Zip Lining Colorado Springs – How to Do It

How to Get Started Zip Lining Colorado Springs

Beginning as a way to transport goods and materials across rough terrain and rivers, ziplines quickly became a safer alternative for the workers, too. Nowadays, the sport has become more and more popular, with zip lines popping up in tourist areas all over the world. Zip lining is a great summer activity, a way to see awesome views of the surrounding area, and a thrilling ride for those looking for a rush of adrenaline.

What Is Zip Lining?

In zip lining, riders sit in a harness and hang under a long cable that starts higher on a slope and ends somewhere in the distance. You are connected to the cable via a pulley, whose wheels coast seamlessly along the cable, allowing you to fly through the air at awesome speeds, upwards of 40 miles per hour. 

Ziplines are often set up in forests or jungles, high in the trees. You may also find a zipline across a river or canyon or going down a mountain. In addition to a harness, zipliners must wear helmets. It is also suggested to wear pants and gloves to protect yourself from scratches by rogue branches. 

Image by AaronHM from Pixabay 

Why You Should Try Zip Lining

If you’re not already thrilled at the opportunity to fly through the air, there are plenty of other reasons to try ziplining. First, it’s a great way to experience nature. Ziplines often start at great heights – Broadmoor’s highest point is more than 500 feet in the air. You’ll get amazing views of the Front Range as you soar over the trees on this upside-down roller coaster. 


Next, zip lines immerse you in nature. These courses, which are among the best Colorado Springs attractions, include rope bridges, hikes, and rappels. While you’re on the zip line, you’ll get views of the forest canopy like you’ve never seen before. Colorado Springs has some amazing wildlife and scenery, and these zipline courses are unique and thrilling ways to experience that nature.

Is Zip Lining Safe?

All outdoor and adventure activities come with some risks, but zip lines in the United States are certified by an agency that notes a one-in-a-billion chance of one breaking. When properly constructed and run by trained professionals, ziplines are one of the safest ways for adrenaline seekers to get that rush.


The Broadmoor’s ziplines also have a minimum weight requirement of ninety pounds to make sure that riders can properly wear their safety equipment. All this is to say that a zipline course is an awesome family-friendly activity, and you can rest assured that ziplines are safe for kids.

Image by sebastian del val from Pixabay 

Zipline Courses in Colorado Springs

Now that you’re convinced to try it, let’s discuss the best zip line courses Colorado Springs has to offer. Between the Woods and Fins Courses, the Broadmoor property has eight zip lines of up to 1,800 feet in length and heights up to 500 feet.

The Woods Course

The first and more beginner-friendly course offered at Broadmoor for zip lining Colorado Springs, the Woods Course, travels over Midnight Falls and includes 5 zip lines ranging from 250 to 1500 feet long. The tallest starts 150 ft high in the air, and you’ll reach speeds upwards of 45 miles per hour. 

This thrilling course starts with two shorter zip lines to allow riders to get used to the experience. After a short walk, the third zip line takes you over a beautiful granite canyon and creek 150 feet down below. The fourth zip line leads riders to the top of Seven Falls, and the final 1,500-foot ride brings you back to the hiking trail. 

The Fins Course

If you want something a little more blood-pumping, the Fins Course is the way to go. This extreme ziplining adventure takes you to high altitudes, steep drops, and an experience in the Front Range like you’ve never had before. 

This half-day adventure has 5 zip lines of 250 to 1800 feet long and heights up to 500 feet. The course also involves two rope bridges, and a 180-foot assisted rappel. This awesome journey is definitely not for those who fear heights!

The course has two introductory zip lines, just like the Woods Course, before the third zipline takes you to Seven Falls Canyon and its rock fins. You’ll walk across two rope bridges and enjoy views of Colorado Springs before the fourth zipline takes you over the canyon to the south side of Mt. Cutler. Being 500 feet above the canyon road provides stunning view and an experience you’ll never forget. Finally, the last zip line leads back to the canyon, where you will rappel 180 feet down to the canyon floor.

The Combo Course

If you can’t choose between these awesome options, you’ll be relieved to know that you don’t have to! The Broadmoor’s combo course allows you to experience both the best zip lines in Colorado Springs. 

This four-hour day starts with the Woods Course, including the introductory zip lines and the awesome Midnight and Seven Falls rides, then all of the Fins Course, from the rope bridges to the thrilling ziplines to the assisted rappel. All in all, this exciting course has 8 zip lines and a 25-minute hike between the two courses. This great half-day adventure introduces you to the world of ziplining and provides other unique experiences in nature.

Photo by Anthony DELANOIX on Unsplash

When Is the Best Time to Go Ziplining In Colorado Springs?

If you are wondering when you can go zip lining here in Colorado Springs, Broadmoor’s courses are open year-round. While it is fun to go zip lining anytime, there are definitely better months and some weather tips to keep in mind. Summer is the best time for zip lining Colorado Springs. With the sunny, hot weather, the relief of wind and fast speeds will feel great. Spring and fall are also beautiful times to enjoy the weather from a zip line, and don’t forget about the gorgeous foliage you’ll see.

If you choose to go zip lining in the winter or colder weather, be aware of the temperature drops. On top of the mountains, it will be colder and windier. And with the ziplines propelling you to speeds greater than 40 miles per hour, you will want warm clothes and wind protection. Gloves and face protection are necessary for certain conditions to prevent frostbite. The only other risk is storms or lightning, which might result in closed courses until the bad weather passes.

Final Thoughts

Zip lining is an invigorating way to experience nature and see the stunning vistas of Colorado’s Front Range. This family-friendly activity is accessible from downtown, where you’ll have access to some of the best ziplines in Colorado. Simply make a reservation, dress well, and you’ll be all set. At Broadmoor, we include all the gear and instruction from trained guides. So all you need to do is show up and you’re sure to have a memorable time zip lining Colorado Springs – Enjoy!

Best Colorado Springs Activities for Families

Not many states call-in visitors from all over the world quite like Colorado does, and for good reason. Sitting at the Eastern foot of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado Springs is often ranked one of the best places to live and retire. Its residents are also known to be some of the happiest people in America. Maybe it’s the picturesque mountain views that are always accessible, or the neverending list of things to do outside that makes Colorado Springs one of the best destinations for families. 

Either way, whether you’re considering moving your family to the area, already live nearby, or just want to have an unforgettable summer vacation with your kids, we’ll help inspire your list of things to do in Colorado Springs.

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1: Explore Pike’s Peak

Pike’s Peak, dubbed “America’s Mountain,” is a National Historic Landmark and even claims to be the most visited mountain on the continent. We added this to our list of Colorado Springs activities for families not only for its fame but also for its easy access. Pike’s Peak is one of the only Fourteeners (mountains above 14,000 feet elevation) accessible by more than just foot. You can summit Pike’s Peak by hiking, biking, driving, or train. Additionally, Broadmoor Outfitters offers an exciting combination of two modes of transportation: ride up and bike down!

2: Cave of the Winds Mountain Park

Believed by the Apache to be home to the Great Spirit of the Wind, the Cave of the Winds cavern is a geological time capsule. The main cavern is around 4 to 7 million years old. However, there are no written records of the cave until two school-aged boys discovered it in the 1800s. This is one of the best Colorado Springs activities for families because the Cave of the Winds Mountain Park offers customized plans for your family’s day based on your group’s adventure level and how much time you have to explore.

