Colorado Springs Adventures

Hi friends! I’m on my way back to DC from Colorado after a great long weekend full of learning and outdoorsy adventures. As you know, I was there for SCAN’s annual symposium; SCAN (sports, cardiovascular, and wellness nutrition) is a practice group within the Academy of Nutrition & Dietetics.

SCAN 2015 colorado springs

Going to conferences like these is always a great way to learn the latest in nutrition research, network with fellow RDs, and rack up some continuing education credits. This year’s conference was held at the beautiful Cheyenne Mountain Resort in Colorado Springs. Check out these views!

SCAN 2015 colorado springs hotel

I was especially excited about this conference not only because the sessions were really relevant for the work I do in my AnneTheRD private practice, but also because two of my best friends from grad school, Elle and Lauren, were also attending. :)

SCAN conference 2015

Lauren is from Colorado Springs, so we were lucky enough to all stay with her family for the weekend. We were at the conference all day on Friday and Saturday and until about 1 pm. on Sunday, but we all stayed on a little longer so we’d have some time to enjoy beautiful Colorado Springs and each other’s company for a little while longer. :)

Considering we did a lot of learning/conference stuff, we also made time to fit in a ton of fun outdoorsy adventures, too! Here are some of the highlights from the long weekend. As for the conference itself, I’m thinking of doing some themed nutrition posts related to some of the best sessions I attended – stay tuned!

Dinner at Adam’s Mountain Café

adams mountain cafe colorado springs

On Friday night, Lauren’s parents very kindly treated the three of us to dinner at Adam’s Mountain Café, a restaurant that prides itself on “slow food”, encouraging diners to rediscover the flavor of local food. I had a starter salad followed by the Brazilian Style Barramundi, which was amazing! It was baked in a red bell pepper, onion, jalapeno, garlic, coconut milk, tomato, and fresh lime sauce and served with saffron rice and black beans. So good!

adams mountain cafe colorado springs dinner

Running at Palmer Park

On Saturday morning, before racing off to the conference, the girls and I got up early and headed over to Palmer Park to get in a run before sitting all day. It was gorgeous, and it felt great to move after traveling all morning and then sitting in the conference all day on Friday.




Watching a Professional Bull Riding Competition!

Lauren’s dad surprised the three of us with tickets to go see the professional bull riding competition going on on Saturday night in Colorado Springs. It was such a fun night and we had a blast – I can definitely say I’ve never seen bull riding before! Such a unique experience!


I was super nervous for the riders, though – glad to see some of them were wearing helmets instead of just cowboy hats! Yikes!


Hiking the Famous Manitou Incline

The Manitou Incline is a popular hiking challenge for visitors to Colorado Springs. The trail is actually the remains of a former railway whose tracks washed out during a rock slide in the 90’s. The remaining tracks make a sort of really intense, steep staircase.


Gaining over 2,000 feet of elevation in less than one mile, and starting at the high altitude of 6,500 feet at the base (you end at 8,590 feet), this hike is no joke.

I have been hearing about the Incline from Lauren for awhile now, and a ton of my Instagram followers recommended it, too, so I was really excited to give it a shot! We headed over on Sunday afternoon after the conference ended.


Within about 30 seconds, my heart was POUNDING – this was going to be legit! Tons of steep stairs + high altitude = whoa.


We went up and up and up and up and up



We took breaks every so often to catch our breath and check out the beautiful views. We were getting quite high up!


Lauren had warned me ahead of time that there was a “fakeout” summit – when you are about 2/3 of the way up, you see an area ahead that looks like the summit, but nope! It’s not. When you come over the top, you see this. Darnit!


But luckily once we made it there there wasn’t TOO much left. You guys know I like a challenge so I weirdly enjoyed this, anyway, even though it was tough. ;) The views definitely helped!



Whew! If you visit Colorado Springs, the Incline is a must-do. Tough but fun! We finished in around 55 minutes. Lauren said the fastest she has ever done it is in just under 30 minutes. Whoa!

Once at the top, you can either go back down the stairs (not so fun, but faster since it’s less than a mile), or hike down a nice trail instead that is about 4 miles due to a lot of switchbacks. We opted for the trail, and we met up with Elle once on it (she decided to stick with the trail on the way up, too). If you take this trail up instead of down, it takes you to Pikes Peak!

pikes peak hike

It was supposed to storm on Sunday afternoon when we were doing this, but we got lucky – it was nice and cloudy while we were hiking up the Incline, and then got a little sunny on the way down – perfect!



