Elk Falls

Elk Falls

Staunton State Park, one of Colorado's newest, has miles of trails, creeks, ponds, historic ranch buildings, rock climbing, a waterfall and great, great views. I've written about hiking various trails there over the years since the park opened, in 2015, 20162018, and 2019 (slideshow that accompanies the 2019 article here).

The challenge with the park, however, has been that some of the most attractive destinations, such as Lions Head, Elk Falls and Elk Pond, are pretty long hikes. With the entrance to the park, and its original trailhead being at its far east side, and these destinations at its west side, even the most direct route to Lions Head would be a hike of more than 11 miles round trip. But that wasn't the most scenic route, so if you wanted to catch some impressive sights along the way, your hike could be several miles longer.

Earlier this year, the park added the Lazy V trailhead, about 2 miles further into the park than the original trailhead. Now, the shortest distance to Elk Falls is around 7.5 miles round trip, which you can see here. But if you take the easy, direct route, you will miss out on some great views, so instead, try this route. It's longer, at about 9 miles round trip, and also much more difficult, especially the Scout Line Trail. The views, however, make it worthwhile.  

If the thought of a lot of uphill both on the outbound and return legs of the hike doesn't sound too enticing, you can split the difference, by combining both routes into an approximately 8-mile loop, as shown here.

Things You Need to Know: Entry fees do apply. Leashed dogs are allowed. The Lazy V Trailhead has ample parking and also informational kiosks and bathroom facilities, however no water. Bring it with you or stop at the visitors center at the park entrance to get water. Even though the new trailhead drastically cuts the distance for the hike to Elk Falls, it is still at least 7.5 miles round trip, so not a short hike. Much of the hike is in the open, and can be very hot in the summer. There are, of course, many other options available to both the falls and other destinations in the park. While the maps available on the park website and at the gate show the Lazy V trailhead and a couple of new trails that go into the adjoining national forest, COTREX still does not have the trailhead or some trails. For reference and your planning purposes, the Lazy V is a few hundred feet from the intersection of the Staunton Ranch, Scout Line and Old Mill trails. I have e-mailed both CPW and the park to find out when they will be added to COTREX, but have not received a reply.

Lions Head

View of Lions Head from the Scout Line Trail. Although a difficult trail, views like this make it worthwhile.

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. Give yourself at least 2 hours (each way) for the drive.

Be Good. Do Good Things. Leave No Trace.

Follow Hiking Bob on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc. to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.