We just retd from 5 nts in the Pikes Peak area. We spent most of our time hiking and wanted to post our itinerary if it would help anyone with their travel plans:
Day 1: The Incline - park in Manitou Springs near the Moroccon Restaurant. Free pkg and take the free shuttle to the Cog Railway Depot. The Incline start is a short walk from there. Bathrooms at the base. I'm a marathon runner and made it up in 54 min. My husband is not in the shape I'm in at all and made it in 1:28. Absolutely doable for all fitness levels if you take your time and break frequently.
From the Incline we hiked up about another 1-2 miles on the Barr Trail. We then hiked down 4-5 miles down the Barr Trail. Barr Trail comes out where The Incline Starts.
Day 2: Cave Of The Winds - We did the Lantern Tour. Average tour. 90 mins. Early tours offer a discount. Much more fun was the Adventure Fun Pass for $20/person. Unlimited rides on the Batt a Pult and Rope Course. We are 2 grown adults and enjoyed both! Batt A Pult is like a zip line where you are seated. Different sensation than zip lining. Look at their web site for discounts. This wk they were offering buy 1 get 1 free.
Garden Of the Gods: Free attraction. LOTS of hiking. My recommendation is get a trail map and get off the main concrete/paved trails. These trails/sidewalks were packed with tourists walkin 5 people wide, stopping every 2 seconds for pictures, strollers, etc.... Get off on the trails and enjoy. We hiked at least 5-6 miles and rarely came across another hiker.
Day 3: Pikes Peak Summit: We chose to drive to the top of the summit instead of taking the train. They are both neat in their own right and each offer different perspectives. We chose to drive b/c we wanted to get out and hike along the way. We also wanted to be at the summit to watch the Marathon runners reach the 1/2 way turnaroun point. $12/person to drive to the summit. The C Springs tourism magazine offered a $2 off coupon.
Seven Falls: We arrived at 7 Falls just before 5 pm. Prices raise by $1.75/person at 5 pm. We also had a $1 off/person coupon from the Garden of The Gods trail map. We hiked up the approx 180 steps to the first vantage point instead of taking the elevator. Great workout if that's what you are looking for. We then climbed the 2nd set of stairs (approx 250+ and no elevator). We hiked both trails. The 1st trail takes about an hour if you stop frequently to take pictures and see the views. The 2nd trail takes about 40 min again ifyou stop frequently. We stayed until it got dark to see the falls lit up. Recommend going back to the 1st vantage point when you enter the park to see the falls once they are lit up. You can't get the complete night time view without going to this point.
Day 4: Red Rock Canyon - perhaps our favorite hiking location. Another free attraction and miles upon miles of trails. We hiked at least 6+ miles.
Bear Creek Dog Park - 25 acres of rolling hills, trails, and streams. We were missing our dogs so enjoyed more hiking AND dogs. Another beautiful location.
The Airplane Restaurant - An old military Boeing airplane turned in to a casual dining restaurant. My husband is a commercial airline pilot and got a big thrill out of this!
All in all we hiked anywhere from 8-12 miles per day including the hikes listed above and those within walking distance from our "cabin".
We stayed at The Blue Spruce Caboose. Can't recommend this place enough. An old IL Central RailRoad Caboose turned in to a 1 bedroom cabin. Located on a shallow streem and 2 acres. They can be found on vrbo.com. Almost everything we did was an approx 10 min drive from our caboose (except 7 Falls and The Airplane Restaurant - approx 20-25 min). We would hike in the a.m. , return for a late lunch and then head out again. The caboose is located literally at the base of the entrance to Pikes Peak Highway. Couldn't have asked for a better location.
We had planned to hike from the base to the summit of Pikes Peak. However, the weather did not cooperate on the day this was planned. Was not worth taking the risk and glad we didn't b/c the afternoon brought a strong rain storm.
Hope this helps you hiking junkies like us! Happy to answer any questions anyone may have.....