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Mount Rosa via Pipeline Trail

  4.4 ( 16 ) Favorite


14.7 mile 23.7 kilometer loop


Ascent: 4,197' 1,279 m
Descent: -4,192' -1,278 m
High: 11,408' 3,477 m
Low: 7,515' 2,290 m


Avg Grade: 11% (6°)
Max Grade: 59% (31°)


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Map Key

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

K Keiter

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

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.


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.


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)

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Aug 10, 2019
Lisette Shaw
Jun 1, 2019
Heidi Al-sahsah
Did this as an over night backpacking trip. Camped about 6 miles in of trail 672 in the flat area there. 13.5mi — 29h 00m
Aug 11, 2018
Joe Aguire
Jun 5, 2018
Aaron Tennies
Aug 26, 2017
Ryan Scott
Tough trail, very rough in a lot of spots, great view at the top 14.7mi
May 11, 2017
Scott Blair
Want a real challenge? Try this Trail backwards! Overall pretty lengthy and difficult for a semi-in-shape flat lander. Signage lacking on 2nd half. 14.3mi
Sep 14, 2016
Austin Ewert
Hard as hell! Leg cramps, still awesome. 16mi — 6h 00m
Aug 29, 2016
Heather Sokalski
8h 23m

Trail Ratings

  4.4 from 16 votes


  4.4 from 16 votes
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View of Rosemount-Penrose Reservoir from Mt. Rosa
Jun 20, 2015 near Manitou…, CO
Sangre de Cristo's from Summit of Mt. Rosa
Jun 20, 2015 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
The bottom of St. Mary Falls is often full of debris.
Jun 28, 2017 near Manitou…, CO
You'll receive a great view of Penrose-Rosemont Reservoir from the summit of Mount Rosa.
Jul 5, 2017 near Manitou…, CO
Buffalo Canyon Creek rambles alongside the St. Mary Falls Trail (#624)
Jun 28, 2017 near Manitou…, CO

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