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Stanley Canyon Trail

HARD 88 reviews
#6 of 126 trails in

Stanley Canyon Trail is a 4.1 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Colorado Springs, CO that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is accessible from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

4.1 miles 1433 feet Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

forest

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

Slicing Into the Front Range 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. Dogs and kids seem to love the lake. I've seen dogs on and off leash. Because of the rocky path, I put boots on the dog - forgot one time, resulting is several sliced pads.

hiking
8 days ago

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.

hiking
14 days ago

Nice challenge and beautiful scenery. A couple slippery sections that I wouldn't be comfortable doing with my kids, but I'd definitely do it again without kids. You'll need military ID.

19 days ago

22 days ago

First 1.25 miles are moderately vertical, then flattens out the rest of the way to the reservoir. Great 2.5 hour hike.

1 month ago

Awesome, tough climb with great views. Civilians get to add 1 mile to hike because the Air Force won't allow us up to the trail head. Doesn't matter though. I spent 4 years in the Marine Corps and definitely don't want to be like the Air Force. Go the extra mile.

hiking
1 month ago

hiking
1 month ago

Got past the North gate, but the guard would not let us pass the inner gate that leads to the trail because we did not have a military ID. Darn!!

hiking
2 months ago

Great hike! Beautiful views during the hike, and the reservoir was an amazing site! The water was a bit chilly, but we'll go back and swim/fish. Brought our pup along with us and she didn't have any problems. The first half of the hike was the hardest part with steep inclines and some slippery rocks. Altogether a great hike, our new favorite, and we will definitely go back!

We have DoD IDs but they were only checked at the initial gate. If you have a visitor's pass, you should be able to use the trail.

hiking
2 months ago

Challenging but the views are worth it. Must have DoD ID to hike this.

2 months ago

Beautiful trail when was able to hike it. But as of right now it is closed due to military usage
:( instead hiked the eagle trail

hiking
2 months ago

couldnt get on trail. why isnt it mentioned in the description that you have to be military!?!?!

this shouldnt even be on the list if its not public.

2 months ago

Challenging with beautiful views. Worth it.

2 months ago

It REALLY needs to be noted that this trail is accessible to military personnel ONLY. Wasted a lot of time driving over here just to get turned around.

2 months ago

Gorgeous hike. A fun adventure for our family.

backpacking
3 months ago

Fantastic; not exposed for the most part, plenty of interesting water crossings. My 6-yr old has completed this one twice. Recommend an early start as it gets a bit crowded in the early afternoon.

3 months ago

Beautiful out and back hike. A little difficult in spots but well worth the effort to get to the top.

3 months ago

I love this trail but you can not access it unless you have a friend with a military ID. I even called to verify this information to make sure. This trail is not accessible to civilians. They started going on about the Santa Fe trail which has absolutely no interest to me at all. Not being able to access Stanley Canyon is a real shame.

hiking
3 months ago

I always love to do this hike! I won't say it is easy, but it also isn't very hard. Very pretty scenary and worth the drive if you live far!

3 months ago

camping
3 months ago

@George Burns this trail is available to everyone. It is inside of the Air Force Academy grounds but anyone with a US ID can get on and drive to the trail parking lot