While there are dozens of things to do at the Park, two main (and exhilarating!) tours explore the entire cave system. The Discovery Tour is 45 minutes and perfect for everyone in the family! The Haunted Lantern Tour is a little longer, 90 minutes, and is a thrilling, deep exploration into the mountain with only candles lighting the way. The Haunted Lantern tour is only suitable for children 8 years old and up. All tours fill up quickly, so be sure to reserve yours as soon as possible. 

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3: Broadmoor Hunt

This scavenger hunt activity is probably one of the most unique experiences on our list of things to do in Colorado Springs. It also happens to be located on the same property as some of the best lodging in Colorado Springs! The Broadmoor Hunt is perfect for families and large groups of up to 100 people. You’ll download the app on your phone to access the scavenger hunt’s challenges and explore every bit of the historical property around The Broadmoor. All the while taking photos, solving riddles, and even asking Broadmoor staff for tips! This is a highly interactive game-like activity that lasts about two hours.

4: Royal Gorge Suspension Bridge and Park

The Royal Gorge Bridge and Park is home to the tallest suspension bridge in the United States. What’s more, it also has Colorado’s #1 Bucket List Zipline, and the World’s Scariest Skycoaster. Visiting the park and walking across the tallest bridge in America is a must-do for adventurous families. This attraction is so thrilling. It also made it onto our list of Best winter activities for families in Colorado Springs. Assuming everyone in your family is ok with heights, this park has tons to offer the thrill-seeking family, from walking the bridge that hangs 1000 feet over the river to riding in aerial gondolas.

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5: U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Training Center

If you’re a family who likes to gather around the television to cheer on your favorite nations and athletes during the Olympic Games, you’ll not want to miss out on the opportunity to visit the Olympic Training Center. This is America’s hub for the country’s top-performing athletes and their coaches. This facility in Colorado Springs offers lodging, dining, training, and recreational facilities. It can accommodate 500 athletes and coaches. You’ll need a reservation to embark on one of the three tours offered at Bronze, Silver, and Gold tiers. Each tour offers varying levels of access to the facilities. For example, Bronze tours will show you around some major areas of interest, whereas the more expensive Gold tour will get you inside access to pools, basketball courts, and even the dining hall. On occasion, when their schedules allow, Olympic athletes offer exclusive tours.

6: Garden of the Gods Visitor and Nature Center

This is one of the top destinations and things to do in Colorado Springs. Picturesque views of sandstone rock formations and mountain passes make this Nature Center a must for your family-friendly activities! Among the activities offered with breathtaking views as the backdrop are hiking, canoeing, ziplining, and open-air Jeep rides. Additionally, there are indoor activities like museums and informational videos covering the stunning rock formations and towers. There’s something for everyone at Garden of the Gods. 

Conclusion: 

We’re hopeful this list offers you a starting point and inspiration for things for families to do in Colorado Springs. This is by no means an exhaustive list, as Colorado Springs has thousands of attractions, trails, and activities to explore. “Fun” could be a full-time job in this city, and we hope to be part of yours! 

Rock Climbing in Colorado Springs – Where to Go

Situated against the foothills of the Rocky Mountains lies the City of Colorado Springs. Just south of Denver, this city is a premier gateway to adventure, offering access to various activities and awe-inspiring landscapes. Of these activities, rock climbing in Colorado Springs is one of our favorites.

Colorado Springs has it all, from unique sandstone rock formations to glistening glaciated peaks. Rock climbing in Colorado Springs is an activity you do not want to miss! But with so many options, it can be hard to know where to go. To save you time, we have laid out a quick guide to Colorado Springs rock climbing locations to suit climbers of all skill levels.

Before heading to the crag, remember to review the rules and regulations for rock climbing in Colorado Springs. These include very important safety information and general rules for each park to make sure all climbers have a fun and safe adventure.

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A Quick Note

Climbing is inherently dangerous. However, it can be a safe, enjoyable, and memorable activity with the proper equipment and skills. If you have never climbed before, first try climbing in an indoor space or seek a guided tour. To learn more about rock climbing safety for outdoor climbing, check our rock climbing safety guide.

If you’re ready to try climbing outdoors and don’t have the necessary skill and equipment, try going with a guide! Broadmoor Outfitters offers several guided rock climbing tours in Colorado Springs to phenomenal climbing locations in the area. This is also an excellent option for those looking to transition from indoor climbing to outdoor climbing. Or for those who have never climbed before but would like to immerse themselves into new landscapes and exciting rock climbing experiences in Colorado Springs.

Beginner Rock Climbing in Colorado Springs

City Rock (Indoor Climbing Gym)

Location: 21 N Nevada Ave., Colorado Springs

Parking: There is metered parking on downtown streets and many parking garages nearby. See parking information here. 

Approach: Easy walk in town from street or garage parking.

City Rock offers fantastic indoor rock climbing in Colorado Springs. This gym includes bouldering, auto-belays, sport climbing, and top-roping for all ages and ability levels. In addition to the climbing, City Rock also features a yoga studio, fitness training, a kids’ area, and more. This is a great option for first-time climbers or those seeking an alternative activity due to inclement outdoor weather.

Intermediate Rock Climbing in Colorado Springs

Ute Valley Park – Excellent Bouldering Opportunity

Location: 1705 Vindicator Dr, Colorado Springs

Parking: A parking lot is available at the Ute Valley Park Entrance at the address listed above.

Approach: Per Mountain Project, it is best to access the boulders by following Mule Deer Drive past Pinon Valley Park and turning left onto Pinon Park Drive. Pinon Park deadends at a gate; park along the street and walk up the dirt road. After about 100m, you will be at the boulders.

Ute Valley Park is primarily comprised of bouldering – short climbs with hard movements. No ropes or belays for this style of climbing. However, having enough crash pads, a confident partner to spot you, and some practice falling will make this more enjoyable.

While this climbing style is safe and accessible to most, we rank this location as intermediate due to the difficulty of the “problems” (routes). These problems typically range from V1-V12, which can be challenging for beginners. In this scale, V0 is the easiest (or VB for ‘beginner’), and the routes get harder as the number increases towards V12. Therefore, this is an excellent place to improve your climbing strength or challenge yourself on a tricky problem.

Red Rock Canyon Open Space – Sport Climbing

Location: 3550 W High St., Colorado Springs

Parking: Designated parking areas on the right side of W. High St. – Exact directions on Mountain Project

Approach: Find the trailhead by turning south from US 24 at the only turnoff between 30th Street and the first Manitou Springs exit.

Red Rock Canyon Open Space offers accessible and friendly climbing to novice and expert alike. With 80+ routes from 4th class to 5.13, there is a route for everyone. This area is primarily sandstone climbing with face holds, offering holds and movement very similar to gym climbing. Most climbs are bolted sport routes with lowering and rappelling anchors. 

NOTE: A free permit is required before climbing and is obtainable online. Be sure to watch the video on the climbing permit page, as this includes very important rules and regulations for the area.

Photo by Mark McGregor on Unsplash

Advanced Colorado Springs Rock Climbing

Cheyenne Cañon Park – Primarily Sport with Crack and Trad Options

Location: 4682 Gold Camp Rd, Colorado Springs

Parking: Enter near the Starmore Discovery Center, drive along the road, and park at various pullouts. There is also parking at the Powell parking lot on Gold Camp Road – See Mountain Project for more directions.

Approach: Most approaches are short and accessible from the parking lot or pullouts.

