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Paint Mines Park

Easy/Intermediate
 4.2 (20) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

This 750 acre park features geological formations including spires, chasms, and gullies.


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Map Key

4.3

Miles

6.8

KM

Loop

6,762' 2,061 m

High

6,569' 2,002 m

Low

383' 117 m

Up

382' 116 m

Down

3%

Avg Grade (2°)

9%

Max Grade (5°)

Dogs No Dogs

Features Birding · Cave · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Overview

Paint Mines Park is located in the high plains near Calhan, Colorado. The 750 acre park features geological formations including spires, chasms, overhangs, and carved walls that were formed through erosion that created gullies and exposed layers of clay and jasper. Oxidization of iron deposits created the colorful clays, which range from light yellow to deep red.

Need to Know

There are portable toilets at the trailhead.

Description

From either trailhead the best approach is to head for the west side of the park as this is where 90% of the rock formations are located that make this park distinct.

Taking the loop from Paint Mines Rd trailhead, the trail initially heads east and curves to the south. Once heading south you'll have views into the valley and a bench to soak it all in. The trail then descends into valley with white carved walls and spires immediately to the west.

Shortly after the white spires you'll approach a trail junction. Take the trail to the right (south), which leads deeper into the gully area. There are many beautiful dead-end spurs that take you closer to the formations. This is a great place to take your time and explore all of these side trails. The canyons here range in color from deep reds, to yellows, to white.

The main trail continues east and gradually climbs out of the gully. There are more formations to the north before leveling out on grasslands. From here the trail continues east to a junction with a second trailhead. Take the left trail northwest over vast rolling grasslands to continue the loop. The trail widens here and provides views of Pikes Peak far off to the west along with a bench on top of a slight rise.

There are a couple of smaller formations to the south as you continue to the southwest. Eventually you'll come back to the original trail junction. Head straight (west) to get back to the trailhead.

Flora & Fauna

Throughout this park you'll encounter Colorado grasslands, prairie, badlands, and wetlands. Coyote, mule deer, song birds, falcons, and hawks are frequently sighted.

History & Background

Archeological evidence shows this site was used for thousands of years.The rich color of the clays was used for ceremonial decorations as well as pottery making. Buffalo were herded into the dead end gullies to make them easier to hunt.

Contacts

Land Manager: El Paso County Parks

Shared By:

Mike Langenkamp

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 20 votes

#946

Overall
  4.2 from 20 votes
5 Star
30%
4 Star
55%
3 Star
15%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#175

in Colorado

#946

Overall
112 Views Last Month
3,115 Since Feb 27, 2015
Easy/Intermediate

32%
0%
64%
0%
5%
0%

Photos

Some of Paint Mines finest.
Mar 4, 2015 near Ellicott, CO
Spires and walls with their protective caps
Feb 27, 2015 near Ellicott, CO
An awesome painted spire.
Mar 4, 2015 near Ellicott, CO
West side of Paint Mines Park
Feb 27, 2015 near Ellicott, CO
Interesting ice formations along the trail
Feb 27, 2015 near Ellicott, CO
Painted rock!
Mar 4, 2015 near Ellicott, CO

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Check-Ins

Jun 28, 2020
Erin Watkins
Apr 18, 2020
Amy Navvab
Sunrise is worth it 4.3mi
Apr 9, 2020
Matthew McCarthy
Mar 21, 2020
Chris Rice
Jan 11, 2020
Mark Andersen
Jan 11, 2020
Erin Andersen
Stopped to take pics of the formations. What a great place to see! 4.5mi — 1h 47m
Jan 4, 2020
Robert Post
Great day for an open plains hike. Little wind, mostly sunny. 4.8mi — 2h 25m
Oct 13, 2019
Mike Sanders