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Page Type: Route

Location: Colorado, United States, North America

Lat/Lon: 38.73690°N / 104.8806°W

Object Title: MacNiel-Swisher

Route Type: Hiking

Season: Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter

Time Required: Half a day

Difficulty: Class 1 on-trail to a straightforward off-trail, wooded ridge ascent

Route Quality: 
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Page By: Sarah Simon

Created/Edited: Nov 30, 2009 / Nov 30, 2009

Object ID: 578641

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Page Score: 75.81%  - 6 Votes 

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Mount Garfield & Mount Arthur
Mount Garfield & Mount Arthur from the MacNiel Trail

This route is a bit circuitous, but leverages trails right up to the summit ridge of Cheyenne Mountain, which allows for a straightforward bushwack to the summit boulders. The route follows first the MacNiel Trail, which countours along the northwestern slopes of Cheyenne Mountain, providing fantastic views of area peaks including Cookstove Mountain, Mount Rosa, Mount Garfield, Mount Arthur and Tenney Crags.

As the route essentially doubles-back on itself, the impatient will want to opt for a steeper, more direct route. Those happy to enjoy a stroll through delightful, close-to-town mountain scenery and minimize their bushwacking scars, however, will appreciate following the two trails that make up this route.

Round Trip Mileage: About 7.5 miles
Elevation Gain: About 1,000 feet net (cumulative gain will be higher)

Getting There

Warm, dry slopes
Warm, dry slopes
Sign for Stable at Broadmoor
Sign for Stable at Broadmoor

• Exit 138 west from Highway I-25 on Lake Avenue/Circle Drive. Soon you will be looking at the front of the Broadmoor Hotel.
• Follow signs to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo, leading you to the right around the hotel until you get to the Old Stage Road.
• Take Old Stage Road (FDR 368) into the mountains/uphill for 5.7 miles to a sign for the Broadmoor Stables (at the crest of a gentle hill).
• Parking is available for several vehicles in a pull-out to the right of the road.

Be forewarned that Old Stage Road is bedeviled by irresponsible, speeding, out of control drivers. Combine this behavior with narrow, wash-boarded dirt roads and deep chugholes and your worst objective hazard of the day becomes other drivers and their vehicles. Drive defensively on this road!

Route Description

MacNiel-Swisher Route Map
MacNiel-Swisher Route Map
Standing by your vehicle, you may doubt a trail exists at all, but it does.

- Carefully cross Old Stage Road and ascent a small hill of Pikes Peak gravel.
- The trail you want to pick up initially parallels Old Stage road heading northbound.
Note: To successfully pick up the MacNiel trail, avoid the temptation to head steeply due-east on a wide use-trail.
- The MacNiel Trail contours along the northwest slopes of Cheyenne Mountain, weaving in and out of drainages, for a little more than 2 miles.
- At roughly 2.2 miles, the steep but cairned Swisher Trail will present itself subtley to your right.
- The Swisher Trail steeply ascends a minor ridgelette heading southeast for approximately 1/2 mile as the crow flies (but amounting to more like ¾ of a mile of on-foot distance).
- The Swisher Trail finally gains the ridge of Cheyenne Mountain where the view before you opens up to a nice mountain meadow.
- Upon reaching the ridge, turn sharply southwest and follow the ridgeline to the subtle summit of Cheyenne Mountain.

Stove Mountain from MacNiel
Stove Mountain from the MacNiel Trail

Essential Gear

  • Trail map (the Pikes Peak Atlas would be ideal)

  • Compass

  • Sturdy hiking boots with grippy soles

  • Long pants to save your skin during the bushwack

  • Water and snacks

  • A camera to save memories of the high country views

  • First aid kit

  • Other standard backcountry essentials

Pikes Peak from MacNiel Trail
Pikes Peak from MacNiel Trail


Stove Mountain from MacNielMount Garfield & Mount ArthurPikes Peak from MacNiel TrailDescending the Swisher TrailMacNiel-Swisher Route MapSign for Stable at BroadmoorWarm, dry slopes