The views were spectacular – this doesn’t really do it justice!



Such a fun way to spend an afternoon – we were EXHAUSTED after it, though! Whew!

Trail Running at Red Rock Canyon

On Monday morning, we slept in a little since the conference was over and then headed out to Red Rock Canyon to do some trail running!




Once again, storms loomed but we got lucky and the rain held off. What did not hold off, however, was the mud! One part at the beginning of the trail was insanely muddy due to the recent rain – our feet were about 100 pounds by the end of it!



Luckily the rest of the trail was fine or it would have been quite a slow run. ;)


Due to the mud and all the hills, our run turned into a run/walk, though, which we were fine with. Made it easier to appreciate the stunning views!



Man, I love Colorado. Every time I visit I wonder why I don’t live here…


We ran/walked about 6 miles and by the time we were done we were STARVED! Time for food – we went to a cute place nearby called Garden of the Gods Gourmet.


I started with a beet/kale/cucumber/apple/celery/carrots/lemon/ginger juice that was delicious.


As for lunch, I was really craving meat after that run! I had the burger and added bacon and white cheddar cheese. It was SO GOOD. Plus a side of kale salad for good measure. :)


Exploring Garden of the Gods

Speaking of Garden of the Gods, we went and strolled around it after our lunch since we were so close by!



It was stunning – love those red rocks!

garden of the gods colorado springs

Elle headed to the airport yesterday afternoon after our adventures, and last night, I was able to see some of my cousins who live in Colorado Springs. This morning, Lauren and I got in a rainy run in her neighborhood before sadly saying goodbye and headed off to our respective flights home.

We were all sad the trip came to a close so quickly! The conference was great and I learned a lot, but of course the real highlight of the weekend was getting to spend some quality time with two of my best friends. I miss them already! <3 Until next time, ladies!

garden of the gods hike

Have you ever been to Colorado Springs?

What’s the most intense hike you’ve ever done? The Manitou Incline definitely takes the cake for me now!


  1. 1

    Gorgeous pics! Quite the adventurous and active trip! I feel kind of dizzy just looking at you at the top of those “stairs” :)

  2. 2

    It looks like you had an amazing time! I have always wanted to ride in a hot air balloon! All that food looks yummy!

  3. 3

    that incline hike looks like a challenge for sure! what a fun and beautiful trip with your girls. excited to read your nutrition posts from the conference.

  4. 4
    Nicole Olson says

    What a fun trip! I went to Colorado a few years back with my family but we missed out on the Manitou Incline. This past winter I headed out to Arizona where I experienced the most intense hike I have encountered- climbing up Camelback Mountain. It was tough, but that elevation in Colorado sounds like it was difficult to contend with! Looking forward to more posts about the conference :)

  5. 5
    Catherine Cormier says

    Manitou Incline looks quite similar to Koko Head Crater on Oahu. My husband and I went on a sunrise hike there a few years ago. It was a super intense climb and the whole hike up it was dark with just head lamps on!! I said to my husband that it was a good thing it was dark going up because I couldn’t see what was in front of me or I likely would have chickened out!!

    Getting to the top was so fun and seeing the su rise over all the islands what one of the coolest moments in my life. It was a difficult hike but I’d do it again in a heartbeat :)

    Colorado is on my bucket list to visit one of these days!

  6. 7

    oh my gosh that hike sounds amazing! and you’re such a tease; i cannot wait to hear about the conference!!

  7. 8

    wow what amazing views! I love trips that have a lot of fun activities. My bf and I have a bucket list of all the different hiking trails we want to do. I think I’m going to have to add this one now!

  8. 9

    I’ve never been to Colorado Springs but it looks gorgeous! So fun that you were able to combine an RD conference with seeing your friends – beenfits of working in the same field!

  9. 10

    Kings Canyon in Australia during a 3 day trek. Woa!

  10. 12

    A few years ago when I was in Colorado (such a gorgeous state!!!), we did like a one mile hike and at the top I took my heartrate and it was almost 200! I’m in good shape so that altitude really did me in- that incline looks awesome but I might need an inhaler for it! Cant wait to hear about the conference too, I wanted to go!

  11. 14

    It sounds like you had such an incredible time! Your pictures are stunning and that hike sounds so cool – intense, but worth it! :)

  12. 15

    I’ve been to Denver but not Colorado Springs.
    I have two little girls (1 and 3) and I think Colorado is going to by my husband and my first trip away from them. Any ideas on the best time of year to visit?
    Also, that picture with the hot air balloon is AMAZING!

