Big Johnson Reservoir

EASY 25 reviews

Big Johnson Reservoir is a 4.6 mile lightly trafficked out and back trail located near Colorado Springs, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is good for all skill levels. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from March until October.

4.6 miles
88 feet
Out & Back

kid friendly



nature trips

trail running



wild flowers


no shade

no dogs

3 days ago

A simple, flat hike through prairie grasslands with interpretive signs. Not challenging and not long, but enjoyable enough. I disagree with the folks who were dismissive of the trail. It was not overgrown, the grasshoppers were not an annoyance, and I find it hard to believe anyone with eyes could trip in a prairie dog hole. The reservoir hasn’t been drained., It’s simply dry due to drought conditions. The only thing I didn’t like was the large number of folks sitting in their cars at the trailhead smoking pot and playing with their phones. I felt a little uncomfortable leaving my car as it was obvious I would be away from it for a while.

8 months ago

The previous reviews, in my opinion, are way off the mark. This is a fascinating area, and the remaining public grasslands of North America are scarce, and that's even more reason to appreciate Blue Stem Prairie Open Space. The reservoir was dry (May 7), and Spring is just starting out there, but there is still plenty to see. Pronghorn, prairie dogs, prairie rattlesnakes (nice!), all sorts of birds, and the spring wildflowers are peaking another few weeks this place should blow out in color. And, of course, the views...enough said!

The hike itself is super easy with what amounts to a rolling landscape - the inclines are barely noticeable. You have to watch your step from time to time along the dirt/gravel/grassy path, but difficult terrain is not an issue here. I only saw one other person there (early Monday afternoon) and they didn't hike at all from what I saw. You are surrounded by traffic on Powers Blvd. to the east, but it's off in the distance from most of the hike, and I only saw one plane take off in the 2 hours I was there

I'm more worried about the folks who can't read the signs that say dogs aren't allowed, and then proceed to let their dogs poop all around the first part of the trail. And then you have the other person or persons who left a giant pile of cat food out there. I'm hoping it's not that irresponsible "Nip and Release" program for cats that operates all over the country.

In regards to the prairie dog plague - there is a sign that tells you it's present - it's not a concern to humans unless you get close enough to a prairie dog to kiss it (good luck with that!) or get bit by the fleas it carries (you shouldn't be near active dens). Transmission to humans is unlikely even if you are exposed - most people get it from rodents around their homes, not in wild areas. The word "plague" invokes an irrational fear in most people.

Do yourself a favor and visit this place before it gets too warm, or as it cools later in the year. It's the type of habitat you don't see often these days - give it a chance!

10 months ago

Not dog friendly. Plague found here in prairie dogs. Didn’t walk trail, went to Stratton instead.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

I do not recommend this trail. It is over grown with weeds and we were attacked by bugs the entire run. There were so many crickets flying around it felt like we were getting pelted with pebbles. There are many very large animal burrows that are hidden and you can step in them and hurt yourself. The reservoir has been drained as well.

Sunday, July 02, 2017

Reservoir has been drained :(

Sunday, January 15, 2017

No dogs allowed

Friday, August 19, 2016

The trail is a lonely prairie wilderness with great views of Pike's Peak and the Big Johnson Reservoir, an impressive body of water that's frustratingly far away from the actual trail for my taste. Traffic on Powers roars across a high ridge to the east, which disturbs the wilderness feeling and causes an awkward self-consciousness, as there are very few hikers. The park is near the airport and planes fly loudly overhead.

The trail is an out-and-back, not a loop. It's just shy of 4 miles. There's a slight incline, but otherwise easy. Despite being flanked by a major roadway, Blue Stem feels isolated and deserted, with neither shade nor shelter of any kind. There's generally only one or maybe two other cars at the trailhead, and often no one else. Because of rattlesnakes I am nervous to walk there alone.

In spring and early summer a profusion of wildflowers and cactus blossoms grow amongst the grasses. There's a super view of clouds and ever-changing sky. If others come to the park they are often photographers there for the birds and views.

The reservoir attracts Pelicans and the grassland has prairie dogs and antelope. I've often seen small groups of antelope fairly nearby, especially at the north and northwest where the trail doubles back.

Though it's technically inside the city of Colorado Springs and has some unpleasant urban features like the traffic and airport noise, Blue Stem is a true wilderness. I recommend bringing binoculars or a camera, water, a snake bite kit, a charged phone - just in case - and a friend.

Sunday, August 07, 2016

Nice walk as long as you stay on trail.

Sunday, July 17, 2016

Easy walk, saw a rattle snake and some owls.

trail running
Wednesday, June 01, 2016

This place is great for looking at birds, prairie dogs, and the occasional plane flying over. I was disappointed that the trail does not go all the way around the lake. It is 1.8 miles to the fence where you will turn around, my gps said 3.6 miles total.

Monday, May 09, 2016

Was a pretty easy hike. Saw two great horned owls which was an amazing sight. Other than that nothing too spectacular about this trail.

Saturday, May 02, 2015

It is a good starter trail, did not like that the trail did not go all the way around the lake.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

meh.....its OK. not sure why its fenced like property in California. lots of prairie dogs that will insult you as you walk.

trail running
Wednesday, March 26, 2014

If you love prairie dogs, this place is like heaven on earth. If you're not, it's pretty boring. It's great for running if you don't have any place better to go to.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Commonly known as the Big Johnson Reservoir. I've never completed the a circular trail-not actually sure the trail can be done as a loop. I've done it in and out. Be sure to bring enough water to make it back to the car! No shade anywhere. The reservoir is known as a destination for birders-a lot of shorebirds, gulls, bald eagles in part of the winter. My favorites are burrowing owls, which in turn means lots of prairie dogs. The lake level is quite low and completely fenced, which means those water birds are frustratingly far away. Rattlesnakes are common.

1 month ago

4 months ago

Monday, July 17, 2017

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Saturday, February 27, 2016

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Saturday, June 01, 2013

Sunday, April 04, 2010