Weeknight camping is a novel way to break from routine and might serve as a rejuvenating escape. From car camping to bikepacking and backpacking, Colorado Springs has a number of backcountry gems close enough for an after-work adventure.
Weeknight camping takes a certain level of preparation and planning. Although camping can cut into time for studying, as a student I find myself more productive if I force myself to finish my work earlier. Certain homework, like readings from a book or excerpts you print beforehand, are easy to bring with you.
Barr Trail Backpacking
The first option involves backpacking up the Barr Trail which leads to the top of Pikes Peak. The trailhead is located in Manitou Springs, near the bottom of the Incline. Although the whole trail is 26 miles round trip, by hiking three to five miles up the Barr Trail, you’re likely to find good dispersed campsites. Make sure to hike past the junction for the Incline. Although some sites are available as few as three miles in, the sites improve in quality near mile four and five. There is a small stream that flows through this area, but I suggest bringing enough water for a single night. Hike in after class or bring a head lamp if you start later. Give yourself time to walk down in the morning and return to campus before class.
Gold Camp Road Bikepacking
Gold Camp Road, which once served as a historic railway, offers excellent options for bikepacking. You can choose to start at Stratton Open Space, North Cheyenne Cañon or the Upper Lot after the second tunnel. From this lot, the road is closed to vehicles, making it perfect for bikepacking. Although the areas off the road can be steep, there are select pockets that offer solid camping close to the trailhead. The beauty of riding Gold Camp Road is that the return to campus the following morning is almost entirely downhill.
For more details of bikepacking Gold Camp Road or to join a local group ride, consider checking out the Don’t Overthink it Series.
Cheyenne Mountain State Park
Funny enough, car camping can be the hardest to find without leaving the Springs. Fortunately, Cheyenne Mountain State Park offers year-round camping. Reservations can be made on the park’s website. Although prices to enter the park ($9) and campsite fees ($28) are a bit steep, it makes for an easy to access location you can share with friends. The state park is also home to a wonderful network of bike and hiking trails.