Situated in a narrow canyon with beautiful views, this fantastic granite crag contains a mixture of climbing styles. The options include bouldering, trad, and sport routes of varying difficulties. Although primarily a sport climbing location, there are a handful of crack climbs and trad routes offering a place to learn crack climbing techniques and trad climbing skills. 

This rock is also known to be of varying quality, so be sure to assess your routes. Cheyenne Cañon is an excellent option for hot days as it tends to stay cooler in the canyon shade. If you happen to be around in the winter months, this area is also known for its Ice Climbing.

NOTE: A free permit is required before climbing and is obtainable online. Be sure to watch the video on the climbing permit page, as this includes very important rules and regulations for the area.

Garden of the Gods – Great Trad Climbing

Location:  180 N. 30th St., Colorado Springs

Parking: Parking is available in the Visitor Center lots

Approach: From the parking lot along well-marked and traveled paths. See Mountain Project for specific route information.

Garden of the Gods is the most well-known rock climbing area in Colorado Springs. This area comprises beautiful towering sandstone formations with picturesque snowy peaks in the background. This area is well protected, so obtaining a park permit and learning about rules and regulations is mandatory before entering. 

While there are some beginner routes, this area is best known for traditional “trad” climbing – often reserved for advanced climbers only. Trad climbing grades range from 5.3 to 5.12. Climbing in this area requires advanced rope system knowledge, gear placement techniques, crack climbing skills, and more. Many famous and historical “test pieces” are available to measure your skill. While mostly known for traditional climbing, this area also offers bouldering up to V8 and sport climbing up to 5.13.

Photo by Sean Benesh on Unsplash

Final Thoughts

No matter where you go or what style you choose, rock climbing in Colorado Springs will be an unforgettable experience. Whether you are testing your abilities, trying out a new sport, going on a guided climbing tour, or searching for the perfect view, Colorado Springs will meet your needs. Grab a friend or guide, be safe, and climb on!

Colorado Springs Trail Guide – Best Hiking Trails in Colorado Springs

The city and area surrounding Colorado Springs have gorgeous scenery and ample ways to enjoy the great outdoors, perhaps one of the best parts of Colorful Colorado. Whether you are looking for a quick walk or a long, tiring trek, there are plenty of hiking trails in Colorado Springs at every difficulty level. And for those just getting started, be sure to check out our guided hiking tours.

If you are looking for the absolute best trails in Colorado Springs, we have an in-depth review of our top 5 favorite hikes near Colorado Springs. You’ll also see them on this list along with many other excellent options for hikers of all abilities. This list is organized roughly by difficulty level, as determined based on reviews from fellow hikers, length, and elevation gain. So if you are wondering where to hike in Colorado Springs, look no further. 

Easy Hikes

Memorial Park Prospect Lake Loop Trail

Parking: 280 S Union Blvd, Colorado Springs, CO 80910 (Tons of parking available in the park along Memorial Dr)

Elevation Gain: 26 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 1.3 miles

Highlights:

  • Paved loop, very accessible for wheelchairs, strollers, etc.
  • Great views of mountains and scenic lake
  • Beach area and playground

Palmer Park Cheyenne and Grandview Trail Loop

Parking: Palmer Park Trail Cave Outlook, 3120 N Chelton Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80909

Elevation Gain: 183 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 1.8 miles

Highlights:

  • So much to see here including a botanical reserve, horse stables, canyons, ravines, bluffs, and more
  • Tons of wildlife: Palmer Park is popular among birdwatchers

Stratton Open Space The Chutes, Laveta, and Chamberlain Trail Loop

Parking: North Cheyenne Cañon Park & Stratton Open Space Trailhead, N Cheyenne Canyon Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 (on the right, just past the Starsmore Visitors Center)

Elevation Gain: 705 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 3.8 miles miles

Highlights:

  • Most popular hiking trail in Stratton Open Space
  • Excellent wildflowers and wildlife
  • Beautiful views of the Gold Camp Reservoirs

Garden of the Gods The Palmer, Buckskin-Charley, Niobrara, and Bretag Trail Loop

Parking: 3105 Gateway Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80904

Elevation Gain: 449 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 4.0 miles

Highlights:

  • Gorgeous views of the National Natural Landmark that is Garden of the Gods
  • Combines four popular trails around the park
  • Access to horseback riding, rock climbing, and biking trails
  • A Top 5 Pick! Learn More.

Ute Valley Park Ute Valley Park Trail

Parking: Ute Valley Trail Head, Ute Vly Trl, Colorado Springs, CO 80919

Elevation Gain: 488 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 4.3 miles

Highlights: 

  • Excellent views of Pikes Peak
  • Plenty of side trails to explore
Photo by Bailey Galindo on Unsplash

Moderate Hikes

North Cheyenne Cañon Park Mount Buckhorn Peak

Parking: Upper Gold Camp parking lot, 4415 Gold Camp Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Elevation Gain: 859 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 3.9 miles

Highlights:

  • Beautiful views along the way 
  • Boulders to climb at the summit (the tallest offers panoramic views)
  • A Top 5 Pick! Learn More.

North Cheyenne Cañon Park Seven Bridges Trail

Parking: Seven Bridges Trailhead, N Cheyenne Canyon Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 (right before Helen Hunt Falls)

Elevation Gain: 912 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 3.5 miles

Highlights:

  • Very popular trail due to its history and uniqueness
  • Meanders alongside a creek and crosses over via seven charming bridges
  • Close to Helen Hunt Falls and Silver Cascade Falls

Pike National Forest The Crags Trail

Parking: Crags/Devil’s Playground Trailhead, 615 Teller Co Rd 62, Divide, CO 80814

Elevation Gain: 820 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 4.8 miles

Highlights:

  • Awesome views of unique geological features
  • Well marked trail
  • Challenging, but a good introduction for beginner hikers
  • A Top 5 Pick! Learn More.

North Cheyenne Cañon Park Mount Muscoco Trail

Parking: Mount Cutler and Muscoco Trailhead, N Cheyenne Canyon Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906 (on the left, 1.5 miles past Starsmore Visitors Center)

Elevation Gain: 1,292 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 4.0 miles

Highlights:

  • Includes a fun scramble at the summit
  • Outstanding views of the surrounding mountains
  • Well marked and well maintained
  • A Top 5 Pick! Learn More.

North Slope Recreation Area North Catamount Reservoir Trail

Parking: Pikes Peak Toll Rd, Woodland Park, CO 80863 (just past the Crystal Reservoir Visitors Center)

Elevation Gain: 262 feet 

Round Trip Mileage: 2.7 miles

Highlights:

  • Short but steep (15% grade around the 1.5-mile marker), so you’ll get a good workout
  • Beautiful views of meadows and wildflowers along the way
Photo by Jonathan Chaves on Unsplash

Hard Hikes

Red Rock Canyon Open Space Sand Canyon, Mesa, Greenlee, Red Rock Canyon Loop

Parking: 3550 W High St, Colorado Springs, CO 80904

Elevation Gain: 882 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 5.4 miles

Highlights:

  • Varied terrain and interesting geology
  • Lots of sun as shade is limited
  • Good views without too difficult an elevation gain

Pike National Forest The Incline Trail

Parking: Barr Trailhead, 98 Hydro St, Manitou Springs, CO 80829

Elevation Gain: 1,978 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 4.0 miles

Highlights:

  • The most popular trail in the Pike National Forest
  • All the elevation is in the first mile – at the hardest point, it’s an extremely challenging 61% grade!

