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A hike with creeks, bridges, scree slopes, forested paths, summit to Mount Rosa, then finishing with St. Mary Falls.


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Map Key

14.8

Miles

23.8

KM

Loop

11,349' 3,459 m

High

7,530' 2,295 m

Low

3,981' 1,213 m

Up

3,983' 1,214 m

Down

10%

Avg Grade (6°)

54%

Max Grade (29°)

Dogs Off-leash

Features Birding · Commonly Backpacked · Fall Colors · River/Creek · Spring · Views · Waterfall · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly Teens or boot families (experienced hikers) would enjoy this trail. Probably best doing it in two days.

Camping is permitted at undeveloped sites along parts of this trail. Camping is recommended 300' away from any trail or stream. Use no-impact camping techniques. Campfire permits are not required, but please be sure your fire is dead out before you leave. Pack it in / Pack it out.

No ATVs. Motorcycles are allowed on parts of trail, so motorcycles and hikers need to be considerate of each other.

Permits are required to remove firewood, rocks and minerals, transplants and decorative wood.

Overview

Park at High Drive and Gold Camp Rd. Head down Gold Camp Rd. to 7 Bridges Trail (#622). Next take Pipeline Trail (#668) to Foresters Trail (#701). Foresters Trail (#701) will connect to Nelson's Trail (#672) and out to Mount Rosa (#673). Mount Rosa (#673) is an out and back to the summit. Continue on Nelson's Trail (#672) toward FSR 381, turn right for St. Mary Falls Trail (#624). It is unmarked, so look for fence posts on left side. Take the St. Mary Falls Spur Trail out to the falls and back. Then head on down St. Mary Falls Trail (#624) toward Gold Camp Rd. and toward the parking lot.

Need to Know

Drinking water is not readily available. Water from streams should be treated before use. Hikers are advised to carry an adequate supply.

Some very steep, loose areas.

Description

This is an ambitious day hike for a body blitz, or divide this into two gratifying shorter day hikes. Camping is allowed along most of the trail.

Park at High Drive and Gold Camp Rd. Head down Gold Camp Rd. to the 7 Bridges Trail (#622). Enjoy the easygoing path along the creek and across the beautifully crafted bridges. After the 7th bridge, comes a small scramble up to a scree field with some fantastic views of Kineo Mountain, as well as down into the channel of North Cheyenne Creek.

From the end of 7 Bridges Trail (#622), the Pipeline Trail (#668) will continue along the ridgeline for a stretch then cross North Cheyenne Creek.

From here, the wildflower-lined path is an easy ramble along and across the creek. After several stream pass overs, the trail steepens and the climb becomes more demanding, but the splendor of the cascades of the creek make the incline seem less strenuous. At long last, the final passage of the trail travels through the forest until it meets Foresters Trail (#701).

Take Foresters Trail (#701) to the left. This portion of Foresters Trail (#701) is a relatively uneventful doubletrack. After about .33 miles, Foresters Trail (#701) ends at the junction of FSR 379. Hike from Foresters Trail (#701) and to the left several feet along FSR 379 (small parking area) and find the trailhead for Nelson's Trail (#672).

Foresters Trail (#701) connects to Nelson's Trail (#672) . Nelson's Trail (#672) is densely forested, but heavy with roots, rocks and ruts. The incline is steep and rises relatively quick. This is an advanced trail with very little water resources.

At about 1.3 mi on Nelson's Trail (#672) is the trailhead for Mount Rosa (#673). Mount Rosa (#673) heads up to the summit of Mount Rosa (11499 ft.). Mount Rosa (#673) is an outstanding out and back with great views.

After summiting Mount Rosa, continue down Nelson's Trail (#672) toward FSR 381. Upon reaching FSR 381, head to the right to find the St. Mary Falls Trail (#624). This trailhead is unmarked, so look for the fencing on the left side of the open area.

Once on St. Mary Falls Trail (#624), you'll start to descend quickly until you reach a flowing spring. This is a good water resource if in need. Please filter! After crossing the spring, the trail evens out for about a mile along the ridgeline. Again, the trail will have a steep slope toward the falls.

