Originally just a place for cattle ranching, before becoming a boom town during the Pikes Peak Gold Rush in the late 1800s, Cripple Creek is a town steeped in Colorado history. In spite of several fires in the early 1900s that laid waste to much of the town, there are still many examples of early 1900s architecture, and the surrounding area is dotted with old mine shafts, barns and homesteads from that era. The area is also home to gently rolling hills, deep gulches and lots of well-known recreation opportunities.
Pony Gulch is an obscure tract of land southwest of Cripple Creek, that is managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. The trail into Pony Gulch is more of an old ranch road, and while an officially recognized trail, it has no name or trail number. The trail into Pony Gulch goes past a pond, old mines (stay on the trail) and an old homestead. Along the way there are stunning views and, in spring and summer, plenty of wildflowers.
To Get There: From Cripple Creek, take Bennett Avenue west through town until it ends at South C Street and turn left (south). Follow South C Street until it ends at a "T" intersection and turn right onto County Road 89. Follow CR 89 for about .8 miles and turn right onto Stratton Circle. Follow Stratton Circle for a half mile to Burns Drive. Park on the south side of Stratton Circle just past Burns Drive, and at the base of Lookout Point. Some published and online maps have the trail starting at the end of CR 89, however that access is gated and locked. Do not attempt to access from there, and instead follow these directions.
Things You Need to Know: This hike is about 5 miles round-trip. It is mostly easy/moderate, however the return leg of the hike has a long uphill stretch on a primitive trail. There are open mine shafts near the trail, so stay on the trail and don't allow kids or pets to wander off. The trail is open to all but motorized use. The first .85 or so miles of the hike are steep and run through a narrow gulch that requires the ability to locate and follow rock cairns, plus good wayfinding capabilities in case the cairns are missing. There is no water or any restroom facility on this hike.
Be Good. Do Good Things.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for almost 28 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc. to Bob: email@example.com.