Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
?
Trail type
Loop
Distance
3.80 mi (6.12 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

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.

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

Not Required

Pros

Interesting formations. Great views. City adventure.

Cons

Crowded.

Trailhead Elevation

6,665.00 ft (2,031.49 m)

Net Elevation Gain

302.00 ft (92.05 m)

Features

Historically significant
Rock climbing
Bird watching
Wildlife
Big vistas
Wildflowers
Geologically significant

Location

Field Guide

Comments

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