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Stanley Canyon Trail

HARD 274 reviews
#10 of 191 trails in

Stanley Canyon Trail is a 5.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Colorado Springs, Colorado that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from May until October. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

5.8 miles
1,702 feet
Out & Back

dogs on leash


nature trips

trail running


bird watching



wild flowers




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.

26 days ago

Great hike! Had to turn back 3/4 of the way up the ravine/mountain due to a river of ice. I had micro spikes, but this was serious ice with too much vertical for my skill level. Not a great trail for dogs unless they have tough trail pads. Still worth the trip!

6 months ago

The first half of this trail is the hard part. Your reward is a nice easy walk through a beautiful meadow as you finish the hike.

6 months ago

Beautiful hike,
still challenging since 1992! Less trafficked than in the past.
Beware of loose gravel during the accent and decent. Take lots of water! Amazing beauty! Take your time and enjoy. The reservoir is empty, yet still beautiful.

6 months ago

Really nice hike. Good mix of bouldering and forest. Will do again.

8 months ago

This used to be one of my favorite hikes in the C Springs area. But now they have drained the reservoir. I called and spoke with Natural Resources office at the AFA and there are no plans to fix the dam and refill it. He said it was decided it was too expensive. So sad.

8 months ago

Good hike but sad there is no reservoir.

8 months ago

If you want pictures, take them about halfway up because the reservoir is drained and there is literally zero incentive to hike this

9 months ago

Easy access from the USAFA parking lot. Drive to the upper lot to save a little time. The first half is a steady uphill grade with a few areas of loose gravel but not very difficult. There is a stream along the way for a good bit of the hike. The last half is nice soft pretty flat terrain welcome after the first half. The hail, lightning and rain made it even more challenging! No water in the reservoir as of June 22 2018.

9 months ago

Do this weekly. Great replacement for the incline as the crowds have ruined that one. Enjoy the canyon, it’s quite beautiful.

10 months ago

Great trail. One of the more difficult trails I’ve been on simply because of the loose rock that covers a lot of the ascent. The views were absolutely stunning though and worth every bit of the hike.

11 months ago

A very strenuous hike for most of the way but beautiful scenery along the way. The reservoir was dried when we went but it was still worth the views. Lots of scrambling on the rocks and some really slick areas so be careful.

11 months ago

Pretty hike up the canyon with good views, would rate as moderate. Sad the reservoir was empty though, not much to see at the top.

11 months ago

Great trail, very steep!

Wednesday, March 07, 2018

One of my favorite trails. There's a good climb, then a nice stroll through aspen trees. It's definitely a repeater trail.

Friday, February 02, 2018

loved this hike - did it last weekend and it was pretty tough towards the top. the river is frozen but we managed to make it up carefully and did some butt sliding on the way down. still beautiful and challenging.

are they ever going to refill the reservoir?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

I love Stanley Canyon, never disappoints. This time however, the reservoir was dried up and I was so sad, but it was so worth the hike. Beautiful, tough, great workout!

trail running
Thursday, December 21, 2017

Great hike, but if you are planning to hike it between now (December) and around April the waterfall is frozen over, and impassable. You can still make it about 1.8 miles in and 1000 ft elevation gain. Beautiful views, even if you can’t reach the reservoir.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

S suchixiyu

Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Gorgeous! You have to go on base to access this trail. Some parts get a little confusing and they should mark them better. The views from the top are so worth it! It’s a butt kicker.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

For those with a military ID you can drive up to the trailhead to begin this hike but civilians will have to park in the parking lot just to the East of the guard shack. This trail starts off steep but levels off about half way through the trail. Throughout the hike you will see Spruce, Fir, and Pine. Towards the top of the incline there are Aspens that are beginning to change to their fall colors. The reservoir unfortunately has been drained due to concerns that the dam is not completely sound. Trail 360 on YouTube

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Beautiful and challenging hike but the resovoir is drained.

Monday, September 04, 2017

One of my favorites!

Sunday, September 03, 2017

Great mix of challenging trail, great views, scrambling, and a bit of danger. So surprised I didn't see a bear on this trail. I see many families on this trail but I wouldn't say it's a trail for beginners.

Bring food for a picnic at the top by the reservoir.

Saturday, September 02, 2017

Friday, September 01, 2017

Challenging, loved hiking this and would definitely recommend.

Friday, August 04, 2017

If you'd like to voice your opinion about Stanley Canyon call either Kim Mutchler 719-668-8793 or Keith Rylie (or Andy Fuches) 719-448-4800 option 4 then hold. CS utilities said because the dam is compromised and they don't utilize the water benefits they will not refill. With 1.3 billion in marijuana sales in 2016 I don't think this should even be a question.

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

The hike was fun - great views as people have mentioned. The reservoir was completely drained so the path ended at a very large mudhole with a bunch of dead fish, which was a bummer. If they allow the reservoir to fill back up, then it would definitely be a 5 star.

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Great canyon views!

Monday, June 26, 2017

Cool, easygoing hike with some difficult spots.

Sunday, June 25, 2017

Amazing hike, difficult if you have children with you (age 3-7), but can be done with great team work and determination this hike is hella fun worth every step and drip of sweat.

(p.s. A Friend or Yourself will need a Military ID needed to park at trail head. if not your journey will be an extra mile or so from a guest parking lot to trail head.)

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