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blueBlack Chautauqua Trail

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2.3 mile 3.7 kilometer point to point


Ascent: 1,364' 416 m
Descent: -442' -135 m
High: 8,369' 2,551 m
Low: 7,230' 2,204 m


Avg Grade: 15% (8°)
Max Grade: 58% (30°)


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Trail shared by Scott Todd

This is a cool but challenging alternative ridge route for hikers who want to avoid the crowds on Balanced Rock Rd.

Scott Todd

Features River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife


This trail connects the Palmer Lake Reservoir Trailhead to Balanced Rock Rd. south of the upper reservoir. It tracks parallel to Balanced Rock Rd. along the ridge over Chautauqua Mountain.

Starting at the Palmer Lake Reservoir Trailhead, head directly south toward Monument Creek. This is an open area without a distinct trail, but once you get near the creek, you'll find a trail that tracks right alongside. There are several places where you could cross the creek, but the start of the Chautauqua Trail will be obvious if you cross at the right point. This is the only place where finding the trail is a bit of a challenge, but once you are on it, the trail is easy to follow.

Immediately after crossing Monument Creek, the trail ascends switchbacks for about 1/4 mile. This section can be slippery after rain or with snow, as there is more dirt in the soil and the trail is steep. The rest of this trail is in much better shape, but it is rocky. If you are out of breath after that first little climb, you might want to reconsider!

After a short segment that is mostly level, the trail climbs the ridge. There are a few places where you could get into trouble if you get off trail, so be careful in the snow. Stay on the right (ascending) side of the ridge and pay attention for switchbacks. The top of Chautauqua is at the one mile mark and offers fantastic views of Palmer Lake, Palmer Ridge, and the plains east of Monument.

From the summit, the trail simply tracks along the ridge southward. At several points, the trees open up and you have nice views of Limbaugh Canyon and a valley to the southeast. There are some short climbs and descents along the ridge and it weaves through some boulder outcroppings. At around mile 1.7, the trail has a couple of points that squeeze between boulders. Stay on the ridge!

At mile 2.3, the trail ends at Balanced Rock Rd. Turn right (north) to return to the parking lot.

Flora & Fauna

Black-eyed Susans, scarlet galea, bluebells, geraniums... the usual!


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Dec 17, 2018
Shan Yu
Dogs are prohibited.
Nov 14, 2018
Barb Mueller
Sep 30, 2018
Lindsey Myers
Challenging and beautiful. 6mi
Aug 26, 2018
David Orner
Aug 25, 2018
Nat Wolfe
Jul 12, 2018
Taylor Gilbertson
Steep start, hard to find the trailhead. Great views from the top of eastward and revisor below. Stayed on south side of lakes and did loop down rd 5mi
Jul 7, 2018
Molly C
Hiked from west TH off Balanced Rock Rd. Amazing views of boulder outcroppings & hiking among some! Highly rec poles 4 loose gravel on steep sections. 2.3mi
May 13, 2018

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 6 votes


  4.2 from 6 votes
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84 Views Last Month
1,286 Since Jul 22, 2017
Intermediate/Difficult Intermediate/Difficult

Erin Marie
Colorado Springs, Co
Erin Marie   Colorado Springs, Co
A bit relentless at first and a tad steep and loose in areas. I recommend going up this from the parking area and coming down by the lakes or for something different, taking Limbaugh Canyon (also loose and steep). This is a fun little ridge hike though. Took my a few minutes to find the creek crossing, but just stay right next to the creek and you'll find it. Jul 24, 2017

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