About the Area

Mountain Lake

Pike National Forest | San Isabel National Forest | Cimarron National Grassland | Comanche National Grassland

The Pike and San Isabel National Forests are two of eleven National Forests in Colorado and two of 154 within the National Forest System of the United States. The Pike and San Isabel National Forests headquarters is located at 2840 Kachina Drive, Pueblo, Colorado 81008.


The 1,106,604 acres of the Pike National Forest fall within Clear Creek, Teller, Park, Jefferson, Douglas, and El Paso counties. The Pike National Forest was first set aside as a Forest Reserve and was later designated a National Forest in 1906.

Recreation on the Pike National Forest is widespread and varied. Marking the north end of the forest is Mount Evans at 14,264 feet Elevation, surrounded by the 73,000-acre Mount Evans Wilderness. Mount Bierstadt, another of Colorado's "fourteeners" at 14,060 feet Elevation, is also located in the Mount Evans Wilderness. North and west of South Park, in the western part of the forest, are the high elevations of the Mosquito Range from Guanella Pass southward to Buffalo Peaks. Except for Geneva and Jefferson Creeks, recreation in this large expanse of Park County remains primarily primitive and undeveloped, accessible mainly by four-wheel drive vehicles, horseback or foot. Remains of early-day mining railroads and stagecoach routes are still easily discernible, further adding to the attraction to the area. More "fourteeners" are found west of Fairplay: Mount Lincoln at 14,286 feet, Mount Bross at 14,172 feet, and Mount Democrat at 14,148 feet.

Also located in this portion of the forest is the Windy Ridge Bristlecone Pine Scenic Area. This scenic area, located about four miles northwest of Alma, was established in July 1967 to protect a unique grove of beautifully grotesque and deformed bristlecone pine trees.

East of South Park, but still in Park County, are the popular fishing and camping areas of Lost Park, Tarryall Creek, and Elevenmile Canyon. Most of the Pike National Forest in this area remains undeveloped, allowing the visitor to enjoy solitude. Tarryall Creek and Lost Park are jump-off points for the Lost Creek Wilderness, where motorized travel is prohibited. This 106,000-acre area provides remote recreational experience within an hour’s drive of Colorado Springs. The Lost Creek Wilderness contains bold outcrops of Pikes Peak granite that have been carved into an infinite variety of forms and shapes by the forces of erosion. Great dome-like forms, spires, turrets, and acute and rugged mountain crests characterize the landscape. Talus slopes of large boulders are common. Streams have carved underground channels throughout the talus debris. In addition to its scenic beauty, the area offers the geologist — professional or amateur — an outstanding opportunity to study the effects of erosion of granite in a semi-arid climate.

Manitou Park is a popular area on the Pike National Forest in Teller County. This picturesque area of ponderosa pines and grass serves mainly as a "base camp" for visitors to the Pikes Peak region. Forest Service and commercial campgrounds are filled to capacity from the middle of June to Labor Day. Manitou Lake Picnic Ground is heavily used year-round for fishing and picnicking. The remainder of National Forest System land in Teller County offers opportunities for camping, fishing, picnicking and other recreational pursuits. 

Pikes Peak, rising to 14,110 feet in elevation, is the most dominant and well-known recreation attraction on the national forest in El Paso County. The Pikes Peak toll road, which was completed in 1915, is operated by the City of Colorado Springs under permit from the Forest Service. More than 300,000 people use the road each year. Revenue from the tolls are used entirely for maintenance and improvement of the road and summit house. The famous "Cog Road" carries thousands of visitors to the top of the Peak. Thousands more make the ascent by foot, hiking up the Barr Trail from Manitou Springs. This 11.7 mile trail was designated a National Recreation Trail in 1979.

The Gold Camp and Rampart Range Roads are popular recreation roads just west of Colorado Springs. They provide opportunities for camping, picnicking, and sightseeing, as well as road tours connecting Colorado Springs, Cripple Creek, and Woodland Park.

The Pike National Forest offers sightseeing, hiking, lake fishing, boating, picnicking, and cross-country skiing at the 500-acre Rampart Reservoir, a 1-hour drive from Colorado Springs. Also at the area is the Business and Professional Women's Club Nature Trail, designed for wheelchairs and containing signage in Braille.

The Devil's Head Lookout Tower in Douglas County, the last operational lookout along the Front Range, rests upon the highest point on the Rampart Range. This tower is accessible by the 1.3-mile Devil's Head National Recreation Trail.