North Slope Recreation Area Limber Pine, Mule Deer, Mackinaw, and Ridge Trails Loop

Parking: Catamount Recreation Area, 3168 Co Rd 28, Woodland Park, CO 80863

Elevation Gain: 1,036 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 8.4 miles

Highlights:

  • Challenging trek around the North Catamount Reservoir with a bunch of elevation changes
  • At times follows the water, and at other times, you’ll be in the forest

North Cheyenne Cañon Park Columbine Trail

Parking: Starsmore Discovery Center, 2120 S Cheyenne Canyon Rd, Colorado Springs, CO 80906

Elevation Gain: 1,607 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 7.6 miles

Highlights:

  • Great views of the surrounding mountains
  • Plenty of wildlife (don’t forget to check out the Starsmore Discovery Center at the trailhead
  • Gradually inclining slope, no huge scrambles
  • A Top 5 Pick! Learn More.

Pike National Forest The DeCaLiBron: Mounts Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross Trail

Parking: Kite Lake Trailhead, Co Rd 8, Alma, CO 80420

Elevation Gain: 3,136 feet

Round Trip Mileage: 7.0 miles

Highlights:

  • Ability to summit three 14-ers, the highest being Mount Lincoln at 14,295’ (Note that Mount Bross is private property and illegal to summit)
  • Real right of passage for serious Colorado hikers

Final Thoughts

Before you hit one of these awesome hiking trails in Colorado Springs, be sure that you are well prepared for your trip. Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, and other essentials that we cover in how to pack for a day hike. Happy trails!

Bike Maintenance Basics – How to Clean Your Bike

When you think about hitting the trails with a mountain bike or e-bike, maintenance is never top of mind. However, bike maintenance is a very important part of any ride, and in fact, every ride. Skipping the bike maintenance basics not only leads to more wear and tear, but it can even be dangerous to you as the rider. 

That’s why we’re here to discuss bike maintenance basics to make sure you keep your gear in peak condition. It might seem hard, but taking a little time to learn how to clean your bike and how to complete a pre-ride inspection will save you a lot of hassle down the line. So let’s get to it.

Don’t want to worry about bike maintenance? Join our Cog Up/Bike Down Pikes Peak experience or a guided mountain bike tour in Colorado Springs to reap the benefits of our perfectly maintained bikes and expert guides. Or alternatively, utilize our bike rentals in Colorado Springs to use for your own adventure.

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How to Do a Pre-Ride Bike Inspection 

A quick check before each ride is essential bike maintenance to keep you safe and keep your bike functioning optimally. Many people call this the ABCs of bike maintenance. If you remember that, you’ll be able to keep track of these critical steps of the pre-ride inspection.

Air in the Tires 

Look closely at the sidewall of your bike tires, and you will find a range of recommended tire pressures (PSI). There are a lot of factors that go into deciding what pressure within this range you want. You can begin at a pressure in the middle of the specified range to start, and learn your preferred tire pressure by feel as you get more experience. But in short, a more inflated tire will have less resistance and allow you to go faster (best for road cyclists), while a less inflated tire will absorb more shock (best for trail riders) and achieve better grip (safest for riding in wet conditions).

While you are inflating your bike tires to the desired pressure, be sure to inspect the tires for damage or deformities, and make sure the quick release lever or thru-axle (depending on your bike) are securely tightened. Finally, don’t forget to bring your pump and tire repair kit or patch kit on the ride with you in case of emergencies.

Brake Check

Your bike’s manufacturer can tell you how often you need to replace your brake pads and rotors, but it is also important to use your own judgment and look for excessive wear. In addition to a visual check, be sure to spin the tires and apply the brake mechanisms. 

Here, you want to make sure they move smoothly, don’t get stuck anywhere, and clamp down strong on the tires. If you feel a hitch or resistance, you may need to lubricate the parts. These cables and assemblies need lubrication to function correctly, and that’s ongoing maintenance we’ll discuss in the post-ride section covering how to clean your bike.

Chain Inspection

Bike chains are one of the most important pieces on the entire bike, and unfortunately, they’re also one of the most fragile. Before every ride, you should turn the pedals slowly and examine every chain link. 

Check to make sure the bike chain is not dirty or rusted, that there is no gunk or other impediment, and that the chain moves smoothly. Also, check the gears and the drivetrain, making sure the bike shifts without a hitch. 

The Nuts and Bolts of Bike Maintenance Basics

The last thing to do pre-ride is to ensure that the bike’s many nuts and bolts are tight and secure. Especially with mountain biking, it is normal for these to loosen over time as you maneuver the bike over obstacles and force different stressors on it. 

With hex keys and a Torx wrench, a decent bike tool will allow you to tighten all these pieces and make sure your bike is ready for the next adventure. This multi-tool is a great piece to bring with you on the ride, too, in case something loosens mid-ride. Loosening parts are all potential sources of problems that you do not want to learn about while on the trail, so invest a few minutes pre-ride in this important bike inspection.

Photo by Anastasia Shuraeva from Pexels

How to Clean Your Bike Post-Ride

After every ride, it pays to give your bike a quick wash. Especially if you have been hitting trails on a mountain biking tour, you don’t want to leave your bike dirty. Over time, dirt and grime accumulate and impact the smooth functioning of the bike’s fragile mechanisms. It causes rust and leads pieces to break earlier than they would otherwise.

Rinse and Dry

So, one of the most critical bike maintenance basics is also the easiest. Using good old soap and water (or bike wash cleaner), carefully wipe down the bike frame, handlebars, seat post, and brake mechanisms. You want to be gentle with these sensitive pieces, so don’t use a pressure washer. 

It’s also harmful to get soap on the brake pads themselves. Instead, use rubbing alcohol or rotor cleaner to degrease the rotors and brake pads. As noted above, you do not want to leave the bike to air dry as that can cause rusting, so use clean rags to get the bike nice and dry. 

Degreasing

For the chain and drivetrain, you want to really get in there and clean out any debris and grease. Especially for mountain bikes, these parts can get very dirty quickly, and you will find debris stuck in hard-to-reach areas. Cleaning out these parts is essential bike maintenance for preventing your bike from wearing out too rapidly and also ensuring future rides will be smooth and safe. 

You can clean the drivetrain with a rag and degreaser if it is not too dirty, or use a toothbrush to scrub off built-up grime. A bike chain cleaner is a good investment for thoroughly cleaning your chain without making a mess. Be sure to go through a couple of full rotations of the chain and shift gears a couple of times to make sure no dirt or grease remains. You can then use a clean rag to wipe away any leftover muck and clean the degreaser from the bike.

Lubrication

Once your bike is clean and dry, it is time to apply lubrication. You should lubricate your bike after cleanings, anytime it starts to squeak, and after wet rides to prevent rust. Keeping all these parts well lubricated will ensure a smooth and safe ride and keep the bike from unnecessary wear and tear. Depending on how frequently you ride, you might end up doing this weekly or more, but it is an essential step of bike maintenance and well worth the effort. 

Lubricate the drivetrain, chain, brake cables, and assemblies. When you lubricate your bike, you really only need a few drops for each component. Give the lubrication a few minutes to soak in and work it around by turning the pedals and moving the mechanisms. Then, be sure to use a clean rag to wipe away the excess. After it has soaked in, wipe down the parts gently, so it is not dripping with lubricant. Overlubricating your bike can actually hurt it, as dirt and debris are attracted to and accumulate in the excess lubrication.

