Before diving into six amazing Garden of the Gods hikes, it’s worth providing a little information about one of the most impressive geologic formations in the United States. Garden of the Gods Park in Colorado Springs, Colorado is owned and managed by the City of Colorado Springs. Every year, visitors from all 50 states and more than 60 countries discover the beauty and history of the nearly 1,400-acre Garden of the Gods Park. Garden of the Gods has been designated as a National Natural Landmark.
The Park is a unique biological melting pot where the grasslands of the Great Plains meet the pinon-juniper woodlands characteristic of the American Southwest. These grasslands and woodlands merge with the mountain forest of the 14,115-foot Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain. The 300 million years of geological history of the Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs reveal one of the most extensive pictures of earth history found anywhere in the United States. It is a true geological wonder.
Garden of the Gods Hikes
Several short to medium distance hiking trails – ranging from easy to moderate – provide excellent views of the Garden of the Gods and surrounding areas. Most trails on the east side are open to mountain biking and horseback riding. Rock climbing is also very popular.
There are 15 miles of trails in the park. The Perkins Central Garden Trail is the most popular hike (see the second hike listed below). Stop by the Visitor & Nature Center to pick up a free map with all of the hiking and biking trails or take one of their guided walks.
Garden of the Gods Loop Trail (3.7 miles)
This is the longest trail described in this article. Three primary trails combine to form a 3.7 mile loop. The Palmer Trail starts on the north side of the main parking area, and it wraps to the west and then south. After about a mile of hiking, a short 400-yard trail splits off to the Siamese Twins formation. Circle back to the main trail, and then you’ll cross the road and cut through the main park area’s southern section on the Buckskin Charlie Trail. When this reaches the other side of the paved road loop, cross again, this time heading for the Ute Trail. This loop basically circles all of the formations, so just keep them in the middle of you. You can bring your dog on the trail.
Central Garden Trail (1.5 miles)
The most popular trail in Garden of the Gods, the Perkins Central Garden Trail is an easy 1.5-mile (2.4km) loop through the main rock formations. This hike has less than a 30-foot rise total. It is wheelchair accessible and offers information on the area’s geologic history. The trail is named for Charles Perkins who purchased the area and kept it in its natural state.
Siamese Twins Trail (1 mile)
Another easy one-mile (1.7km) round trip hike, the Siamese Trail offers striking views of Pikes Peak – one of Colorado’s most iconic peaks – through two rock pillars. This trail is located in the southern portion of Garden of the Gods Park near the Balanced Rock Area.
Scotsman/Buckskin Charlie Trail (1.9 miles)
You can view the Central Garden from afar on this moderate loop trail. The trail circles on the southwest side of the major Garden of the Gods formations.
Ridge Trail (.5 miles)
This moderate half mile (1 km) loop is more secluded than the Perkins Trail. The trail will take you through the rock formations on their southeast flank and without the crowds.
Chamber/Bretag/Palmer Trail (3 miles)
This moderate three-mile (5km) loop trail circles almost the entire park, and takes just over an hour to walk. Highly recommended as it provides great views and few other people.
How the Formations Were Created
Sediment layers piled onto each other horizontally, then, as surrounding mountains pushed upward, the layers began to vertically shift.
The result is geologic history that is turned on its side for all to see. Evidence of ancient mountains, ancient seas, beaches, and sand dunes can all viewed in the rocks. Plus, plants, marine life, and even dinosaur fossils have been found here.
There’s a sheer fault in between the Tower of Babel – one of the area’s most impressive outcrops located near the Main Parking Lot – and Fountain Formation.
Best Time of Year to Visit
The best time to visit Colorado Springs and take on one of these Garden of the Gods hikes is from May to October when the weather is warmer. However, as you can see from the photos on this page, which were taken in late December, anytime of year can be superb!
Weather and Climate
Between the months of May and October, the average high temperatures range from 62 to 86°F (19 to 30°C), low temperatures range from 35 to 58°F (2 to 14°C), and precipitation ranges from 1 to 4 inches (28 to 102mm) each month.