By: Emily Stockton and Mackenzie Winebold
Spring has sprung in Colorado, making it the perfect time to go explore the hiking trails near Manitou Springs. During your stay at SunMountain Center, be sure to check out one or all five of these beautiful spots!
1. Manitou Incline
The Manitou Incline has officially been made legal to hike (not that it stopped Coloradans before!) and offers the best aerial view of Manitou Springs around. After climbing all 2,744 steps, you’ll have reached the summit—an impressive feat!
If you intend to hike the Incline, be sure to bring plenty of water, clothing that is suitable for the weather, and wear a good pair of hiking shoes. You should also be aware of the signs of altitude sickness, as this one-mile hike comes with a 2,000-foot increase in elevation.
Still interested? To access this trail, you’ll need to hop on the free shuttle that runs between Memorial Park and the base of the Incline.
2. Intemann Trail
The Paul Intemann Memorial Trail is named for the Manitou Springs City Planner, Paul Intemann. This 1.8-mile trail is great for beginners, as the elevation increase is fewer than 400 ft. As you walk along this trail, you’ll notice beautiful Colorado wildflowers and stunning mountain views.
 3. Barr Trail
Barr Trail is another hot spot here in Manitou Springs, as this hike will bring the brave of heart to the top of Pikes Peak, America’s Mountain. In 6.5 miles, you’ll have climbed an astounding 3,800 ft. in elevation, most of which is accomplished in the first three miles of the trail.
Similarly to the Incline, you’ll want to bring plenty of water, snacks to keep your energy up, and clothes that are appropriate for all types of weather, as you may experience dramatic differences in temperature as elevation increases.
You can also access this trial using the Free Shuttle from Memorial Park to the base of the Incline.
4. Red Rocks Open Space
This gorgeous open space is composed of six hiking trails, each beginner-friendly, and relatively short compared to the others on this list. The longest trail, Hogback, is 3.3 miles while the shortest, Upper Dog Loop, is only one mile. Additionally, Red Rocks Open Space offers a little glimpse into Colorado history—in the 1800’s, a quarry was opened in this space, and one can still access this area via Quarry Trail. With six trails to hike, there is plenty of space to explore.
5. Garden of the Gods Trails
You won’t want to miss out on the iconic Garden of the Gods. With 15 miles of hiking trails at various difficulties, there is truly something for every adventurer in the park. From the wheelchair and stroller accessible Perkins Trail which will bring you to iconic rock formations such as Kissing Camels rock, to more challenging trails like the Siamese Twins trail which offers stunning views of Pikes Peak, you’re sure to find the adventure you’re looking for at Garden of the Gods. Similar to Red Rocks Open Space, you’ll need to be prepare for hiking in a vast area.

For more details about these trails and other great activities in Manitou Springs, visit

To remain healthy, our bodies need a little support between each transition from one season to the next. This is more necessary now than ever. There was a time when the weather was a little more predictable and our lives a bit more geographically bound. This made it easier to move from the heat of summer to the cooler temperatures of fall. Or the colder winter weather to the freshness of spring. With climate changes and international travel, these seasonal transitions can be challenging. However, there are ways we can support our bodies as the shifts of nature occur––or as our geographical location changes.


Ayurveda, a natural eastern approach to bringing balance to the mind, body, and spirit, often holds the key to a successful, healthy body during all seasons. Let’s take a look at the transition from warmer climates, when pitta abounds to cooler, dryer one, when vata is likely to be dominant.


Nutritional Support

When the weather turns colder and drier (qualities associated with vata) and we move out of the fire of pitta energy in the summer, it’s a good time to reduce our intake of raw foods. It takes more digestive fire (agni) or energy to digest our foods. And when our digestion slows down or becomes impeded by less than ideal food choices, we become sluggish and our bodies become breeding grounds for illness.


According to Amadea Morningstar and Urmila Desai, authors of The Ayurvedic Cookbook, the fall is the most important time to attend to diet. This is the time when the attribute of motion is most prevalent. We’re “on the go a lot, mentally, physically, or both.” This requires grounding. Warm, nourishing foods will help us do that. They say to make sure food is “warm, moist, and well-lubricated. Soup, hot drinks, and rice with a little oil” are beneficial for this.


Michael Monroe, SunMountain Center chef, suggests increasing the use of spices such as cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon, to name a few,to bring warmth to our dishes and our bodies. Additionally, acorn squash stuffed with walnuts seasoned much like sausage is a good way to support the body and tantalize the taste buds. Warm muffins are also an added culinary treat that do more than just satisfy our sweet tooth. See the Chocolate Chip Recipe below to warm your soul and your body.




SunWater Yoga Instructor Justin Kovich offers the following to support your practice and your body in cooler weather:



Begin in a low lunge and then straighten and flex the front leg, by shifting your weight. This circulates the lymph through the legs and cleanses the body of toxins.


Organ Massage

 While sitting, place two soft fists on either side of the belly button. Do a forward fold over your fists, and gently massage your stomach for 3-4 breaths. Sit straight, and then repeat the action several times after moving your hands to different locations around the belly. However, do not perform this massage after eating.




 Sooth your skin, which may become drier during this season, with a self-massage, using unrefined organic sesame oil. (Avoid using coconut oil as this can have a cooling effect–––the exact opposite of what we want to do at this time.) Apply oil to the feet and hands first. Circle around the joints and gently work the oil into other parts of your body. Apply to your face and then massage your scalp as well.  Leave on as long as possible and then shower to rinse off excess oil and the toxins that have been released in the process.


Flowing with the Light


Cooler weather associated with vata energy can leave us feeling scattered and fragmented.

Routines are important during this time as well. Consistent times to go to sleep and to awake are important. Eating on a regular schedule is as well.


And as the days become shorter, honoring our desire to cozy up next to the fireplacewill create a solid foundation for health.Rather than push to get things done and keep in constant motion, opt for nourishing your self. Self-care often begins with quieting our bodies so that our minds can also be still. This practice rejuvenates us in body, mind, and soul. More on that in our next blog.


Chocolate Chip Muffins


3 flax eggs

7.5 tbsp water

2 cups pumpkin puree

1 1/2 cups maple syrup

1 1/2 tbsp vanilla extract

1/2 cup coconut oil, melted

3 tbsp flaxseed meal


3 cups garbanzo bean or oat flour

1 tsp each of clove, allspice & ginger

1 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

1 1/2 cups Almond meal

1 1/2 cups chocolate chips



Mix wet ingredients in a small bowl.  Then mix dry ingredients in another. Then blend the two mixtures together. Bake 350 degrees for45-50 minutes in lightly oiled muffin pans.



When it comes to facilitating a retreat, there are a lot of factors to consider. Planning a retreat requires we think about what we want first. If you’re not happy and content, then it’s likely the participants of your retreat will not be either.



Location, Location, Location



Your first consideration should be the location. If you’re drawn to the beach, you might not want to head to the mountains. And if you abhor the city, then a quieter abode for your retreat should be top on your list.


Nestled at the base of Pikes Peak in the eclectic mountain town of Manitou Springs, the atmosphere of SunMountain has been intentionally created to be warm and welcoming.