    • 16

      I’m not sure on best time of year, but if you want to do hiking vs. snow/skiing activities, go in late spring, summer, or early fall!

  13. 17

    Such awesome views! I would love to climb that incline. Whenever I visit Santa Monica I always try and fit in the stairs they have there that are pretty well known. That incline blows that out of the water though!

  14. 18

    My second marathon was in Colorado Springs. It was called the American Discovery Trail marathon — it’s a point-to-point downhill trail race. I loved it! Amazing views and worth the altitude challenge :). Looks like you had a beautiful time exploring out west!

  15. 20

    Looks like you had a lovely conference! I’m visiting Colorado Springs this summer, and I’ll have to check out the Incline. So glad you got to spend time with your besties!

  16. 21

    I look forward to learning about the sessions you attended. Colorado looks beautiful!

  17. 22

    The first time I did the incline we hopped out at the “Fake summit” and took the trail for a little run down. The second time there’s NO FREAKING WAY Mike would’ve let me get away with that. Ugh. But the view from the top is totallly worth it ;)

  18. 24

    I live in the Springs and was on the Incline Sunday afternoon too! Such a great workout. I moved from DC about 2 years ago and have definitely found the Springs to be a great place for outdoor stuff. Hard to have a bad day with beautiful mountains all around!

  19. 26

    Beautiful pictures! I love Colorado and adored all the hiking and exploring Garden of the Gods when I was there. It makes me wish I lived there too! Looking forward to hearing about the conference and would enjoy the nutrition-related posts.

  20. 27

    Toughest hike? Mount Washington tops my list, thus far. Spent a couple of days hiking during the July 1/4 holiday weekend with eight friends. An eight-hour hike up one trail, which began in full-on tank top sunshine and ended in a hail/rain storm to the summit, via some pretty steep pitches and gorgeous vistas. At one point, we were belly-shimmying up a rock, too ignorant to realise what we were doing! From the summit, which is home to a significant weather station, we hiked down a tad to the huts at the Lake of the Clouds, where we spent the night. We were pooped and elated and, yes, we swam in the spring-fed lake – it was magical. After dinner in the communal dining hall, we attended a guided nature walk, watched the sun set from our mountain perch and hit the hay. The huts are fully eco and are run by students who did everything from cooking our meals (they accommodated me as a GF Vegan) to entertaining us with a variety show to waking us to the sound of a violin, playing in the hallway. It was magical – from bottom to top and back to the bottom. Reservations are required and must be made one year in advance.

  21. 29

    I grew up in Colorado Springs and seeing your pictures really makes me miss it! I actually lived several blocks from Palmer Park! Colorado Springs has to be the most gorgeous place on the face of the earth. I’m so glad you got to experience it! How did that altitude affect your running? Seems like that would be a hard transition.

  22. 31

    My husband is a med student, and we’ve been looking at potential residency programs lately. Your pictures are making me root for the University of Colorado program! The scenery looks gorgeous, and it seems like such a healthy, active place. Thanks for sharing!

  23. 32
    Roadrunner says

    Wow, an awesome trip! Nothing like Colorado. Have been to C-Springs and love each visit. Great place to run, hike, and all the rest. Well done!

  24. 33
    Lauren K says

    Just read this post for probably the 10th time — makes me smile every time! It was such a wonderful weekend: great conference, good times with you girls, and it was so special that I could show you my home town and that you guys fit in so well with my family :) Can’t wait for SCAN 2016 in Portland! Good thing Elle already blocked off our calendar for us!

    • 34

      Yay! Missing you both (and your fam – they are awesome!) – although I can’t say I’m sad we missed the random Colorado snow last week!

  25. 35

    Great recap of the SCAN symposium. It was great to see you there! We also went to the Garden of the Gods, it was amazing!

    • 36

      Great meeting you! Thank you for an informative presentation! Hope to see you around DC — would love to meet up sometime. :)


  1. […] Hey friends! I’m officially back in DC after a whirlwind long weekend out west! (If you missed my recap, check it out: Colorado Springs Adventures.) […]

  2. […] get in a long run this weekend, especially since I blew off last weekend’s long run in favor of shorter runs and hiking in Colorado Springs. That said, I didn’t want to have to worry about it this weekend, so early it was! This way I can […]

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