Don't let snow dissuade you from Pikes Peak region trails. Let it entice you. This magical silence is only around so long.
Bundle up, bring traction for the boots and find solitude on these fairly easy, lesser-trekked trails:
1. Aiken Canyon Preserve
This often-overlooked land doesn't pack much snow. Among the shrubs and rock, it can be tricky to navigate. Keep track of where you are as you start the 4-mile loop, but also watch for wildlife and enjoy the varied songs of birds that make this a watcher's favorite. South on Colorado 115, turn right on Turkey Canyon Ranch Road.
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2. Dawson Butte Open Space
Go clockwise on the 5-mile loop, starting through scrub before the openness overlooked by Rampart Range. The trail winds through tall evergreens before meeting higher meadows with more glorious views. North on Interstate 25, exit for Tomah Road. Turn right onto Frontage Road, then left onto Tomah.
3. Florissant Fossil Beds
If you haven't visited the Teller County national monument, perhaps now is the time. The winter quiet puts in perspective the ancient time represented by massive redwood stumps that once dominated the tropical landscape. On our last visit, we had the 3-mile Boulder Creek loop to ourselves, along with imposing view of Pikes Peak over the frosty valley. Go west on U.S. 24 to Florissant, turn left onto Teller County 1. Park is on the right.
4. Iron Mountain
We're always surprised to see few people heading up the little summit. That's probably due to the trailhead location; quick access is reserved for those living in Manitou Springs. For only 2 miles and fewer than 1,000 feet up, the views are stunning. The trailhead is at the end of Pawnee Avenue. Park in town and walk past the elementary school, through the neighborhood.
5. Sondermann Park
This 97-acre preserve also hides behind a neighborhood. The parking lot is home to the Catamount Institute, the nonprofit that encourages you to engage the senses here. Trails meander grassy knolls with far-reaching sights of the mountains. It's at 740 W. Caramillo St., off the I-25 exit for Fontanero Street.