Red Rock Canyon fall hike photos

Red Rock Canyon fall hike photos

Photos taken at Red Rock Canyon Open Space in Colorado Springs, Nov 24, 2011.

Copyright (c) 2011, Sandra J. Loosemore. Photos are provided for personal viewing only; no other use is permitted without prior written consent.

The trailhead is on the south side of US 24 between Colorado Springs and Manitou Springs. Here's a shot looking westwards from the parking lot -- nice view of Pikes Peak from here.

These houses on the Manitou Springs side get a good view of the rock formations. Note people and dogs in the foreground -- the park was very busy on this warm Thanksgiving day.

I started off on the Contemplative Trail, which heads generally southwards among these red sandstone formations. I have to say it wasn't particularly "contemplative" with so many kids and dogs running about this area of the park.

In among the rock formations.

Climbing up to an overlook, there's a good view of Garden of the Gods to the north. The trail is not terribly steep, but it definitely does go uphill as you head south -- I very quickly warmed up and took off my jacket (temperature around 60 degrees on this day).

There's a trail intersection where the Contemplative Trail becomes the Roundup Trail, and starts climbing up to a mesa. Here's another view looking northwards at Garden of the Gods.

I was wondering what this white quartz boulder was doing here, when the bedrock all around is red sandstone. There's not much for scale in this photo, but the rock was a couple feet across.

On top of the mesa looking southwards. The foothills are where the Section 16 trail is. There's a connecting trail that hooks into the Intemann trail system around Manitou Springs as well.

Heading down off the mesa into the next drainage to the east, there are more red rock slabs exposed by erosion.

Another view of Garden of the Gods in the distance, beyond more rocks.

The trail climbs out of the drainage and back up on the mesa. Here's another view of the rock formations across the way, looking northeast.

Then back down the next canyon to the east. Section 16 area again visible in the background. I had to dodge a lot of mountain bikers on this narrow/twisty section of trail.

At the bottom, the twisty Roundup Trail turns into the broad Red Rock Canyon trail, which heads downhill to the north.

The sandstone ridge on the left side of the trail was the site of a quarry around 1900.

On the right side of the trail, trees manage to grow in a crack in the rock.

Another view of the quarry -- note the steps carved into the rock. They're very steep, but you can avoid them by taking a switchback up to the notch instead.

Looking east through the notch. This was once a massive operation, with a steam hoist, railroad line, etc -- all gone now. The sandstone was shipped all over for building material, but it turns out that it's so soft it doesn't weather well. Besides the quarry, another lasting legacy of past exploitation of this land is that there is an old landfill in the next canyon over. You can get more of a birds-eye view of this from my Section 16 hike photos.

Rather than continuing north on the Red Rock Canyon trail, I crossed through the notch to the parallel Greenlee trail and took that one instead, since there seemed to be fewer crowds that way. Here's a look back south on the Greenlee trail, about halfway between the quarry and the trailhead.

Back to civilization. From here the trail drops down off the mesa about a quarter mile to the parking lot. All told I think I walked about 3.5 miles on this hike. There are a lot more trails here, including the Section 16 connector, the mesa trail, a loop trail that circles around the ridge on the other side of the landfill, etc.

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