Cheyenne Mountain Hike

Cheyenne Mountain from the trailhead.

After a week of doing short hikes near our AirBnB in the Red Rock Canyon Open Space (a couple miles south of the Garden of the Gods) acclimating to the 6200′ elevation of Colorado Springs I did my first “big” hike to the top of Cheyenne Mountain.  Cheyenne Mountain is the big mountain just to the south of Colorado Springs. It is the home of Norad and, until 2018, you could not (legally) climb to the top. In 2018  the Cheyenne Mountain Park trail system was extended to allow access to the peak.

Map and altitude profile

According to the park trail maps this is a ~16.5 mile round trip hike with a 3200′ altitude gain.  The high point of 9,300′ is a rocky promontory on the east face of the mountain called Robbers Roost. It’s where I ate my lunch.

I got to the park after a short 20 minute drive  and was on the trail by 6:30. An early start is important as it is hitting 90 degrees in the afternoon now and afternoon thunderstorms are almost a given. I started the trail with 3 liters of water and was glad for each drop.

From the parking lot ($9 day fee) the Talon trail winds south and then west for 3.5 miles climbing slightly. The real ascent begins with the Dixon trail heading first west to catch the south rib of the mountain and then north to the top.  After 2.5 miles on the Dixon (6 miles into the hike) I reached the “No Horses/No Bikes” sign indicating things were about to get real.

“Difficult to extreme”. Uh Oh.
View of the mountain from the start of the Dixon Trail

For the next mile or so the trail is steep and rocky. Near the top are the remains of an old plane wreck (from the year after I was born!)

I split from the Dixon to take the Dragons Backbone trail. This “trail” (it really is an extended rock scramble) runs along the eastern top of the mountain and has all the great views of Colorado Springs (see map).

Survey marker I found at a high point on the Backbone
One of my first views from the Dragon’s Backbone

At the northern end of the Backbone is Robbers Roost, a rocky promontory that requires a 20′ scramble up a cleft in the rock face to reach the top. This is the highest point on the trail and where I had my lunch.

View from Robbers Roost looking north
View looking south
Me and almost due east behind me.

I left the top about 10:45 and headed down. I ran into my first hiker of the day about halfway down.  I was back at the trail head (completely out of water) by 1:00 PM beating the afternoon thunderstorms (with hail) by a good 2 hours! I wondered about those folks who were at least two hours behind me.

 

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