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 Pike National Forest falls within Clear Creek, Teller, Park, Jefferson, Douglas and El Paso counties. The Pike National Forest was set aside as a Forest Reserve and later was designated a National Forest in 1906.

The recreation resource on the Pike National Forest is widespread and varied. Marking the north end of the is Mount Evans at 14,264 ft. elevation surrounded by the 73,000 acre Mount Evans Wilderness. Mount Bierstadt, another of Colorado's "fourteeners" at 14,060 ft. 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 the Buffalo Peaks country. Except for Geneva and Jefferson Creeks, the recreation resource in this large expanse of Park County remains primarily primitive and undeveloped, accessible mainly by four-wheel drive, horse or foot. Remains of early day mining railroads and stage routes are still easily discernible, further adding to the attraction to the area. More "fourteeners" are found west of Fairplay: Mount Lincoln 14,286, Mount Bross 14,172 ft., and Mount Democrat 14,148 ft.

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 his recreation experience in a near natural environment.

Tarryall Creek and Lost Park are jump-off points for the Lost Creek Wilderness where motorized travel is prohibited. This approximately 106,000 acre area provides a place within an hours drive of the metropolitan area of Colorado Springs where an individual can experience a wilderness setting. 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 arete crests characterize the landscape. Talus slopes of huge boulders are common. Stream courses are tortuous and have in places carved underground channels through the talus
debris. In addition to its great 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. Numerous Forest Service campgrounds and commercial campgrounds are used to capacity from the middle of June to Labor Day. Manitou Lake Picnic Ground in the area is heavily used year around for fishing and picnicking. The remainder of National Forest land in Teller County offers opportunities for camping, fishing, picnicking and other
recreational pursuits in a near natural environment. Pikes Peak rising to 14,110 ft. 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. Over 300,000 people use the toll road each year . Revenues from the tolls are used entirely for maintenance and improvement of the road and summit house. The famous "Cog Road" carries thousands to the top of the Peak. Thousands more hike 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 on the Front Range. They provide opportunities for camping, picnicking and sightseeing as well as circle trips 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 60 minute drive from Colorado Springs. Also, at the area is the Business and Professional Women's Club Nature Trail designed for wheelchairs and with signing in Braille.

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