climbing rocks for the kids and great views of th everyone! Our lunch spot affords a classic view of all three of the White Peaks with the West Spanish Peak in the background. After a relaxing lunch in the meadow, we will make our way to the site of the old homestead and hear the story of the “haunted” house. Our trail back is different from the one up and has some great vistas of the Culebra range, the valley and the 3 White peaks and West Spanish Peak.

KT Trail

Distance: 1.5 round trip
Difficulty: Moderate. Short, steep and hot. 

KT looks out over Cuchara and the Cuchara Valley. It has afforded folks a grand view of our little village of Cuchara for long time.  I am sure it was a favorite spot for the people of the Ute tribe to surveil their summer hunting grounds, perhaps looking across the valley to a summer Ute camp in the meadow we call Haunted House Meadow. 

The rocks that have the CKT painted on them are a part of a hogback of sandstone.  It is called Dakota Sandstone.  The sand in this sandstone was once part of inland sea that reached into our region before our Rocky Mountains were formed.  If you look across the valley and north, you can see other uplifted layers of sandstone, more red in color that are the remnants of another, earlier Rocky Mountains.  KT is not a dike, which are volcanic. KT is uplifted sandstone. In fact, it is the same Dakota Sandstone that forms the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs and the Flatirons near Boulder.

While on top, looking east, you will be able to see North White Peak, Middle White Peak and South White Peak, or the Three Sisters. You will see the White Creek Valley with the small White Creek running through it.  Also, in the background will be the West Spanish Peak.  Looking west you will see the northern section of the Culebra Range (Snake).  From KT, you can see Cuatro, Trinchera, Teddy’s, Napoleon and the final peak to the north, Harrison Peak.

There have been old postcards of the view from KT.  These will be posted too.

The history of the painting of the rocks with the K and T happens in the early 1930’s.  There were groups of Boys Scouts staying in Cuchara Camps from Colorado, Texas and Kansas. The troops challenged each other to a race to the top of the mountain. The winner would be able to paint the initial of their home state on the best rock while the other troops would get less choice spots to paint their state’s initials.  According to legend, the Texas troop won and Kansas came in second place.  Colorado’s C perhaps didn’t get painted or something else happened because for a long time it was just K and T.  There are stories of folks being hung by their ankles by friends to get the letters painted. There is even an outline of the state of Texas directly above the T, but it is mostly gone with the years. In the early 60’s, I believe, a C appeared next to the K. It will often times get changed into an O for Oklahoma.  In the early 70’s it even got changed to a G for Georgia. I wonder who did that. 

The highest point on the KT hogback is a rock that is called, High Point or Shipwreck or Indian Head or…It has a much faded “S” painted on the bottom part of the rock.

To find this trailhead, head up Oak Street past the chapel and on up. There is a parking area for the Dike Trail. Park there, but the KT trail is NOT the Dike Trail.  The trailhead is about 50 ft or so on down the road from the Dike Trailhead with a sign.  There are arrow signs that help you find your way up the switchback-filled trail.  Near the top is a  sign pointing up to KT.  It is a series of steep, loose packed trails that will get you up to the top for the grand view of our valley.  If you choose, there is a very faint trail, marked with orange survey tape. That will take you to Umbrella rock in about a quarter of mile.  It is a really interesting rock formation, well worth the extra hike.  At Umbrella Rock, you are below the rock I call High Point.  It is often difficult to find the trail back to the KT trail, so be watchful.

Please, please don’t bring paint on this this, or any hike.  Over the years, there has been lots of graffiti added to the surrounding rocks, and it is just UGLY to see. 

If your family has other names of things, or more information about the history of KT, please let us know!

Lower Purgatory

Distance: 4 miles, roundtrip
Difficulty: Easy

An easy 4 mile (round trip) hike, mostly flat, with lots to see!. The trail follows the Purgatory river and has amazing wildflowers lining both sides of the river and the trail. We cross the river at several points and feet can get a little wet. The trail takes us through wonderful towering Aspen groves, Engleman Spruce forests and wildflower filled meadows that just seem to sparkle. There is a bridge to get over the river in case you don’t feel like crossing in the water or on a log or two. Some find it easier and a little more exciting to wade across the river instead! We have lunch in a meadow full of wildflowers, an old log cabin and a great view of the Culebra mountain range. Lots of water and wildflowers on this hike. Come join us!

Tyke Hike

Distance: Short Walk
Difficulty: Easy

The Tyke Hike is a short stroll in the Spring Creek picnic area for children up to 8 years old. It is intended to help children meet other children, learn a little about the natural world around them, and to get some good exercise. We do not travel very far, but we see lots of things. We eat lunch near Spring Creek, climb on some rocks, learn about the rocks we climb on, investigate critters that live in the creek, and meet new friends that could last a lifetime! Bring a lunch!