Austin Bluffs

Page Type
Colorado, United States, North America
El Paso
Spring, Summer, Fall, Winter
6730 ft / 2051 m
2530 Hits
78.93% Score
Log in
to vote
Page By:
Austin Bluffs
Created On: Feb 1, 2013
Last Edited On: Mar 23, 2013


Western Slope of Austin Bluffs
Western Slope of Austin Bluffs

Austin Bluffs is a dramatic sandstone outcrop that forms a familiar eastern backdrop for the city of Colorado Springs. The University of Colorado at Colorado Springs is nestled up at the western base of the bluff and the hill no doubt serves as an outdoor Stairmaster for numerous students. The crumbling sandstone supports stunted pines and yucca and views from the top are expansive, taking in much of the Colorado Springs metro area, including downtown, and of course the Rampart Range and Pikes Peak and neighbors on clear day. There are also good views of neighboring Pulpit Rock.

This is a great, super-short outing when time is tight that offers a great reward for minor effort.

Rank: Unranked
Prominence: 260 feet
USGS Quad: Pikeview

Rank & Prominence: Lists of John

Getting There & Route Information

Route Map
Route Map

The highpoint of Austin Bluffs is easily accessed via its west ridge, but finding parking for this outing can be a challenge. I simply parked in a university parking garage, which offered free weekend parking. Others have parked on streets (such as Stanton Street) in neighborhoods to access the trail.

•From behind a building called The Lodge near Lot L, a lighted (!) walkway called the Sherpa Trail the links the main campus to the Alpine Village dorms traverses across the western base of the peak.
•From this walkway, catch a badly eroded footpath up crumbling mud/rock to the summit area, easily recognized by the parkour equipment.
•Campus Map:
•Mileage and elevation gain are literally negligible. You can easily complete the roundtrip in 30 minutes without rushing. YDS rating is Class 2 due to severe erosion and crumbling natural rock steps.

SP member telemarkdude recommends this route (see his attached route page for even more detail): 

Park in the Four Diamonds parking lot on North Nevada and Eagle Rock Road (or the mall across the street). There's a nice trail that starts behind the building at the SE corner of lot #14 that climbs through Ponderosa pine and an open field before reaching the UCCS dorms on Stanton Rd. A trail leading up the west ridge starts behind one of the dormitory buildings, Shavano House. 

Sherpa Trail and eroded footpath to summit of Austin Bluffs
Sherpa Trail
Eroded west slope trail
Hiking crumbling sandstone

Red Tape

Sandstone outcrop
Sandstone outcrop

The most reasonable access to this highpoint is through the campus of the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs. If you wish, stop by an administrative office and seek permission to hike to the top of Austin Bluffs. Otherwise, please follow instructions on any signs or placards, don’t litter and be polite to anyone you encounter. Any college campus I have ever spent time on does not seem to mind visitors who stroll the grounds as long as they cause no problems.

Austin Bluffs Summit Area
Pakour equipment at summit
Colorado Springs from summit

Camping & Lodging

Views of town from the summit
Views of town from the summit
Sandstone Outcrops
Sandstone Outcrops

As Austin Bluffs sits in an urban area, there is no nearby camping available. Numerous hotels for various budgets with ready access to I-25 can be found at the Nevada Ave | Corporate Dr | Rockrimmon Blvd exit as well as on Garden of the Gods Road.

Weather & Seasons

Pulpit Rock
Pulpit Rock from Austin Bluffs

Thanks to its urban location and short distance from the trailhead, Austin Bluffs is accessible year-round. In fact, snow season is a lovely time to visit this area as the snow emphasizes the desert-like plantlife and stark rock outcrops.