Stanley Canyon Trail is a 4.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Colorado Springs, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
This trail is only accessible if you or someone with you has a military ID or upon approval of military police at the guard post. Picture the "wall" of the side of a chocolate layer cake. Imagine making one knife cut down through that wall. Pull out your imaginary knife (so you won't get hurt) and gaze into the slit you've created. Now transfer this image to the front range of the Rocky Mountains, behind the Air Force Academy, near Colorado Springs. This is Stanley Canyon. Trail #707 leaves the trailhead parking lot on the west side of the Academy grounds and leads you UP the right (north) side of the canyon to the Stanley Canyon Reservoir about two miles away. In the first mile of the trail, you'll climb about 1200 ft. This is steep. The pathway is decomposed granite, except where it's solid granite. The solid sections are not long, but they can be tricky, especially if they're wet. As you climb, you'll reach platforms where you can rest and look back to the east toward the Academy and Colorado Springs. About half way along, you link up with the stream and parallel its course the rest of the way. The outstanding feature of this hike are the rock formations in the canyon walls; take plenty of time to observe them. After the first mile, you'll reach the top of the canyon. The path levels out, mostly, for the final trek up to the reservoir. This last section takes you through pine forests and aspen meadows. The reservoir is not large, but it is lovely. If you fish, it's worth taking your equipment; word is there are medium size rainbow trout in the lake.
We hiked up the trail to a point where it appeared to cross over the stream towards the south, but soon after that were not able to identify where the trail continued. This was right after the windiest days and a few tres had been blown over possibly obscuring the trail. The other option appeared to be straight up a granite rock face and this didn't seem to be feasible without ropes! Can anyone describe where the trail goes from the point where it crosses the stream?? I'd love to be able to reach the reservoir.
Great hike! A bit steep but flattens out at the top. Went in Nov and there were some icey bits. Some great views and the resovoir is worth the effort.
Challenging hike, but beautiful and well worth the effort.
Challenging trail that can be scary and dangerous at some points if you are not careful. We saw many people and a lot of dogs in this trail even with the rocky areas. Don't let this hold you down to try it, this is a great trail with beautiful views and "ends" in a nice reservoir where you can see people fishing or simply chilling in a hammock.
Half the trail is up hill with awesome views at the beginning and great rock walls and creek views after that. Once a 1.5 mile or so up hill you will have a very nice more flat hike towards the reservoir. At the reservoir area you can chill and enjoy the day, go back the same way or go out to other trails. We went back the same way for almost 5 miles total.
We saw families with kids, couples with dogs, young and not so young and everyone looks enjoying the hike.
We will definitely do it again and most likely going out to other trails.
Challenging when you are scared of heights, but great views, lovely creeks and waterfalls, and amazing fishing!
Initially pretty challenging, but once you get up into the meadows, it's an easy stroll. The views on the first half are pretty good.
This is a difficult hike. Civilians can hike it if the military police at the guard post permits you to walk to the trail head. I was told (by other hikers) that this trail can be very hot during the summer. I'd expect it be extremely dangerous in winter. You need to be able bodied and in reasonable shape. At times, you will have to scamper across the rocks. Dogs will find the hike difficult too. I saw several hikers, at times, carrying their dogs across the difficult sections. When ascending, the first half (up the mountain) is the hardest part with the 1/3 to 1/2 have being the most difficult. Descending will be more difficult than ascending. The last half of the hike is relatively flat with the scenery very similar to Mueller State Park. The lake views are gorgeous with plenty of fish. I saw at least three hikers carrying fly fishing poles. My 7 year old found the hike **extremely** difficult, but very rewarding. I had to "shadow" him or "guide" him constantly during the difficult sections. By the end of the hike, he understood the basics of climbing (facing the mountain, finding footholds/handholds, looking ahead, etc).
Additional note for civilians: The road to the trail head is ~50' from the the guard post. You can park your car in the medical center and then, with guard approval, walk the road to the trail head. Please be super nice/respectful to the guards.