When you’re ready for a challenging hike, for your brain and your body, you may want to explore Blodgett Peak at Blodgett Peak Open Space. It’s challenge for your body because you’ll climb more than 2,000 feet of elevation in about 2.5 miles. It’s a challenge for your mind, because the trail map isn’t marked with trail names and the trail is intermittent so you’ll be route finding.
Blodgett Peak Open Space is off Woodman Road in Colorado Springs (directions below). The hike starts at 7,158 feet and the summit is at around 9,400 feet, so you know you’ve got a workout ahead.
Walk around the gate in the parking lot and start up the main road. It’s a wide, gravel road here so the walking is easy, except for slight uphill. However, because it’s a wide, open road, there is very little shade here.
Just a few feet from the trailhead, you’ll come to your first signed trail split. The Peregrine Trail goes up to a nearby water tank. I don’t know where the Ponderosa Trail goes, but you’ll want to stay on the Blodgett Trail, which is the road. As the road switchbacks up a hill, you’ll see a couple trail splits, just stay on the main road.
About 0.6 miles from the trailhead, you’ll come to a turnoff for the Hummingbird Trail. While you may think the peak would be on the Blodgett Trail, it’s not. From here, the Blodgett Trail goes about .2 miles and ends at a water tank. If you want to climb the peak, turn on the Hummingbird Trail.
The Hummingbird Trail is a nice change from the Blodgett Trail. The Hummingbird Trail quickly enters the trees and shrubs, so there’s some shade.
You’ll pass the turnoff for the Gamble Oak Trail, then when the trail takes a big right curve, you may notice a few burned trees. The Waldo Canyon Fire burned through parts of the park in 2012.
About a half mile from the Hummingbird Trail turnoff, you may spot a little social trail to your right, take the path just a few steps to a nice overlook of the area. After a photo or two, return to the main trail. Just a short distance away, the trail flattens out and the walking is much easier. This is a great place to catch your breath before the big climbing about to come.
As I walked, I spotted a sign high up on a tree on the right. It marked a private trail. It also said Blodgett Peak and the Air Force Academy were to the left, so I knew I was on the right trail. But that feeling didn’t last long. Just a few steps from the sign, there was an open area and several social trails. There’s no sign here telling you which way to go. After talking to several people – it appears the Blodgett Peak trail turns left and the trails to the Air Force Academy property continue straight ahead.
Ok, left it was. The trail here follows a creek bed. Just a few steps from the split, I spotted something in the creek bed. On closer inspection, it was a well of some sort. Interesting, but it was time to move on.
Here’s where the hike begins to get harder. Not only did it get steeper, the trail got intermittent. I hiked up the left side of the creek bed, but occasionally I noticed trails on the right side. My left side trail came and went. At times, it was under downed trees. Other times, I just couldn’t find it. I was just about to give up and cross the creek when I saw a cairn on my side. I decided to continue up.
I stayed on the left side of the creek until I hit a waterfall of sorts (see photo in slideshow). It was just a trickle, but it was a good enough landmark for me. After the waterfall, the left side trail disappeared and the trail on the right side had several cairns (rock piles that mark trails). I decided to move to the right side. At this point I was about 1.7 miles from the trailhead.
The right side trail wasn’t better than the left side trail. However, there was more cairns. The trail on this side is still steep and in this next section it got kinda scary because of the steepness and all the loose rock/gravel on the trail. Take your time, be careful and pick your steps.
It was only another tenth of a mile or so from the waterfall, to a saddle of sorts with some rocks. Now, it was decision time. At this point, you’ve climbed about 1,200 feet in elevation. But there’s another 1,000 or so to go. The question is, what way do you want to go?
– You can split off here and start climbing the boulder field on your right. It appears most people turn off here and head up the boulder field between the two peaks to your right. Two guys in their 20s told me they scrambled up both of the two rocky peaks up there and needed both of them and a third guy to maneuver through the rocks to get on top. They said it was pretty sketchy.
– I decided to try what some call the “easier” route. At the saddle, I continued on the “trail” over the saddle. Here the trail hangs on the side of a hill. I went just a few feet when I found a wide-open, dirt path up a gully of sorts. It was similar to what I had been doing – steep and filled with loose rocks/gravel. I made my way almost straight up at times trying not to slide back down the hill. There were lots of footprints here. There were also lots of social trails. I tried to follow the cairns hoping they’d lead me to a good spot.
Suddenly I spotted another “saddle” of sorts and several cairns. The cairns were on a trail that went west and not to the boulder field. Again, I thought about the trip report I read that mentioned an easier trail to the left of the peak, so I continued west. The trail soon turned north and started up another steep “trail-like” area. As I tried to follow the cairns, I soon found myself in the midst of a burn area. Here the trees were blackened and many were dead. Looking up, I could see a large swatch of burned trees. Now I understood why the trail was closed for awhile after the fire.
I did a good job trying to follow the intermittent trail and the cairns. However, at about 9,100 feet, I suddenly ran out of trail and cairns. I started up the boulder field and rocks on the west side of Blodgett Peak. However, I soon found myself climbing over dead trees and trying not to fall on rocks that were sliding in ash and dirt. After one rock gave way and I slid, I decided maybe this wasn’t such a good choice. I turned around 180-200 feet below the summit (in elevation). At this point, I had hiked about 2.2 miles and gained more than 2,000 feet in elevation.
Note, hiking down wasn’t much easier. While it was slightly easier to see the trail on the way down, there was a lot of sliding in the loose rocks.
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Details: The hike to the top of Blodgett Peak is about 5 miles roundtrip with 2,200 feet of elevation gain. Based on what the other hikers told me, I don’t think many people go all the way to the summit.
Directions: From I-25, exit Woodman and turn west. Drive about 5.7 miles to the trailhead on your right.