Storage

Now that we’ve covered how to clean your bike, you’re ready to store your bike until the next ride. You might not have considered it, but there are actually better and worse ways to store a bike. First, don’t store a bike outdoors where it will be exposed to the elements. This will increase rust and corrosion, not to mention the fading of the paint job and increased risk of theft! 

Regarding positioning, storing a bike by hanging it with hooks or a wall mount is the best way to keep your bike in peak condition. If you are storing your bike upright, be sure to put rugs under the wheels and make sure to keep the tires inflated. Otherwise, you could find the tires have bulged or cracked over long periods of disuse.

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Extra Notes for Electric Bike Maintenance Basics

On top of everything we’ve covered, e-bikes have some extra maintenance steps. Once you understand how electric bikes work, these extra maintenance requirements make sense since there are additional parts to consider. Specifically, we’re concerned about the e-bike’s battery and motor. 

E-Bike Battery Maintenance

Just like any battery, good maintenance procedures help extend the battery’s lifespan and optimize its capacity. First, top off your electric bike’s battery after every ride. It’s not good for batteries to sit empty for extended periods. However, it is equally bad for a battery to sit fully charged for too long as it puts excessive stress on the battery’s components. 

Therefore, if you don’t plan to ride for a while, put your electric bike’s battery in storage, so to speak, by unplugging the battery and hooking it up to a charge tender. Battery tenders allow batteries to naturally discharge and then recharge in a cycle. This keeps the battery in optimal condition no matter how long you leave it. 

E-Bike Component Maintenance

The other main consideration with e-bikes is the extra wear and tear on the drivetrains and chains. Because of this, it is important to clean, dry, and relubricate your electric bike more frequently than you would a non-electric model. 

When cleaning, be sure to avoid using high-pressure water to rinse off your e-bike. While the batteries and electrical components are sealed and waterproofed against rain, pressurized water can prove too much and cause damage. 

Final Thoughts

With a little investment in time spent cleaning and lubricating your bike, you can rest assured that it will last longer and give you a smooth, safe ride. If you struggle with any of these bike maintenance basics or feel like your bike is still not riding right, be sure to bring it to a bike repair shop for more expert repair. Also, if you are thinking about switching to an e-bike, check out e-bike guided tours in the Colorado Springs area. Finally, don’t forget that our bike rentals in Colorado Springs and mountain bike tours in CO Springs are both fantastic avenues to ride a clean and perfectly maintained bike. Happy riding!

How To Get In To Rock Climbing

As a fun and challenging all-body workout, it is no surprise that rock climbing is such a popular sport. With indoor gyms popping up in cities all over the country, you might be wondering how to get into rock climbing.

We will explore the different types of rock climbing that you can try as a beginner, whether you plan to climb indoors or outdoors, as well as the gear you will need to get started. With some of the best beginner rock climbing routes right here in Colorado Springs, outdoor climbing is a fun way to explore nature, get access to some beautiful views, and learn a new athletic skill.

Also, don’t forget that a Guided Rock Climbing Trip with Broadmoor can also be an excellent introduction to this exciting sport.

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Types of Rock Climbing

Top-Rope Climbing

There are two types of climbing that are suitable for beginners, top-rope climbing and bouldering. In top-rope, as the name suggests, a rope hangs down from above, and as you climb, a belayer takes in the excess slack to keep the rope taut in case you fall. In an indoor gym, ropes hang from anchors like large pulleys. If you climb outdoors, a guide or qualified friend will create an anchor system using ropes and trees or rocks. 

Top-rope climbing routes range in difficulty from 5.0 to 5.15d, with 5.10s and above using a, b, c, and d to further distinguish difficulty. Where a 5.10a is easier than a 5.10d. Based on strength and athleticism, beginner climbers can generally climb up to a 5.4 or 5.6 on their first go. Climbers who are tall or strong might get away with these higher routes upfront, but as you move into intermediate climbs, technique and precision become more important than brute force.

Bouldering

Bouldering is a rope-free experience, with climbs typically up to fifteen feet maximum. If you are at a gym, the bouldering area will be padded to keep you safe when you jump down or fall. Learning how to fall correctly (stay loose and bend your knees!) will keep you safe from injuries. I generally downclimb to protect my knees, but it’s still important to know how to fall safely. If you are climbing outdoors, crash pads are essential for rock climbing safety.

The bouldering rating system is different from top-rope. Bouldering routes go from V0 to V17, with V2 being the hardest I’ve seen first-timers accomplish. Not only are these ratings different from top-rope, but they also don’t translate easily. Some people are much better at the big, power moves that many bouldering problems have. Others are more skilled with finesse and balance – challenges that are also more common to top-rope. Top-rope climbs at indoor gyms also range from 30 to 60 feet, making them a lot more of a cardio workout than bouldering climbs.

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Advanced Climbing Options

For more advanced climbers, lead climbing, sport climbing, and trad climbing are fun options that you can look forward to after learning to climb. Once you know what type of climbing you are looking to start with, you can get out there and take the first step.

Getting Started with Rock Climbing

The Gear

Whether you decide to top-rope or boulder, you’ll need rock climbing shoes and a chalk bag. The shoes are crucial for proper technique and movement while the chalk keeps your hands dry and grip secure. Rock climbing shoes are meant to be snug; generally one size below the sneakers you wear. Keep in mind that climbing shoes should not be worn anywhere but for climbing. Their extra snug fit emphasizes this point and generally makes them uncomfortable to walk around in. Also, you will stretch out the shoes and ruin the grippy soles if you wear them for non-climbing activities. 

If you are top-rope climbing, you will also need a belaying harness to be properly tied in and secured to the rope. You can take a belay class to learn how to belay a partner, and then you can switch climbs with a friend. To belay, you’ll need a carabiner and a belay device. Many climbing companies sell beginner-friendly packages with harnesses and belay equipment together.

If you are climbing outdoors, you should always wear a helmet to protect your head in the event of a fall or a rock tumbling down from above you. It’s also common to be so focused on your climbing that you forget to look up and climb right into a rock sticking out of the wall. It has certainly happened to me! Other outdoor equipment involves crash pads for bouldering, as mentioned above, a first aid kit, sunscreen, and maybe fingerless gloves if it’s a cold day.

Indoor Rock Climbing

If you want to get started at a gym, most have classes on rock climbing basics. Most also have rental gear available, so you don’t need to buy everything up front before trying rock climbing. You can also head to the gym and start bouldering right away; no help needed. Watch other people do the routes and even ask for “beta” if you need advice on how to get up.

If you’re interested in trying top rope climbing but don’t yet have a belay partner – no need to worry! Many gyms have several auto-belays. These devices clip into your harness and function just like a human belayer, allowing you to test out top-rope climbing as a beginner.

You can easily search for local climbing gyms in your area online, or take a look at this gym directory on Mountain Project to find a place to visit.

Outdoor Rock Climbing

In order to get started with climbing outdoors, you need a guide or, as mentioned above, a qualified friend. The most surefire way to have a fun and safe adventure is with a guided rock climbing tour, which will take you rock climbing in Colorado Springs at a popular local spot. On a guided trip, you’ll learn climbing techniques and safety and have a chance to try different climbs. 

