Saturday, September 13, 2014

Hiking Along Old Stage Road

Posted By on Sat, Sep 13, 2014 at 2:01 AM

click to enlarge View of Colorado Springs from the top of Mt. Rosa. - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • View of Colorado Springs from the top of Mt. Rosa.
Old Stage Road, closed for repairs to all but residents and property owners after last year’s heavy rains, was recently opened on weekends to all users — with the anticipation that it will soon open without restrictions. The closure cut off access to many great trails but now that it’s open again, here are a few of my favorites. (All mileages are approximate and measured from the gate on Old Stage Road, where it becomes a dirt road.)

MacNeil Trail: Travel Old Stage Road for 4.9 miles until you come to a small hill and then a fork in the road at the Broadmoor Riding Stables. Park at the wide spot on the right side of the road, then walk to the top of the hill and look for a faint trail behind the “Stage Stop” sign. Scramble up the dirt berm and look for the trail on your left (not the more obvious trail on the right). This easy, mostly flat trail runs around the west side of Cheyenne Mountain for a few miles until it starts uphill to the “Horns.” Note that the trail may be closed as you get close to the Horns. If so, please respect the wishes of private-property owners.

Grey Back Peak: At 5.3 miles from the gate, turn left onto Forest Road 371 (also marked with a sign for Emerald Valley Ranch). Continue for approximately 1/4 mile and look for a small parking area on the left side of the road at the top of a small rise. You’ll see the trail going uphill from the south end of the parking area. The moderate trail continues to the top of 9350-foot Grey Back Peak and offers views to rarely seen areas south of Gold Camp Road.

Gold Camp Road: Six miles from the gate, Old Stage Road becomes Gold Camp Road. Turn to the right and go a few hundred feet to a parking area. This section of Gold Camp Road goes to North Cheyenne Cañon and is closed to car traffic, but is open to other uses. The trail offers great views to the east, including downtown Colorado Springs and Cheyenne Mountain.

St. Peters Dome: A little further up Gold Camp Road (6.8 miles from the gate) is the old Duffield train stop, a great scenic overlook with plenty of parking. As you’re looking out over the Springs, the rocky outcropping to your left is St. Peters Dome. The trail starts to the left of the parking area and is an easy/moderate hike to the top of the “dome” with awesome views. St. Peters Dome seems to attract lightning, so be careful if the weather is threatening.

Mt. Rosa: One of the most prominent peaks visible from Colorado Springs, Mt. Rosa offers great 360-degree views of a large swath of the surrounding area, to include the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, the Spanish Peaks and more. At 11.5 miles, look for Forest Road 379 on the right side of the road. FR 379 isn’t suitable for cars or other low-clearance vehicles, but I’m able to easily drive it with my mostly stock Jeep. (If you elect not to drive up Road 379, there is plenty of parking nearby.) Travel 1.5 miles up 379 until you get to Frosty’s Park and the trailhead. Look for an opening in the fence and follow the remnants of an old road for approximately 1/3 of a mile to Trail 672 and turn right. Continue on 672 on the uphill and mostly forested trail until you get to a small saddle. Look for a marker indicating Trail 672 and another marker for an uphill trail that reads, “No Motorized Vehicles.” Turn onto the unnumbered trail, following the cairns until you arrive at the summit of Mt. Rosa (approximately 11,500 feet).

This is a somewhat strenuous hike (makes a good Incline alternative), but the views more than make up for the hard work. Approximately 4 1/3 miles round trip from Frosty’s Park, add another 3 miles to your round trip if you hike 379 instead of driving to the trailhead.

There are many more trails on Old Stage and Gold Camp roads, so explore while you’re there. These roads can be very washboard-y, and have lots of jarring potholes, so travel with care, but with the change of fall colors coming fast upon us, the drive and hikes make for some great viewing.
click to enlarge Grey Back Peak Trailhead - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Grey Back Peak Trailhead
click to enlarge MacNeil trail and parking
  • Bob Falcone
  • MacNeil trail and parking
click to enlarge Mt Rosa trailhead at Frosty's Peak
  • Bob Falcone
  • Mt Rosa trailhead at Frosty's Peak

click to enlarge Mt Rosa trail from 672
  • Bob Falcone
  • Mt Rosa trail from 672
Bob Falcone is a firefighter, arson investigator, nonprofit board president, college instructor, photographer, hiker and small business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for 23 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). Email questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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