Once upon a time, someone told us that the hike to Pulpit Rock in Austin Bluffs Open Space would be easier for kids when entering from the east side, parking in the University Village neighborhood, so we packed up the family (then two toddlers and a baby, as I recall) and set off on a Sunday afternoon.
Well. We walked and walked and yes, the trail was easy, but we as we walked we realized that really, this was not going to be a quick hike to get to the top of Pulpit Rock. The part we were on was easy, but we walked and walked for what seemed like forever (remember, we were hiking with toddlers) and saw that the hardest part was still quite a ways in front of us.
So, we gave up. Turned around and quit. Not a good way to end a hike!
It took us a few years, but we finally made it back to Pulpit Rock Park, and this time, we made it to the top! Here’s some pictures from our hike – which we started at the right spot this time, the parking lot on north Nevada.
The trail is nice and wide, but this main trail doesn’t actually go up to the bluff – you’ll need to turn off and take one of the narrower trails to get to the top.
This is where we turned off – just a little ways past the yellow fire hydrant that was on the main trail. It’s not marked, but isn’t hard to find. There were a couple of small trail turnoffs like this, and it appeared that all of them joined up and went up the bluff.
We were there in mid-June, and there were still a lot of beautiful wildflowers! I’m sure there would have been even more a week or two earlier. Definitely the most varieties of wildflowers I’ve seen in one place.
There are also lots of cacti, so be careful if you step off the trail. :)
Once you get close to the top, the trail gets steep, with some loose rock. Nothing too major, but small children will need help.
When you get most of the way up, there are several different ways you could get to the top – no “official” trail necessarily, but there are several paths. We chose the least steep way (to the left/east-ish).
We made it! It was just me, Jeremy, and baby #5 – I think our other kids could have made it, but younger kids (maybe six and younger) probably need a 1:1 adult/child ratio, especially going down with the loose rock. And, though it looks large from the interstate, the space on top of the bluff really isn’t that big. There are some very sheer dropoffs so the top wouldn’t be a great place to relax and let your kids run loose.
There are incredible nearly 360º views once you get to the top of the bluff – perhaps some of the best in-town views of Colorado Springs you can get! It was very cool to hear the sound of the wind in the pines on one side, and the noise of Interstate 25 traffic on the other.
We spent a few minutes at the top looking at the view and taking pictures, and in total, it took us about one hour from the North Nevada parking lot, to the top, and back. Oh, and I somehow neglected to mention that I had to stop a few times along the way and catch my breath. Something about not having been in shape in years and carrying a baby seemed to affect me!
This is a great in-town hike that’s not too long, not too short; and has amazing views! Next time we have guests in town that want to go hiking, this will definitely be on the list.
There aren’t any great maps of this park/hike – none that we’ve found show the actual trails to the top, but it’s pretty easy to follow the trail. The parking lot is on North Nevada Avenue, just north of Luisa Graf Jewelers. There is some Colorado Springs Utilities stuff in this same parking lot; that may be a little easier to spot than the Pulpit Rock sign.