If you want to get into rock climbing via a more DIY style, you’ll need to find a friend who has the necessary gear and know-how to set up climbs. You’ll also want to research the different climbs available in your area to find the best sites for outdoor bouldering or top rope spots with anchor points.

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Rock Climbing Basics

The best way to learn how to rock climb is to get on a route and give it a try. It’s easier to learn rock climbing techniques once you experience the grips and movements. Rock climbing also involves using your forearms, wrists, and hands in ways that most people haven’t developed through other athletics, so it takes time to build these muscles.

My favorite advice for beginner rock climbers is to remember to use their legs and hips. Beginners often overuse their arms and tire quickly. Using all limbs available will help your endurance and give you a good leg workout. My general rule is to make sure I move my legs just as much as I move my arms. There are enough holds on a beginner indoor climbing route to climb a route almost like a ladder.

Similarly, if you find yourself in a tough spot, pivot your feet and move your hips. These small adjustments can get you more reach and flexibility to find that next hold. Keeping your hips closer to the wall also brings your center of gravity closer to minimize the strain on your arms.

Now that you know how to get into rock climbing, I hope you’ll give it a try! Even people who are nervous of heights can overcome this fear by learning belay safety or bouldering. Outdoor rock climbing is a truly unique way to experience nature, and the views from the top of a climb are like nothing else. Enjoy!

Paddleboarding Near Colorado Springs

There are so many bodies of water in Colorful Colorado. If you’re willing to make just a short drive, you can find many places to enjoy aquatic activities like stand up paddleboarding near Colorado Springs. Whether you’re renting a stand up paddleboard (SUP) or have your own, we’ve got some great places to explore – all within an hour’s drive of Colorado Springs.

This list has all the best reservoirs and lakes for paddleboarding in the heart of Colorado. It includes prices, availability, and what is best for beginners. We’ve also organized these spots by distance from Colorado Springs, and you’ll note that options for larger lakes tend to be outside of the city proper. 

But before we get into the top spots for paddleboarding in Colorado Springs, let’s make sure you know what you are doing! First, you can check out the comprehensive Beginner’s Guide to Stand Up Paddleboarding. This guide covers all the gear you need and some basic techniques for staying on the board. If you think you might need more help, consider a SUP Tour at a Colorado Springs lake for in-person instruction. These guided tours are an awesome way to ensure your first paddleboarding adventure will be a memorable experience.

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Prospect Lake

Located in Memorial Park (1605 E Pikes Peak Ave) in central Colorado Springs, Prospect Lake is a charming spot to spend an afternoon. The hiking trail around the lake is a flat and accessible 1.3-mile loop. The park also has other sports facilities, including tennis courts and a skatepark. 

Prospect Lake has a beach and a designated swimming area. No matter what activity you choose, you’ll have amazing views of Pikes Peak to enjoy. Daily use permits for access to the lake (non-motorized vehicles only) are available for $5. You can also rent a stand up paddleboard on-site if you do not have your own. 

More Prospect Lake Info

Quail Lake

Still within city limits, at 915 Cheyenne Mountain Blvd in Southwest Colorado Springs, Quail Lake Park is a gorgeous city oasis west of the Broadmoor World Arena. The park offers a one-mile hiking trail around the lake, a basketball court, a picnic area, and more. All this is available for just a $5 daily use fee.

Both Quail and Prospect Lake are relatively small bodies of water. This makes them great options for beginner paddleboarders or people who have limited time for their next excursion. If you’re looking for a more advanced paddleboard experience, keep reading. Just a short drive out of town you’ll find yourself at some beautiful larger lakes that are prime spots for seasoned paddleboarders.

More Quail Lake Info

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North and South Catamount Reservoirs

Located in the North Slope Recreation Area (on Pikes Peak Toll Road), the North and South Catamount Reservoirs are pristine bodies of water available for a $5 daily use permit. The areas have seasonal usage hours, so check online before heading up the mountain. There is limited parking available, so it’s good to reserve a free one-day parking pass for your visit.

The largest of the three, North Catamount Reservoir has over 210 acres of water for paddleboarders to explore. Positioned on the north side of Pikes Peak, as the name implies, the reservoir has amazing views of the beautiful scenery. With little nooks and crannies everywhere, this spot is a SUP adventurer’s dream. The South Catamount Reservoir is also available. However, the nearby Crystal Reservoir is closed to all aquatic activities for maintenance and repair work.

More Catamount Reservoir Info

Rampart Reservoir

This stunning reservoir is a beautiful place to enjoy aquatic sports like stand up paddleboarding near Colorado Springs. Rampart Reservoir also boasts over 500 surface acres of water. Located about half an hour from downtown Colorado Springs near Woodland Park in Pike National Forest, the Rampart Reservoir Trail is nearly fourteen miles around the lake, taking you up and over the many ridges that form its sides.

The reservoir is open from May to October. But be sure to double-check if it is currently open before you go. Once there, you’ll pay a $7 daily use fee to get into the reservoir. There is a boat launch for fishing, a picnic area, and toilets. The reservoir offers picture-perfect scenery for paddleboarders. You also have plenty of shoreline to enjoy a picnic or take a break from the water. 

More Rampart Reservoir Info

Monument Lake

Only a half-hour drive north of Colorado Springs, Monument Lake is a 30-acre reservoir tucked into the Sangre de Cristo Mountains. This gorgeous spot has clear water, awe-inspiring mountain views, and free access for paddleboarders and other water sport enthusiasts. 

For a longer stay here, the Monument Lake Resort is a beautiful hotel option that offers rentals of paddleboards, kayaks, canoes, fishing pontoons, and more. This is a great family-friendly spot with a small, calm body of water for beginners to safely try paddleboarding near Colorado Springs.

More Monument Lake Info

Palmer Lake

Just past Monument Lake, the Palmer Lake Regional Recreation Area is a 36-acre park nestled between nearby mountains and the town of Palmer Lake. At the parking area (199 County Line Road), you’ll find a playground, a pavilion, restrooms, and the trailhead to the New Santa Fe Regional Trail. 

The park has free entry, and paddleboarding here will give you great views of Ben Lomand Mountain and the surrounding area. Even if you just hang out on the shore, Palmer Lake is a cute community with plenty to see on a local walk. 

More Palmer Lake Info

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Lake Pueblo

Lake Pueblo State Park is just under an hour south of Colorado Springs. The park has over 10,000 acres of land, including a sprawling lake with over 4,600 surface acres of water. This lake is a great place for more advanced paddleboarders looking for interesting waterways to navigate. 

The visitors center (640 Pueblo Reservoir Road) offers parking, bathrooms, and a nearby jet ski rental. There are also hiking trailheads and campsites located around the corner, giving outdoor enthusiasts opportunities for a multi-day stay. Access to the park is available via an $8 daily use fee.

More Lake Pueblo Info

Paddleboarding Near Colorado Springs

So if you have been wondering where to paddleboard in Colorado Springs, be sure to check out some of these gorgeous spots. Colorado’s many lakes and mountains offer stunning landscapes to enjoy aquatic adventures, picturesque hikes, and other outdoor activities. If you need to rent gear or take a lesson, be sure to check out a SUP Tour at a local area lake for professional instruction and assistance with your first time. 

How Do Electric Bikes Work?

If you are interested in taking a biking trip but not sure you have the strength or endurance for a longer ride, e-bikes might be for you. In the past few years, electric bikes have become very popular among trail riders and commuters alike, and it is easy to see why. They have the power to assist riders on harder sections of a bike route while still leaving room for riders to get in a quality cardio workout. But how do electric bikes work? Let’s get into it. 

