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Stanley Canyon Trail

HARD 315 reviews
#17 of 215 trails in

Stanley Canyon Trail is a 5.8 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Colorado Springs, Colorado that features a lake 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.

Distance: 5.8 miles Elevation Gain: 1,702 feet Route Type: Out & Back

dogs on leash

hiking

nature trips

bird watching

running

forest

lake

views

wild flowers

wildlife

rocky

scramble

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.

6 days ago

Beautiful trail, but icy today. I had to break out my rock climbing skills a mile from the reservoir to get past an icy slope I couldn't get up in my boots.

hiking
scramble
20 days ago

Any idea what happened to the reservoir at the top? It’s gone! Beautiful fields with wildflowers in summer. Fun stream crossings and scrambling over rocks but a little hairy, make sure you allow plenty of time AO you aren’t coming down in the dark. Very steep

hiking
bugs
rocky
scramble
2 months ago

hiking
3 months ago

The views and scenery on the way up are great. Super unfortunate the reservoir was emptied otherwise this would be one of my favorite hikes.

hiking
4 months ago

the resevoir is empty and theres a sign stating so at the bottom. However, the creek through the canyon was running at a great rate and was nice to cool off in! this trail is seeing increased traffic as word spreads. it's not an easy 2 miles. we brought our kids (experienced hikers) and they had fun (9, 11 and 13). It's too steep for a baby carrier, or a child that cant hike on their own without assistance. Especially going back down. the first mile is a sharp incline of around 1000 feet on loose gravel. The second mile covers the same increase, only it involves more bouldering and scrambling, as well as sections that cross the creek, or require hiking up the creek itself. the last half mile or so levels out well, and is shaded, lush and beautiful to wander in! keep an eye out for storm forecasts because it's hard to see a storm coming in when you're in the canyon. Dont expect your descent to be faster than your ascent... picking your way back down can be tricky. overall we really enjoy this trail and have hiked it several times. I love it even more when the resevoir is in!

hiking
4 months ago

A good hike, moderate to strenuous first mile or so. Resevoir has been drained due to engineering concerns of the dam. still a very pretty hike.

hiking
4 months ago

One of our favorite hikes, even with the water being drained. Snow melt off still had a good stream running down. If you're new to this trail, stay near the waters edge, its easy to go right, when you should have stayed left. This is NOT a beginners hike.

hiking
4 months ago

One of my favorite hikes. We met some hikers from out of state who had been separated from one person in their party. Hope they found her! Note: the trail stays near the water the entire way up until it flattens out on top in a forest setting. If you can't hear/see the water (assuming it's flowing and it's not a low water year) you have likely taken a wrong turn. One tip -- wear waterproof boots so you can tread right in the water instead of risking a fall on the rocks in certain areas. Our dog handled the trail fine, including the "rock climbing" in places, but he's used to long hikes with us. The app MapMyWalk showed a round-trip distance of 4.8 miles which seems accurate. The 5.8 that's listed in the description seems a bit of a stretch, but I don't know which one is more accurate. BTW -- the reservoir has been drained due to "integrity" issues, but still a lovely hike!

hiking
rocky
scramble
5 months ago

very lush! water runoff , very Rocky nice challenge rewarding views

hiking
muddy
rocky
snow
6 months ago

Decent overall condition. Patches of dry, but still lots of snow (never deeper than 5”) after the first half mile or so. I brought microspikes with me but never used them and was fine all the way to the reservoir and back. Very pretty with the snow melting from the trees and the stream running fast!

hiking
rocky
scramble
6 months ago

moderately difficult. snow, ice, and mud on the south side of the creek. dry on north side. there were multiple points where there was a lack of obvious trail, but we found it again.

hiking
muddy
snow
7 months ago

The trail still has some patches of snow and ice but it’s not unbearable. There is a lot of loose gravel on the steep parts of the trail that making hiking back down pretty sporty. The trail was very easy to follow.

hiking
8 months 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!

Sun Sep 09 2018

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.

Mon Sep 03 2018

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.

hiking
Sun Aug 26 2018

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

Tue Jul 10 2018

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.

Sat Jun 30 2018

Good hike but sad there is no reservoir.

hiking
Thu Jun 28 2018

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

hiking
Fri Jun 22 2018

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.

Sat Jun 16 2018

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

Mon May 14 2018

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.

hiking
Mon Apr 16 2018

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.

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