“A very challenging connection from the AF Academy to Pike National Forest.
— Brian Mihlbachler
Birding · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
Public access to the Air Force Academy's trails and trailheads varies and may be restricted due to the base's Force Protection conditions and other random security measures. Trail users are encouraged to recreate with a partner or in a group.
A run up the West Monument Creek Trail offers the most gradual climb into the Rampart Range from the Air Force Academy.
NOTE: This trail is about 4.5 miles long but mile 0.5 to about 1.5 is loose rock and sections of the trail disappearing due to washout and light use.
Parking is recommended at a small dirt pull-out on West Monument Creek Road, just east of the gated entrance to the Colorado Springs Utilities (CSU) water treatment facility. A short run on an unpaved road from the parking area leads to West Monument Creek and an intersection with the Falcon Trail
. Bearing southwest from a kiosk in a grassy meadow, the trail heads uphill to the Academy's boundary and onto the CSU facility. Signage along the paved roads direct visitors through the CSU facility and back to a singletrack trail on the Pike National Forest.
The trail can be hard to follow after the CSU facility. The next section of the trail is in very poor shape and can hardly been seen at times. Many times the trail is washed out so follow the washout area, and the trail should appear again giving you confidence you are on the right trail. Eventually you'll hit a utility road and this is the trail for a very long time. Most of the trail is this road. When the trail seems to disappear follow the dry creek bed; it's the trail but doesn't always appear so. Keep running if you are unsure and the trail should reappear in sections. This trail will drop you off on a utility road and you can take this road to Stanley Reservoir.
(9426') and the surrounding forest was burned by the June 2012 Waldo Canyon Fire, and the recovering areas are visible from the trail. East of Northfield Reservoir, TR 713 turns northward to Stanley Reservoir and TR 722. The connection with TR 722 provides a loop option back to the parking area via the Stanley Canyon Trail and Falcon Trail
Flora & Fauna
Birders occasionally see golden eagle, prairie falcon, and peregrine falcon soaring above the peaks and canyon.