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The Mechanics of an Electric Bike

E-bikes differ from standard bicycles in two important ways: the battery and the motor. Powered by the batteries, electric bike motors provide pedal assistance, meaning that they work with you to deliver increased power and speed with your pedaling. They differ in this way from, say, a motorcycle, which is powered solely by the throttle and does not require an input of physical exertion.

The Battery

Strapped to the down tube of a bicycle’s frame, the battery is the main reason e-bikes are much heavier than traditional bicycles. They are generally easy to tell apart from other bikes because of this battery bank. The battery may also include a power button and an LED screen to show the battery’s charge. The battery is responsible for generating power for the bike, and its capacity will limit how fast you can accelerate and how long you can ride. 

Conveniently, electric bike batteries can be recharged with standard electric outlets, and most e-bike batteries last between thirty and seventy miles on a single charge. Unless you are a marathon cyclist, this will be enough capacity to get you through a day’s ride. Keep in mind that most e-bikes do not recharge the battery as you pedal or coast down a hill.

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The Motor

The e-bike motor is usually attached either to the back wheel’s cassette, encased in a hub, or to the chain ring where the pedal cranks are attached. The motor converts stored energy from the battery to kinetic energy and helps you turn the pedals via the crank rings. 

With an e-bike’s pedal assistance, you do not exert as much energy per cycle as with a standard bicycle. This difference can be felt most in the initial acceleration and on inclined ascents. Therefore, it makes e-bikes great for people with long commutes or tough trails. Beginners who are training their legs and lungs for harder rides also benefit enormously from e-bikes.

The Speed Sensor

One other important feature of an e-bike that you may not see is the speed sensor. Electric bikes are designed with a maximum speed to protect the user. This means that the motor will kick on, assist up to this speed, and then stop. Once you are there, you can coast at this speed and maintain it with pedal assistance, but you will not be able to achieve a higher speed unless you are going down a hill. The specific speed limit depends on the bike’s manufacturer and your state laws. But most e-bikes are limited to somewhere between twenty and thirty miles per hour.

The Benefits of an Electric Bike

Now that you know how e-bikes work by providing pedal assistance, you can better gauge if an electric bike is a good fit for your cycling interests. Even though it is counterintuitive, e-bikes can actually give you a better workout because you can ride more miles, climb steeper hills, and get over harder obstacles.

However, electric bikes are more expensive and heavier than traditional bikes, but you may find the pros outweigh the cons. There are many more factors to consider, which we already dive into in a different article. Be sure to check it out if you are asking yourself, are e-bikes worth it?

The Best Uses of an Electric Bike

Another essential consideration for cycling with an e-bike is whether you might want to ride without assistance. While it is possible to use an electric bike like a traditional bike (with the motor assistance turned off), it is not the most feasible option. Since e-bikes are bulkier and heavier due to the extra features, your ride will suffer if you try to use an e-bike without the pedal assist.

So when should you use an e-bike? There are tons of great reasons that people are turning to electric bicycles for daily use. One is commuting to work, where e-bikes give riders the opportunity to traverse longer distances in less time. A second is mountain biking. What’s more, biking in Colorado Springs is an especially good cause for trying out an electric bike.

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Biking in Colorado Springs

There are tons of beautiful and scenic trails in and near Colorado Springs. While many are accessible for hikers, longer trails are also available to cater to Colorado’s active mountain biking community. If you have ever wanted to try mountain biking, an electric bike is a great first step. 

Electric bikes provide pedal assistance so first-timers can enjoy longer trails without running out of energy. They also offer more stability since they are heavier and have a lower center of gravity than standard mountain bikes. This combination makes e-bikes ideal for beginner mountain bikers looking to explore Colorado Springs.

If this sounds like something you want to try, there are two ways you can hit the trails and enjoy a great day trip. First, e-bike rentals give you the space to experience an electric bike for yourself. You can explore nearby trails at your own pace and difficulty. Or you can ride through town and see if commuting with an e-bike is a good fit for you.

The second way to get on an electric bike is with guided e-bike tours. Join a professional guide on a tour around the Garden of the Gods Park, a stunning National Natural Landmark everyone should see. This gorgeous park has views of Pikes Peak, and the five-mile ride is perfectly suited for beginner cyclists. If you are looking to try out an electric bike, these are great opportunities to enjoy the beauty that Colorado Springs offers and better understand how e-bikes work.

Are Trekking Poles Worth It?

Are trekking poles worth it? As a hiking guide, I’m asked this question hundreds of times every single season I’m in the backcountry. It could be guests asking me before a trip if they should have hiking poles or strangers I meet on the trail who see that I’m a guide and want my opinion on the matter. But no matter the circumstances of the question or who is asking it, there is rarely a straightforward yes or no answer. There are several distinct pros and cons worth discussing to help you decide if trekking poles are worth it.

Therefore, let’s take a moment to go over these pros and cons to see where hiking poles shine on the trail and where they might be a hindrance, and I’ll finish with my own recommendation on the issue. Then, you should have all the information you need to decide if a new pair of hiking poles will make an appearance on your next hike, be it a guided hike in Colorado Springs or on your own.

Trekking Pole Benefits

Increased Stability

Trekking poles dramatically increase your overall stability on the trail. Uneven terrain, fatigue, and sneaky tree roots can all play a role in compromising your stability and cause you to lose your balance or even take a tumble while hiking. Trekking poles, however, can dramatically improve your overall stability by increasing the number of contact points you have on the ground from two – just your feet – to four. You can also use those two additional contact points to test water/snow depth, untrustworthy-looking rocks, or mud you might encounter on the trail. In fact, trekking poles are one of our “must-have” recommendations on our list of tips for hiking in muddy terrain.

By doubling your contact with the ground, hiking poles make it much easier to avoid losing your balance, and to recover more quickly if you do.

Support

In addition to upping your stability on the trail, trekking poles also offer the crucial benefit of providing support for your knees and hips. When used properly, they can transfer some of the burden of hiking to your arms and shoulders – allowing you to hike harder and farther without letting achy knees hold you back.

The benefit is especially pronounced when going downhill. The jarring impact of hiking down a steep trail – especially with a fully loaded backpack – can trash your knees in no time. But distributing part of that load to your arms can make a world of difference in your hiking experience. Let’s take a closer look at how your arms can suddenly play a larger role in your hiking.

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Let Your Arms Do Some Work

Your legs are working endlessly as you hike, but having your trekking polls in hand allows you to push down on the ground with your arms to propel yourself forward or upward (or lessen the impact of going downward). Therefore, you’re suddenly able to use your arm muscles to improve your forward movement and shepherd in the support we discussed earlier by taking some pressure off your knees and hips.

While your arms can absorb and mitigate that shock of going downhill – thus saving your knees – they can also fully join the hiking effort when going uphill. In this case, using trekking poles and your arms to push down on the ground will help you get a small but noticeable amount of power pushing you upward. Over the long run, during a strenuous or prolonged climb, this assistance can play a prominent role in your hiking endurance. You’ll also get an arm workout during what is predominantly a leg-only activity.

Trekking Pole Downsides

Now that we’ve covered the benefits, we must balance that information by including a few drawbacks that influence the question: are trekking poles worth it?

