Recently at Ute Valley Park, we ran into people asking for directions three times.
“We always get lost here!” remarked one woman alongside her partner. She smiled, as if accepting this park on Colorado Springs’ north side. As if knowing that, yet again, she would find her way back to the parking lot.
If not a devoted regular here, that’s the required trust. Trails weave in a nonsensical maze, some built by professionals and many more carved by visitors and erosion.
It’s almost a lost cause trying to provide directions in this space. Because this space is limited, and also because rogue trail creation is so rampant that by the time you read this another path may have formed to throw you off. Rest assured you won’t be alone, with the park super popular among mountain bikers and joggers.
We’re hoping to keep it simple with this entry, the destination being one of the park’s little wonders: a natural arch close to the trailhead off Vindicator Drive.
Start on the wide path running straight past the park map, which bears little resemblance to what’s actually on the ground. We stayed straight at the first “Y” by a pine tree, slightly descending to another “Y,” where we found two unmarked posts. Veer left uphill, noting your surroundings: a canyon wall defines one direction, a grassy hill the other, with your trailhead on the other side of it. Keep in mind: mountains to the west, parking lot to the northeast.
We found the path to stay mostly clear amid colorful rocks. Downed logs helped point the way. This slice of the park is a great glimpse at the variety abroad: forests, meadows and bluffs and hoodoos.
If you follow correctly, you’ll come to the sandstone “keyhole;” our mile tracker read 0.7 when we came to it. Through the gap, there are plenty of options to make a loop back to the trailhead, but we’ll leave the report here, letting you decide on the rest of the adventure.
Trip log: 1.4 miles (out and back), 321 feet elevation gain
Getting there: Trailhead at 1705 Vindicator Drive
FYI: Park hours 5 a.m.-9 p.m. Nov. 1-April 30; 5 a.m.-10 p.m. May 1-Oct. 31. Hiking, cycling, horseback riding. Dogs on leash.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE
This content was originally published here.