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Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop

Southern Front Range, Colorado

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Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop

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  • On the way to the Garden of the Gods.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Forested trail.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Closing in on the Central Garden.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • View from Palmer Trail.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Another angle from Palmer Trail.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Full panorama of the Central Garden.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Entering the Central Garden.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Kissing Camels.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Southern formation.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Paved pathway around the Central Garden.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Looping down toward the Upper Central Garden Loop.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Climbers practicing on the smaller outcroppings.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Bird near the trail.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Northern Central Garden from Upper Central Garden Loop.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Cathedral Spires.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Kissing Camels from the south.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Pikes Peak (14,114 ft).- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Western Colorado Springs.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Plaque for Charles Elliott Perkins.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Gray Rock formation.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • South and North Gateway Rocks.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Flowers along the Gateway Trail.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
  • Garden of the Gods and Pikes Peak from the Gateway Trail.- Bretag Trail and Upper Central Garden Loop
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Interesting formations. Great views. City adventure.
Cons: 
Crowded.
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Region:
Southern Front Range, CO
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Net Elevation Gain: 
302.00 ft (92.05 m)
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
3.80 mi (6.12 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
6,665.00 ft (2,031.49 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Pro Contributor

Very few free city parks in the world, much less the United States, are as interesting or worth a visit than Garden of the Gods, and a hike around is definitely the best way to see it. A great varied loop to experience the most that the park has to offer involves taking the Bretag Trail around the northern rim of the main rock formations and then walking around the Upper Central Garden Loop for an up-close-and-personal view of the immense and intricate outcroppings. The Garden of the Gods was originally designated by the city of Colorado Springs in 1971 and continues to be a popular attraction for locals and tourists passing through alike. Where else in a major metro area can you find incredibly unique rock formations, views of one of the highest mountains in the United States, and a decent chance of spotting wildlife like Bighorn Sheep along with the many species of birds that live in the upper holes and gouges in the rock.

This loop can be started from the main parking area, but for those not wanting to fight for parking when there is nice weather it is recommended to just go ahead and park in the overflow lot by the Rock Ledge Ranch Historic Site. From there take the Gateway Trail toward the Central Garden; before crossing the road, turn right onto the Susan G Bretag Trail that stays in the forest just outside the main one-way loop for bikes, cars, and pedestrians around the Central Garden area. At the northern end of the loop is the main parking lot right next to the Central Garden, which is recommended if anyone in your group needs wheelchair access to the primary rock formations.

Continue around the northern side along the Palmer Trail, which climbs into the trees along some short balcony areas that provide the best views of the whole Garden of the Gods area where you can view all the rock formations at once. The trail drops down alongside the road, and you can cut into the Central Garden paved path where the Palmer Trail continues south. The whole paved path is worth exploring, but eventually you'll want to make your way to the Upper Central Garden Loop, which has some up-close views of a few of the Hogsback formations and a lovely view of Pikes Peak (14,114 feet) looming to the west (which is certainly worth a drive if you have the time and the season is right).

There are a few ways to get back to your car, the easiest of which is to go back through the Central Garden to the plaque that commemorates the donation of this area from the children of Charles Elliott Perkins to the city of Colorado Springs in 1909. Take the Gateway Trail along the road back to the historic site and visitor center, depending on where you parked.

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(6 within a 30 mile radius)

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