Taking the Kids: On a newly opened Cog Railway, one of only three in the U.S.
“The road was nerve-wracking,” admitted Ali Balash, 12, visiting with her family from Fairbanks, Alaska. “But I liked the view.”
Her little brother River, 6, meanwhile, thought the best part “was seeing my sister so scared!” Unless you have kids in car seats or are traveling with those with challenges, wear your hiking shoes or be prepared to take a shuttle to the top. Shuttles this summer will be mandatory from mile 16 to the summit. Vehicles with children in cars seats or passengers with ADA requirements will be allowed to summit in their own car.
Stop along the way at the North Slope Recreation area where licensed fishermen can try their luck for elusive trout in three different lakes (May to Oct) and adventure-seekers can hike and bike on nearby trails.
On the packed train, our affable guide David kept up a running commentary as we rode up the 8.9 miles, at some points gaining 25 feet for every 100 feet in search of the elusive yellow-bellied marmot, Big Horn sheep and mule deer. We also passed towering Ponderosa pines and Aspen trees that will be especially beautiful when they turn colors in fall.
David told us it all started with a mule in the late 1880s when Zalmon Simmons (yes, he was the Simmons who founded the Beautyrest Mastress Company) took a two-day trip to the summit on a mule to check on one of his inventions, telegraph wires that ran to the summit.
He decided the views were so terrific that more people should be able to access the summit in an easier way. Track was laid and the first riders made it to the top of Pikes Peak on June 30, 1881 with engineers shoveling coal to get the steam locomotives up the mountain.
Spencer Penrose, the larger-than-life owner of the sprawling Broadmoor Hotel in Colorado Springs, bought the railway in 1925. Today, you can also get away at the Broadmoor’s Ranch at Emerald Valley (the chef will prepare the fish you’ve caught) or at Cloud Camp, which in Penrose’s Day was a private hunting lodge. The Broadmoor has also opened a Fishing Camp on the Taryall River with restored miners’ cabins and five miles of private waters, all part of The Broadmoor’s wilderness experiences.
You can also zipline in South Cheyenne Canyon (10 ziplines, suspension bridges and a 180-foot rappel) or simply hike around Seven Falls, a series of waterfalls (a 181-foot drop) in a 1,250-foot-wall box canyon less than a mile from The Broadmoor. Can you climb 224 steps to the hiking trails?
At the new Pikes Peak Visitor Center, a partnership of the City of Colorado Springs, the U.S. Forest Service, the U.S. Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine and Colorado Springs Utility, there are new outdoor viewing spots around the summit with interpretive rails describing the summit to help visitors understand what they are seeing.
New permanent indoor interpretive exhibits when opened will include interactive digital features that will bring the mountain to life and allow visitors to weave their own personal experiences into the mountain’s story.
Up here, you really will see “America the Beautiful” and “purple mountain majesties above the fruited plain.”
(For more Taking the Kids, visit www.takingthekids.com and also follow TakingTheKids on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram where Eileen Ogintz welcomes your questions and comments. The Kid’s Guide to Philadelphia, the 13th in the kid’s guide series, was published in 2020, with The Kid’s Guide to Camping coming in 2021.)
©2021 Eileen Ogintz. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.(c) 2021 DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.