Thursday, May 31, 2012

First impressions (and a face plant): Waldo Canyon Trail

UPDATE 6-25-2012:  A fire started in the area of this trail on Saturday afternoon 6/23.  From what I understand now, much, if not all, of this beautiful trail has burned.  Very sad..  I'm so glad I had the opportunity to run this 4 or 5 times before this weekend...  anyway, these pics serve as more of a memorial now... hope you enjoy them.  Also, if/when the trail reopens, you know I'll be out there and update with new pics. 

5/31/12-So yesterday I finally decided to run Waldo Canyon Trail, instead of my usual Manitou Incline/Barr Trail.  I don't know why I haven't done this one, as I've heard great things about it.  Perhaps I was a little intimidated by the climbing, and the 7 mile length.  So glad I finally did! I've driven past the trail head for this one many times, and it gets quite popular in the afternoons on the weekends, and now I know why.

Right away after a few switch backs the trail carries you out to a point that sticks out over the highway in the pass.  I look up at this point all the time, so it was so cool to finally be up top.  Amazing the mixture of quartz, granite and sandstone...  really cool.

Here is another look up the pass from the lookout

To get to the loop portion of the trail it is about 1.7 mi of rolling trail that runs along some ridges and down through the trees.... some really pretty (and tight) single-track.   Loved seeing all the yucca's and other flowers in bloom.

At the beginning of the ~ 3.5 mi "loop" portion, there is a very cool bench (Eagle scout project), and a well marked sign noting the loop.  I went clockwise around to hit some of the steeper stuff going up, versus down.

I had read the info on the trail markings before hand, because I was paranoid about missing a turn and ending up somewhere in Utah...  but fortunately the trail is very well marked.  After starting the loop I knew I would cross over the stream 5 times (stream is relative as not all of it had water right now).  After the 5th crossing was the switchback on the trail that I was worried I might miss... as you can see below, not hard to miss :-)

From this point the trail continues to climb to reach the high point about halfway through the loop.  Overall the trail gains just over 1,000 ft.. starting at just over 7,000 ft and reaching close to 8,100 ft at the top. What I really liked about this portion is when the trail really opened up to great views of Pikes Peak..

More cool single track

Cruising in front of Pikes Peak

Love the different colors of dirt and rock along the trail

Finally, the downhill portion of the trail begins..... my favorite part of course..   Here's the best part... I was cruising along and thinking "wow.... I love this trail... it is so awesome... it's beautiful... I'm just gliding on down the trail.... it doesn't get any better than this...."    and of course, those of you that run trails knows exactly what happened next!   Yep...   see this pic below?  I took it after the header I took....    yep, see that root in the trail...  just exploded out of the ground and grabbed my foot... I know it wasn't there before hand!

So.. after it grabbed me, I tried to recover, but it never happened.  At least I'm learning a lot about trail running, and I am getting better at precisely knowing how much time I dedicate to recovering from a trip, and when to give it up and switch to damage control.   Realizing I couldn't save it, I tucked my shoulder down and ended up rolling into a thicket of small trees/bushes off to the right...  I feel bad because I snapped one off pretty good... anyway, next thing I knew, I was laid out... looking up through the cool green leaves..   took the required 30-45 sec systems check of my body (old guys like me understand this), and once I realized I was just scraped up and nothing more... got up to brush myself off.  Ended up with some good scrapes on my face, arms, knee etc.... but nothing long lasting...    oh, and I did manage to lose another pair of $2 sunglasses.... if anyone is out on the trail, look around this broken bush below... you might score a pair!

The spot I decided to take a little "rest".. note broken branch :-(

After this little adventure, I continued on the downhill portion, following the switchbacks to the end point of the loop.  The really cool part about this section is all the different rocks you run into...   one section was all lime stone... very cool looking, but a little slippery... that changed over to the more traditional red dirt and sandstone stuff... which was equally cool.   Finally, I got back to the trail heading back down to the parking lot... I had read that going back seems a lot longer than when I ran in that 1.7 mi... and it was true... I kept thinking I was getting closer :-)

Anyway....  I will absolutely be back on this 7 miler soon and often.  I plan to run the inside loop twice to get my mileage up over 10 miles...   should be a great time. 

If you want more info or details on the trail, click here

Oh.. and don't forget about the Nuun and Clif Shot Bloks giveaway!  Click here to enter before Saturday!

Happy trails!



  1. Oh how fun you ran Waldo Canyon! I ran that a few times back in the mid 80s when I lived in the day I must get back there and do it again, I tend to do the Incline whenever I venture down there but there's so much more!

    I hate those rock and roots that just decide to grab your foot while running. They do that all the dumb time! :)

    Great day for an adventure, so fun you got to try something new to explore!

    btw, are you doing Garden of the Gods 10-miler next weekend? I'm half thinking of doing it, just to get in a good hill run....but it'd be super slow!

  2. speaking of running in the best great pics. and yeah, i totally believe that the root sprouted out and grabbed your foot. :). hope you're ok...


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