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Hiking in the new Staunton State Park, and skipping the Peak shuttles this summer 

click to enlarge The view to the west from the Eagle Cliffs Overlook on the Bear Paw trail - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • The view to the west from the Eagle Cliffs Overlook on the Bear Paw trail
Staunton State Park, Colorado's newest state park, is worthy of the hour or so it takes to get there from Colorado Springs. I first wrote about it a few years ago and have returned a few times since.

On my most recent trip, some friends and I made a 9.25-mile loop consisting of the Mason Creek, Bear Paw, Old Mill and Staunton Ranch Trails. The trails are well-built and signed, and in great shape. The Bear Paw trail, with three overlooks offering great views of Pikes Peak and of the surrounding area south and west, was a particular group favorite — along with an old saw mill located at the intersection of the Old Mill and Mason Creek trails. As a bonus, dogs are allowed on trails in the park if kept on a leash.
click to enlarge A small waterfall along the Mason Creek Trail - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • A small waterfall along the Mason Creek Trail

The park is expanding its amenities with 25 backcountry (tent) campsites expected to be completed by July 1st, according to an email from Travis Duncan of Colorado Parks and Wildlife. Reservations for the campsites are expected to be open on June 1st at cpwshop.com, or 1-800-244-5613.

Duncan says construction of a 5,000 square-foot building that will be home to a visitors center, staff offices and more is expected to be completed by the end of 2018. Since I first wrote about the park, the West Meadow Trail; the Elk Falls Trail, which leads to the base of Elk Falls, and the Chase Meadows and Davis Ponds Trails have also been added.

If you haven't had a chance to visit Staunton yet, you should make a point to do so.

To get there: Take US 24 to Colorado Hwy 67 in Woodland Park. Go north on Hwy 67 to County Road 126 in Deckers and go west to US 285. Turn north on US 285 at Pine Junction and look for the well-marked exit on the right for Staunton State Park. The park entrance is about 1 mile west of US 285.

Skip the shuttles to play on Pikes Peak

Much ballyhoo has been made about the upcoming use of shuttles on the Pikes Peak Highway, with the word "mandatory" being thrown about pretty freely. However, the shuttle will be mandatory only for anyone wanting to go to the actual summit, or the final 3 miles of the highway, with exceptions for people needing handicapped parking, vehicles holding 10 or more and cars with children needing car seats.

But if you're planning on going to Crowe Gulch, the North Slope Recreation Area, Glen Cove, Elk Park or Devils Playground to indulge your outdoor recreation needs, you'll be able to drive and stop wherever you want — as long as you park in designated parking areas. See more at pikes-peak.com.

Happy Trails! Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for more than 26 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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