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Chautauqua Trail



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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Aug 23, 2019
Lisette Shaw
Jun 23, 2019
Jun 4, 2019
Roxie Stacci
Me & Val hiked this, did the loop, going up Chautauqua Trail & coming down the Balanced Rock Trail. We just took our time, playing & checking out w… 2.3mi
May 27, 2019
Jerry Duncan
Steep and covered with loose rocks. Easy to lose footing. 2.3mi
May 12, 2019
Dwight Davison
May 11, 2019
Daylene York
Dec 17, 2018
Shan Yu
Dogs are prohibited.
Nov 14, 2018
Barb Mueller

Trail Ratings

  4.3 from 9 votes


  4.3 from 9 votes
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in Colorado


122 Views Last Month
1,817 Since Jul 22, 2017



The view eastward over Palmer Lake and Monument from the top of Chautauqua Mountain
Jul 22, 2017 near Palmer…, CO
Chautauqua Trail climbing the northern ridge.
Jul 22, 2017 near Palmer…, CO
Tufted Fleabane growing atop Chautauqua ridge.
Jul 22, 2017 near Palmer…, CO
Chautauqua Trail along the ridge near the boulder outcroppings at mile 1.7
Jul 22, 2017 near Palmer…, CO
The place near Palmer Lake reservoir trailhead where you cross Monument Creek to start Chautauqua trail.
Jul 22, 2017 near Palmer…, CO

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