This route is a tour of the recently created Staunton State Park. The park offers immaculate, well-constructed singletrack trails that cater primarily to mountain bikes but are a worthwhile detour for trail runners when they feel the need for speed or for hikers looking for an easy, smooth loop option. The park offers views of waterfalls, sweeping valleys, Mt. Evans, large rock formations, wildlife, and aspen groves. The trails are extremely well marked with names, directions, and mileage. Half-way point signs are even posted on all trails. Be prepared to share the trail with numerous mountain bikers and a few other hikers close to the trailheads.
Park is open every day, and hours vary by season. $9 entry fee for day use.
New trails are being put in and existing ones are being changed at a rapid rate and are sometimes not reflected in the park maps. For up to date trail directions and information about new construction ask the park rangers, they are extraordinarily friendly and willing to help (seriously the most friendly park staff I've ever met by far).
Trailhead parking is abundant on week days, but will fill up before 9 am on summer weekends.
After entering the park, continue straight until the road dead ends at the Staunton Ranch Trailhead. The trailhead has bathrooms, potable water, and a picnic area.
From the trailhead, start out uphill onto the Staunton Ranch Trail
and take this trail until its termination (2.8 miles) at a four-way intersection. You'll pass climber's access and hiker's only trails, but follow the signs to stay on SR trail. At the 4-way intersection, follow signs to turn left and uphill onto the Marmot Passage Trail
Follow this trail uphill .5 miles and stay right at the intersection with the Scout Line Trail
. Continue uphill for another mile and then enjoy another mile of smooth, well-groomed downhill to Elk Falls Pond (2.5 miles total). Upon reaching Elk Falls Pond, loop around the lake in the CCW direction and follow signs for the Lion's Back Trail
. After 100m on this fire road turn left and follow signs onto Chimney Rock Trail
. This beautiful trail has a slight downhill for a half mile then turns uphill for the remaining mile before meeting back with Lion's Back Trail
At the intersection with Lion's Back Trail
, take a left and follow signs to Elk Falls Overlook. After taking in the views of Elk Falls in the valley below, continue back down Lions Back Trail and follow it until it's completion at Elk Falls Pond (1 mile). At the three-way intersection on the north side of the lake, make a left and follow signs onto Bugling Elk Trail
Follow this service road through a scenic meadow until its termination at the same 4-way intersection you visited earlier in the hike (1.1 miles). At the intersection, take an immediate left and follow signs to the Border Line Trail
. The trail follows switchbacks uphill for a mile and a half until you reach Staunton Rocks Overlook. After visiting the overlook continue on Border Line Trail
for another mile until you reach the Old Mill Site and cross a few streams (2.5 miles). At this three-way intersection, continue left/uphill and follow signs onto Mason Creek Trail
Mason Creek Trail
is the most fun section of this hike. You'll continue uphill, crossing creeks and frolicking through aspen groves. for about one and a half miles. From here, it's all downhill to the finish so enjoy, but be careful because this trail is very popular, and you'll likely be sharing the path with other visitors. Continue downhill for 3ish miles and take a right at the first intersection, following signs to the parking lot (4.5miles). Follow a short connector trail to the parking lot, completing a full loop of Staunton State Park.
I did not include it in this hike, but seriously consider a .5 mile RT journey to Elk Falls. This newly built trail is on no park maps yet but is an offshoot of Chimney Rock Trail
. The trail is very steep but worthwhile so see the falls up close.
Large aspen groves in the eastern portion of the park.