Among longtime outdoor lovers in Colorado Springs, High Drive garners mixed reviews and emotions.
Some still long for the days when the road was a scenic drive, as it was historically. This century saw the gates come down and the designation for feet and bikes only. With the discovery of endangered greenback cutthroat trout swimming in the Bear Creek watershed, federal action included closures and reroutes of beloved trails in recent years.
Some have been left bitter. Others, however, still find a splendid escape into nature – and a workout to boot.
An escape into nature? some ask. High Drive is indeed more road than trail, with plenty of traffic in the form of runners and cyclists. High Drive has become a hotbed for training athletes. That’s for the elevation gain in a relatively short stretch, with the opportunity for more mileage on adjacent Section 16 and / or Captain Jacks trails.
We last started from the terminus at the intersection of Gold Camp and Bear Creek roads, downhill from the Section 16 trailhead. From here, one is greeted by the melody of the creek and the embrace of tall evergreens. Towers of rock spot the forest. It was morning, that enchanting hour when first light splashes into the canyon.
In a little more than a mile, the path starts switchbacking up to sweeping views of rolling promontories and rock outcrops. A gate stands at a four way – Captain Jacks toward the right, Mays Peak to the left, straight to the top parking lot of North Cheyenne Canon. We turned around here.
Trip log: 3.8 miles round trip (out and back), 1,317 feet elevation gain
Getting there: Off Cimarron Street / US 24, go south on 26th Street. At stop sign, turn right onto Lower Gold Camp Road, following to Section 16 trailhead. Ahead, the road dips and curves, with High Drive starting on the right side.
FYI: Open 5 am-9pm Nov. 1-April 30, 5 am-10 pm May 1-Oct. 31. Do not leave valuables in car. Trails icy in winter, bring traction.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE