In last week’s column, I wrote about the Colorado Parks and Wildlife announcement that 11 miles of new trails had opened in Fishers Peak State Park, near Trinidad.
Instead of just telling you what I found in a news release, I elected to go down there myself and visit the park, try out the trails and give you a firsthand report. It’s what I do.
Joined by Kevin “Wild” Westendorf, our goal was to hike to Osita Point, which is currently the highest point in the park that is open to the public. From the “First Look” trailhead, currently the sole trailhead in the park, we hiked about 800 feet to an intersection of the Goldenrod, Lower Lone Cub and Challenge Hill section of the Fishers Peak Trail. Electing to take the most direct route, we hiked up the steep, hiker-only, Challenge Hill trail. For about 1.5 miles, the trail, actually an old ranch road, climbs steeply, earning its “Challenge” moniker.
The end of the Challenge section is marked by a circular “hub” made up of large flat rocks. According to park manager Crystal Dreiling, this will be the future home of some interpretive signage. This is also the intersection of the east end of the Goldenrod Trail, the east end of the Upper Lone Cub Trail and the start of the Osita Ridge Section of the Fishers Peak Trail. The views from here, and all along the way up, are stunning, with Fishers Peak looming overhead to the east, and the Spanish Peaks and Trinidad Lake State Park to the west.
The Osita Ridge section is much easier than the Challenge section, with rolling dips and grades, and views of Fishers Peak as it looms larger and larger along the way. At about 3.9 miles, the trail bears left and becomes the Osita Point trail. The next quarter mile of trail climbs easily to Osita Point via a number of well-constructed stone steps. On our visit, about 10 days after the official opening of this trail, crews were still working, so while we were able to briefly visit the point, we did not linger so as to not become a hindrance. The trail forms a small loop at the point, and to be honest, the views were underwhelming, since they were blocked by trees. Nevertheless, you’ll want to go there anyway, if for no other reason than to say you did it.
We went back down the Osita Ridge section to the trail hub and then took the Upper Lone Cub Trail for the return leg of our trip. This trail winds its way down hill, past sandstone hoodoos that are reminiscent of what is found in Colorado Springs’ Pulpit Rock, Palmer and Ute Valley parks. At about 8 miles, the Upper Lone Cub Trail meets the Lower Lone Cub and the Poison Canyon Trails. The Poison Canyon Trail is designated for downhill cycling use only — no hikers — while the Lower Lone Cub Trail is designated for hikers — up and downhill — and for uphill only use by cyclists. We turned down the Lower Lone Cub Trail and at about 9.6 miles, we arrived at the first trail intersection with the Challenge section and Goldenrod trails. We turned left here and returned to the trailhead, for a total distance of about 9.82 miles. Due to time constraints, we did not hike the Goldenrod Trail, however I plan on doing it soon.
Things you need to know: The Goldenrod, Challenge and Osita Point trails are for hikers only. The Poison Canyon Trail is for downhill cycling only — no hikers. Cyclists can only go uphill on the Lower Lone Cub trail. The Osita Ridge section of the Fishers Peak Trail and the Upper Lone Cub trails are open to cyclists and hikers. The park is closed to equestrian use at this time, and dogs are not permitted anywhere. Motorized vehicles are also not permitted.
The park is open from sunrise to sundown, and entry fees do apply. There is no visitors center for purchasing a day pass, however an automated “Iron Ranger” is available at the trailhead to purchase a day pass with a credit card. There are two restroom facilities at the trailhead, but no water, so bring plenty . Cell phone service was pretty consistent on our visit.
There is more than 2,000 feet of ascent from the trailhead to Osita Point.
As of this writing, only the Challenge and First Look trails were on the COTREX app, however printed maps with all the trails were available at trailhead kiosk.
To Get There: Take I-25 south to exit 11, just past Trinidad. Cross back over I-25 to the east side of the highway and then turn right on the frontage road. Follow it a short distance to the marked entrance for the park.