“A Little Hidden Gem in Colorado Springs” by The Travel Beat

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Not all hikes are created equal. Even in Colorado.

I hesitate to share this. If the word spreads, this hiking gem may no longer be a peaceful place to spend an afternoon. But I wouldn’t want you to miss out.

I don’t want to call the hiking trail a secret, because there is an actual trail head. But it may not be obvious to those who don’t know about St. Mary’s Falls.

St Mary’s Falls is one of my favorite hikes in Colorado Springs. Yet it took me almost four years to discover.

To get to the trail head, you have to walk about 2 miles along an old service road, past a deserted tunnel and a short hill. Maybe the reason that it took me several years to hear about this trail is because it is off the beaten path.

This past summer, I found out about St. Mary’s Falls and experienced it for the first time with someone who does not live in Colorado. I may have created high expectations.

On this perfect summer day with only a few wispy clouds in the deep blue sky, we only saw four other people. Four people in four hours. Seven if you include a dog and two guys sunbathing on a edge that sat about fifty yards off the trail.

Why Is This Hike Not Well-Known?

St. Mary
St. Mary’s Falls

Visitors to Colorado Springs are probably familiar with well-known hikes like Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak. Even before I lived here, I was well aware of those hiking trails. Although these are Colorado Springs “must-see and do” hikes, you might enjoy trails that have more beauty than tourists.

Since I moved to Colorado Springs, each summer I am on the hunt to find a new trail to hike.

Sure, you can travel outside of the Springs and discover hidden trails all over the mountains in Colorado. Since Colorado Springs is on the very edge of the Rockies and the flat plains, it is not as easy to find something local and less crowded.

St. Mary’s combines the right amount of beauty, seclusion, and challenge that makes it a well-rounded hike. Yet it is not advertised.

Cheyenne Canyon is a well-known place to hike and one of those most scenic places in Colorado Springs. Along your way to St. Mary’s, trails such as Seven Falls, Mt. Cutler, and Helen Hunt Falls (not the actress) may entice you to get out of the car.

Maybe people just never reach St. Mary’s. Even if you reach the parking lot at the top of the road, the Seven Bridges hike may lure you off the uninspiring, flat service road.

Keep going. You will get there eventually.

Why Hike St. Mary’s Falls?

Butterfly
Butterfly on Trail

One of the reasons I enjoy this hike is because of the little slices of nature you experience along the way.

Along this 3.2 mile hike you will catch glimpses of waterfalls, streams, far-reaching views, wildflowers, and butterflies. The only sounds you will hear are your laborious breath as you hike the second half of the trail and the quiet trickling of the streams.

The green plants combined with purple and yellow flowers attract butterflies who are not intimidated by humans’ presence.

As you move up the trail, keep your eyes on the lookout for the 33 waterfalls of three feet and more that have have been reported on this trail.

Not all hikes around Colorado Springs include these treats from nature.

Maybe you are not a “nature person.” Even if you are not interested in pretty butterflies and flowers, you will get a good workout. The last third of the trail can be quite strenuous. And the signs at the very end that indicate “.02 miles” and “500 feet” to the Falls were clearly not marked with any sort of accurate measuring device. They seem much longer.

Keep going. You will get there eventually.

I enjoyed the hike so much, I brought my family there in November. In the winter, the views along the trail are quite different Most of the waterfalls are frozen and ice covers the trail.  And obviously, the butterflies and flowers have long gone. Yet I still find beauty here. Maybe there is a reason the trail is named after a saint.

Find out for yourself.  But try not to tell too many people.

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