Overlooking North Cheyenne Canyon
in the Pike National Forest, Kineo Mountain
offers some of the best views that can be found close to Colorado Springs, and is a destination many aren’t aware of.
Any hike I take has to have a pay-off: A good work out, unusual land features, secret locations, or, as in the case of Kineo Mountain, a really great view. At 9470 feet, the rocky summit isn’t the highest peak in the area, but it's situated in a way that the view down Cheyenne Canon, the nearby Buckhorn and Mays Peaks, Cheyenne Mountain, the Tenney Crags and parts of Gold Camp Road make for a great payoff. Although Kineo Mountain is shown on maps, the trail to the summit is shown on almost none. It takes a little effort to get there, and
a GPS will be helpful to find your way.
The best route is by way of the popular Seven Bridges (622) trail
— which starts off of the section of Gold Camp Road that is closed to car and truck traffic. After taking the easy hike to the 7th bridge, the trail becomes a little more difficult and can be a bit dicey in bad weather.
Immediately after the 7th bridge, trail 622 turns sharply up hill. Do not take the obvious trail that hugs the creekside. From here on you’ll be putting more vertical distance between you and North Cheyenne Canon Creek. Some parts of the trail are rocky and there's a section where you will be traversing a steep hillside of slick ground up Pikes Peak granite (skree). After the steep traverse, you’ll enter a wooded section and the trail will curve to the right. There are some side trails that cross the creek but keep the creek to your left at all times to stay on route to the summit. The trail will parallel the creek before curving to the edge of a large grove of aspen trees. Turn right at the intersection with trail 622A and continue up the short hill, skirting the west side of the aspen grove. There is no signage at the 622A intersection but you can't miss it.
Here’s where it gets tricky. At the top of the hill there are a number of large, downed trees. Look east for a very faint trail through the trees. The turn off of 622A may also be marked by some downed trees that lay along the sides of the trail, as though to line the path. However, they also maybe moved or hidden by snow, so don't rely on them
If you have a GPS, you can enter coordinates N 38° 47.398' W 104° 56.294' which mark the trail. Continue on the same trail, which becomes more visible as you go — it's also marked in some places by some rock cairns. The trail will loop around the south side of a small knoll before a short, steep uphill section opens up to a small, skree-covered saddle.
The views from the this saddle are great,
but you’re not quite there: Go up the hill to the right to a trail that continues east. After a little more than a tenth of a mile, you'll see some boulders just to the right of the trail. This is the summit. Take the easy scramble to the top of the rocks for a sensational view.
When you’re done being wow’d return the same way.
To get there: Take North Cheyenne Cañon Road through North Cheyenne Cañon Park, past the Helen Hunt Falls Visitor center, to the large parking lot where the paved road meets the dirt Gold Camp Road. The trail starts at the gate on the west side of the lot on Gold Camp Road. Walk for approximately .6 miles to where the road crosses North Cheyenne Canyon Creek and look for the trail markers on the right.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 23 years. He is the president of the Friends of Cheyenne Canon and a member of the El Paso County Parks Advisory Board. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: firstname.lastname@example.org.