Although hiking solo is a peaceful experience that I would encourage everyone to try, trolling around the mountains with friends can be quite entertaining and I’m always down to hike (DTH). Said friends requested a more remote area that wasn’t too crowded, a difficult request to fulfill on a perfect Colorado Saturday afternoon. So my recommendation was the Mackinaw Trail, an easy breezy 5 mile out and back (2.5 each way) along the bank of the North Catamount Reservoir off Pikes Peak Highway.
The reservoir is located through the entry gates to Pikes Peak where an entry fee is required. HOWEVER, be sure to tell the gate attendant you are going to the Catamount Reservoirs and NOT to Pikes Peak. You’ll pay only $4 per person instead of $12. The sign to the Catamount Reservoirs is quite obvious but the road to them is a loooooong winding gravel/dirt road. If you have the propensity to get car sick, you’ll hurl. Sit in the front. Just do it. Said friends were convinced I had murderous plans as it appeared we were driving into the mountainous abyss. They wanted remote, so I gave them friggin remote! In all the times I’ve been on this trail, I have only seen a handful of people. But given my luck as of late, I feared the entire Duggar family would decide to hike the trail that day spewing children all over the place. Dear Source Energy, please don’t let this be the day everyone and their cousin decide to show up. As it turned out, we had the entire trail to ourselves. Winning! Thanks Source Energy.
To get to the trailhead, park in the North Catamount parking area. North not South, and walk along the dam to the trailhead on the left. Look for the tall brown marker in the tall brown trees. You’ll find it. Eventually. Who the hell thought it was a great idea to make the trail markers look exactly like the host environment so you can never EVER find them. Seriously! Let’s make the markers camouflage so hikers wander around for hours trying to figure out where to start. Anyhow, the views of Pikes Peak from the reservoir are captivating and immediately visible from the dam. As mentioned earlier, the trail literally follows the shore of the reservoir allowing for stunning views along the entire length of the trail. Pictures are best taken in the morning as the sun shines ONTO the peak rather than from OVER the peak. Lesson learned. Many of the pics below were taken when I hiked it in the morning a few weeks ago just as the leaves were changing. There is essentially zero elevation gain for the duration of the hike and as long as you are DTH, an epic time is guaranteed for all.
The happy ending to this great hike was had at The Burrowing Owl, a vegan bar/restaurant serving AMAZING food and unique drinks. Trust me, coming from a proud carnivore, this food will fool any meat eating, dairy loving glutton. It is a must-stop on the way back into town.
Big shout out to the friend group for making this an ‘epic’ hike: the DTH sugar baby (Yang), the deep-V wearing suburbian athlete, the potty-mouthed devil wolf (Yin), and the panda loving Denver-ite.