Upon reaching the signpost, take St. Mary Falls Spur Trail out to St. Mary Falls. This is a great photo op or place to rest. From the falls, the trail descends gradually and is a moderate ramble alongside Buffalo Canyon Creek to Gold Camp Rd. and the parking lot.

Flora & Fauna

Columbines, primrose, yarrow, Indian paintbrush, Aspen stands, mixed pine, grasses. Birds and snakes.

History & Background

Frank Nelson (1857 -1944) came to Colorado from Denmark in 1906 and is widely credited with having built the 7 Bridges Trail (#622) in (1906). Nelson prospected while operating Nelson's Resorts (Nelson Camp) from 1906-1931. Tourists would travel from the Gold Camp Road to several resort cabins along what is currently the Pipeline Trail (#668). Remains from the cabins as well as various nails, cans, and metal items are still present as of 2013.

Rose Georgina Kingsley was an early British settler of Colorado Springs. Rose was an author, teacher, avid botanist, hiker and mountain climber. While hiking and collecting flora in the area, she became cordial with the survey crew of Dr. Ferdinand V. Hayden. During this time, she became the first lady to climb to the summit of Monte Rosa, which was named in her honor by the crew. (Women Rewriting Boundaries: Victorian Women Travel Writers)

Contacts

Shared By:

K Keiter with improvements by Edward Potereiko

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 29 votes

#465

Overall
  4.4 from 29 votes
5 Star
52%
4 Star
38%
3 Star
7%
2 Star
3%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#96

in Colorado

#465

Overall
58 Views Last Month
11,898 Since Jul 3, 2015
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0%
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22%
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Photos

Bridge #7 in early October
Oct 11, 2019 near Manitou…, CO
Sangre de Cristo's from Summit of Mt. Rosa
Jun 20, 2015 near Manitou…, CO
The bottom of St. Mary Falls is often full of debris.
Jun 28, 2017 near Manitou…, CO
The fourth creek crossing is a bit wider and deeper. Careful footing along the bottom to avoid slipping is necessary.
Jul 12, 2017 near Manitou…, CO
Buffalo Canyon Creek rambles alongside the St. Mary Falls Trail (#624)
Jun 28, 2017 near Manitou…, CO
Enjoy a great view of Stove Mountain (9782 ft.) from St. Mary Falls Trail.
Jul 10, 2017 near Manitou…, CO
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Weather


Current Trail Conditions

All Clear 19 hours ago
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Check-Ins

Feb 1, 2024
Valerie Deneau
Hiked, Thu Feb 1st, CW direction, St Marys first, came down Seven Bridges.  Traction and gaiters were used and much appreciated.... Given the for… 15mi — 12h 06m
Aug 26, 2023
jen kammerer
Feb 25, 2023
Valerie Deneau
Microspikes and gaiters a must, snowshoes would have been helpful on the ridge to Mt Rosa. Knee to hip deep snow on the ridge. Snowshoes would ha… 13.3mi — 9h 26m
Dec 25, 2022
Vincent Franzen
Some patches of snow throughout the day. Push to the summit had spots of calf deep snow. Used traction device but probably could get by without it, 15.6mi — 4h 14m
Apr 10, 2021
Ben Wasser
I'm sure this would be a great trail, and sections were lovely. Unfortunately I was a bit ambitious on my timing. Above 10000 feet there was only snow 8mi — 9h 00m
Nov 21, 2020
Russ McGuire
Started the hike at 8am on Friday 11/20/20 and completed it in approximately 9 hours while hiking at a leisurely pace with a 30 minute lunch break…
Aug 23, 2020
Fabian Graff
Really great trail with stunning views. Somewhat balanced but really hard too with long steep climbs and lots of rocks from the middle all the way up 13.2mi
Jul 16, 2020
Rachel Jagielski
Didn't make it all the way to Mt. Rosa due to monsoon season early afternoon t-storm 14.6mi — 7h 01m
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