William's Canyon Trail is a 5.8 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Manitou Springs, Colorado that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, and birding and is best used from February until November. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.
dogs on leash
The Secret Treasure of Manitou Springs. Williams Canyon is situated, fittingly enough, at the end of Canon Ave. in the northwest section of Manitou Springs. It extends approximately 3 miles due north. The trail parallels the stream to its source. What is now a bare trickle in early October was once powerful enough to carve this canyon deep through ancient layers of limestone, dolomite and sandstone, producing cliffs that rise 300 feet above the trail. In the spring, when the waters flow more abundantly, you'll attain a better sense of what this place might have been like long ago. What makes this canyon unique in the area now are the limestone walls exposed along the canyon's upper rim. Directions: Exit I-25 at Cimarron Ave (exit 141) and head west toward Manitou Springs on US Highway 24. Take the Manitou Ave. exit off 24 and drive through the "downtown" area to Canon Ave. Turn right and drive up the hill to the Highway 24 overpass. You'll find some parking space under the overpass. If it's full, you can park on the street and hike up - just be sure you park legally, not blocking someone's driveway. A permit is required to park near the trailhead.
Probably got about 2 miles in before I had to return to start point, due to approaching sunset. Lovely hike in any event. Was a windy January winter day but sunny with lingering snow and icy patches on trail. The canyon trail is remarkable for the cliffs that flank either side of the creek, rising upwards of 150 ft or more. Hiking the trail is to engage an open geological text with its variegated uplifts of sedimentary rock oven many millennia. While water flow was not extensive, a couple of small waterfalls were still making their presence known. While the canyon begins very narrow (15 ft in places), the deeper you go in, the wider it gets, up to 500 meters or so near the second waypoint (waterfall).
Like other reviewers, I encountered difficulties at times finding the trail's trace on the ground. A hint: about 100 meters before reaching the first waterfall, the trail leaves the creek bed on the right and moves up the side of the gorge. The reason for this becomes obvious if you otherwise come to the waterfall via the stream bed. The trail on the right is the way to go as it gets you up and over the rocks which pinch in your passage thru the falls, especially when it's covered in ice. Notably as the canyon widens, you start to encounter mature coniferous trees: fir, cedar, bristlecone pine all happy to make their home on the canyon'a floor. Very pretty.
Yesterday I hiked this trail for the first time since before the flood. It's really beaten up, but still really beautiful. Technically, you have to have a permit to park near the trail head. I did though and I didn't get a ticket. If you go up about a mile there's a sharp turn in the trail and a trespassing sign. The trail actually continues behind that sign, and that's where you can find the waterfall. I highly recommend it, especially if you're a local. Lots of history up there. I only encountered two people up there, and dogs can be left off the leash. Be prepared though, because of the damage you have to climb in a few spots. Also, I found mountain lion tracks, so be aware of that. I will definitely hike this again.
Views are very secluded and stunning, pikes peak and surrounding canyon walls can be seen. Trail is hard to follow though in some parts
The descriptions of the trail from AllTrails is pretty much spot on. With navigation cues based on terrain change. The waterfalls were flowing but the water level was extremely low due to the time of year. We made it to Rampart Road but instead of turning around we followed Rampart NE to another trail that cut the trail in half. The decent was pretty steep but there was a trail that looked heavily trafficked by goats and people. All around great views! Be sure to bring lunch and take in the scenery atop on Rampart Rd.
To access the trail, park on Canon Street legally and walk up the road. There is no parking at the "trailhead" or under the overpass. If you pass a unique looking stone house on the right, you have driven too far to park. The entrance to the trail is the Cave of the Winds exit. You have to hike up the canyon a little while before you reach the dirt path, which is in the left. Eventually the path crosses the stream and continues on the right. Follow the trail all the way up. It dead ends at the top of a waterfall and offers a nice view of the canyon. The only downsides of this hike are the pieces of metal trash along the way and the building that is going on above the canyon. This is a quiet place to hike and you will be far away from the mob of people in the popular trails.
Great hike, but three weeks later my legs are still itching from something... Look out for poison ivy, oak, sumac, who knows. It's been bad. Anyway, the canyon is the best part. The hike up the hill at the end doesn't give much of a view but it's still worth doing for a change of terrain and to escape the canyon for a minute.
Awesome hike. DO NOT go if there is rain in the forecast. It is the poster child for flash flood and search and rescue
Awesome hike. Maybe a little more than moderate just because of the technical parts. It is not off limits, sign a waiver at the Cave of the Winds. DO NOT park at the trailhead. $100 parking ticket today. My own fault though. And 100% DO NOT hike this canyon if there is rain in the forecast. This canyon is a perfect picture of flash flooding danger
The best trail
The track is closed. According to the signs hiking is not alloved. At a restaurant they said it's because of a fire last year. We turned around and went back.
This trailhead is easy to find, just head north on canyon avenue, find signs for flash flood warnings and walk down the one way street. Once you come to the end of it there will be old signs for cave of the winds. Follow those signs and you'll be on your way. We followed a dry creek bed for most of the way because the trail isn't well marked or easy to follow. It's probably closer to 6 miles total and takes longer than most 6 mile hikes because of the poor trail.
Overall, beautiful scenes and a couple of waterfalls along the way.