Pulpit Rock Park
Pulpit Rock Park is an amazing hike in Colorado Springs thanks to its unique history and stunning views. And because of this there, the traffic along the trails is not overly crowded. You can enjoy hiking to the top of Pulpit Rock or simply enjoy the surrounding park and open space nearby. At 6621 feet in elevation, Pulpit Rock Park is one of the highest altitude destinations to hike in Colorado Springs. It is easily seen when driving along I-25 when passing through Colorado Springs. Due to the park’s location being so close to Interstate 25, it’s a relatively easy drive no matter where you are traveling from in the state.
The formation known as Pulpit Rock is located within the 584-acre Austin Bluffs Open Space that is in the heart of the city. The U.S. Forest Services has ranked this open space as a unique landscape thanks to the distinct rock formations. There is archaeological evidence that Native Americans lived in the Austin Bluffs area as far back as 10,000 years. And many artifacts and stone tools have been discovered here. Visitors will enjoy hiking many of the small, unmarked trails leading up to the base of Pulpit Rock. The ascent is short and will only take a few minutes. The climb to the top is steep but worth it as it offers expansive views of the city, Pikes Peak, and the Rocky Mountain range.
Even though Pulpit Rock Park is open all year round, the best times to visit are in spring, summer, and fall. The snowy or icy weather during the winter can make many of the trails unsafe to climb. There is no fee to park or access the hiking trails, so you can escape the hustle and bustle of the city, without ever leaving it. If the main parking lot is full, there is free street parking available. Or you can park in the various lots available in the nearby strip mall business center. Many of the trails are unmarked but you can quickly identify the larger more trafficked trail that is a gradual climb up to the peak. You can start your hike with the Pulpit Rock Trail Loop, which is a 4.2-mile trail that is open all year round. It is a perfect hike for walking, climbing, running, and mountain biking. Or if you want to climb to the top of Pulpit Rock you can do so easily as it’s a relatively short hike. The out and back hike is about 1.2 miles but can be very rugged with an intense climb at the end. You should reach the top of Pulpit Rock in about 30-40 minutes depending on which side you choose to climb.
As you look to the west, you will see gorgeous views of Pikes Peak, as well as the length of the Rockies. The short summit to the top starts with a walkable path from the parking lot. And since this hike is mostly a local favorite, it’s not a super busy hike with lots of tourists. Instead, the hike features wildflowers and a variety of foliage, native plants, and cacti. There are also wildlife and birds including bears, deer, foxes, owls, hawks, and other ground animals. Also, keep your eyes out for any snakes during the warmer summer months.
Due to its mostly unobstructed view of the mountains, Pulpit Rock is absolutely stunning during the early morning and late evening hours. You can get up early for a morning hike and see the sunrise, or enjoy a late evening climb to watch the sunset.
Pulpit Rock Park is open all year-round, seven days a week but it is recommended to visit on a weekday, as it will be less busy. It is also dog friendly. The other trails within the park also welcome canine companions. Due to the rocky and steep terrain, dogs can hike many of the trails and make this climb. But it’s only recommended if your dog is in decent shape. Additionally, there are no public restrooms or Port-a-Potties available at Pulpit Rock Park. No benches or picnic areas within the park, so prepare before you visit. You might want to stop for a bathroom break and refuel with a snack before tackling this hike in Colorado Springs.
The only places to stop will be on some of the trails or at the top of Pulpit Rock itself.
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