Columbine Trail (Lower Trailhead) to Helen Hunt Falls (8 miles)
Finally, Tanya and I got together for a hike! It had been a while, and it was a small miracle that we managed to both be free Saturday of Memorial Day Weekend! We wanted to get in some mileage and knew it was still muddy in the ski towns, so we headed to the foothills near Colorado Springs and knocked off Columbine Trail.
Columbine Trail can be accessed in three places known as the lower, middle, and upper sections. We started at the lower trailhead as that afforded us an 8 mile hike to Helen Hunt Falls.
The trail (at the beginning) wasn’t well marked, so we started on what looked like a jeep road and slowly ascended toward a single-track trail. We found another hiking group on this busy Saturday and confirmed we were headed the right direction. We were! They explained we’d go up for a while and eventually cross a road.
We followed the creek and soon arrived at a road, though the trail appeared to go up to the left, not right across the road. We believed this was just another trailhead location, and confirmed once more with a nearby couple.
The gentleman explained the three sections of the trail and said the middle section is hot without water. He was right! We climbed up and down the granite trail beneath intense sun. We had to stop both coming and going in this section to give water to Vandal, a young Australian Shepherd with lots of energy, that stopped each time we reached the shade of a tree.
We were both surprised by the topography of the trail. We had expected to hike up through a canyon, by a creek to the waterfall, but the trail took us on the side of two ridges. We felt like we walked up, down, and around before we finally reached the waterfall which is a commercialized location. I love waterfalls, but this felt a little anti-climatic as many visitors simply drive up to the location.
It was, however, a nice place to have a snack before we retraced our steps to the lower trailhead. The hike, though hot, was nice as it offered lovely views of interesting rock formations. Being so close to town in Colorado Springs and Memorial Day weekend, the trail was busy, though not as crowded as we expected it to be. We hiked long stretches without seeing anyone. Overall, it was a great trail to hike a decent length with some elevation change early in the hiking season. ETB