Additional Weight and Bulk

A common downside to trekking poles is that they add more bulk and yet another piece of gear to your hiking equipment. Hiking is already a gear-heavy enterprise, and adding even more to the mix can be hard to justify. Specifically, trekking poles need to be stashed in or on your pack when you’re not using them. In this scenario, they’re simply more weight you’re toting around and taking up valuable space in your pack.

Next, wielding trekking poles effectively has a learning curve, and they may feel like a handful when you first start using them. Let’s take a look at this drawback next.

They Can Be a Handful

For many hikers, the thought of no longer having your hands free and available for drinking, bracing on rocks, or adjusting your pack is borderline repulsive. Suddenly acclimating to having your hands engaged during your entire activity can feel strange and alien – and many people avoid using trekking poles for this reason.

This downside becomes especially pronounced on narrow or overgrown trails.

Increased Snag Risk

Using poles for balance and support on the trail may work like a charm on open terrain, but it can become a different story in overgrown areas. Thick shrubbery, bushes, and narrow trails are all a recipe for snagged trekking poles, which can quickly turn them into a hindrance. Very rocky terrain also holds the same dangers. Here, gaps between boulders or smaller rocks are the perfect trekking pole traps.

In all these cases, a snagged trekking pole can be anything from a minor annoyance to a more severe obstacle that upsets your balance.

As with many of our trekking pole downsides, this issue can be mitigated with experience and practice. But once again, that learning curve comes into play, and many hikers decide that trekking poles are not worth this effort.

My Recommendation

After years of working as a hiking and backpacking guide and seeing the full range of hikers, from trekking pole lovers to ardent refusers, I’ve developed the opinion that just about everyone can benefit from a hiking pole or two in most situations.

For the longest time, I was also highly skeptical of trekking poles even when I was carrying ridiculous pack loads as a guide. But a season in the famously rugged White Mountains of New Hampshire shattered that prejudice, and I now fully appreciate that the benefits of trekking poles far outweigh the downsides for the vast majority of circumstances. I now tell my guests, and about everyone who asks, that you can’t go wrong with at least one trekking pole.

A single pole bridges the divide between pros and cons where you still benefit from increased stability and support while mitigating the downsides by still having one hand free and not trying to learn how to wield two new hiking instruments at the same time. Once you’re comfortable with just one trekking pole, perhaps that’s the perfect balance for you or perhaps you’ll take the next step and use a pair. My recommendation here grows dramatically if you tend to suffer from sore knees or poor balance with hiking – you’ll be amazed by the added support! So, for many folks on the fence about trekking poles – just try one.

That said, there are certain situations where trekking poles may not be worth it. Bushwacking – hiking in dense vegetation off-trail – is a perfect example where hiking poles have the potential the get snagged and become a hindrance. Or if you’re a super lightweight hiker and can’t justify adding additional weight to your gear list.

Final Thoughts

So in the end, think about where you’re hiking and if trekking poles have a chance of making that hike easier. If the answer is yes, then I wholeheartedly recommend that you take the plunge and give them a try. If you’re hesitant, then just try a single pole to test the waters and find out if trekking poles are worth it to you. All you need to do now is find a trail, and our favorite hikes near Colorado Springs are a great place to start.

Happy hiking!

Where to See Wildflowers in Colorado Springs

Surrounding the cities of the Colorado foothills are mountain vistas erupting from long stretches of prairie. The sight in itself is astonishing, but it gets even better in the spring. When wildflowers come out to bloom and show their colors after a long winter tucked away, the mountains light up with a vibrance unseen since the year prior. 

Of course, it’s one of the best times of the year to get outside. This list of wildflower hikes in Colorado Springs is a start towards a longer journey of finding every last petal of every last flower and taking in its beauty. And the best part is that you don’t have to look far when seeking out where to see wildflowers in Colorado Springs. With a camera and identification book in hand, it’s time to set out on the trails and see what’s out there.

Garden of the Gods Park

Come springtime, Garden of the Gods has shoots of color popping up in every direction you look. It’s one of the best places to go throughout the entire year, so of course, it makes the list of where to see wildflowers in Colorado Springs. 

This region is perfect for day hiking in Colorado. There are guided walks throughout the day, and you can book hiking tours that will allow you to get a full experience and understanding of flora and fauna along the way. 

The Palmer, Buckskin-Charley, Niobrara, and Bretag Trail loop is an easy four-mile loop throughout the park where you can tour several of the park’s most outstanding features. If you want to get out for some outstanding sights but only have a couple of hours, this is one of the best picks.

Indian paintbrush covers the landscape here along with multiple varieties of wildflowers – such as Colorado blue columbine and bluebells – making it a diverse color scape that can impress anyone who passes through.

Red Rock Canyon Open Space

Located right on the limits of Colorado Springs, Red Rock Canyon Open Space offers another quick getaway to see some of the most spectacular wildflowers the area has to offer. It’s an easy place to get to and has miles of trails to offer. 

Any combination of the various trails can make a great loop to explore and see a variety of different sights like beautiful rock faces to climb and open fields that just recently lost their snow. You may spot some Arrowleaf balsamroot or Rocky Mountain bee plant amongst the Indian paintbrush and other delicate flowers.

Photo by Kevin Bree on Unsplash

North Cheyenne Cañon Park

Here’s another gem that sits so close to the city but makes you feel like you’ve driven hours to find wilderness. The North Cheyenne Cañon Park is a short ten-minute drive from the heart of Colorado Springs and has wildflowers aplenty to offer anyone who comes looking. 

This park is full of granite cliffs and waterfalls, providing a luscious environment for flowers to grow and thrive. The park is 1,000-feet deep in the granite canyon, following the creek the entire way. The water draws an array of birds and wildlife that makes this park unique. 

The Daniels Pass Trail system is a newer part of the park where you can go deep into the woods and find flowers that have stayed hidden for many years without trails to blaze the way. The Mount Muscoco and the Mount Cutler trails are also great options for getting a higher vantage point and seeing the landscape from a new perspective.

Pikes Peak

Pikes Peak may define the area surrounding Colorado Springs. It was what gold miners looked to when they first made their way west, and today it’s one of the most popular 14ers climbed in the state. Pikes Peak is an easy way to get up high and see wildflowers for miles on end as well as right in front of you on the trail. 

The Elk Park trail will take you along open meadows and a beautiful creek that provides an ample environment for wildflowers of all different types. As you move up the mountain, the flora changes with elevation, which can give you the chance to see an even wider variety of flowers on a single trail. 

Here you’ll find Columbia monkshood, Indian paintbrush, orange Agoseris, mountain bluebells, arctic yellow violet, darkthroat shooting star, and the list goes on. Be sure to bring a wildflower identification guide in order to find as many as possible because this is the spot to tick off a lot of boxes in the hunt to discover them all. 

This is likely the only trail where you’ll find a good amount of snow alongside the wildflowers. It can provide a stark contrast that is unlike many other regions in the area and draws visitors from all around.

Photo by Alexis Gethin on Unsplash

Ute Valley Park

Mere minutes north of downtown Colorado Springs is Ute Valley Park. This hidden gem is surrounded by humanity but can still make you feel as if you’ve left the city. All along the trails of this 538-acre park, you can find a blast of color from the many wildflowers in the area. 

Within the park, you’ll likely see some Mariposa lily blooms, prickly pear cacti, and faerie trumpets that are common in the area. While this park might not offer massive mountains to climb, it’s a fantastic representation of what the area is truly like – all within the city limits.