This loop makes for a scenic trek ringing Mays Peak that winds in and out of pine forests and through old railroad tunnels. This route offers views of Mount Buckhorn, Colorado Springs, Garden of the Gods, Pikes Peak, and Helen Hunt Falls.
There are two access points for this route. One can be found at the intersection of Gold Camp Rd and High Drive
. The other is located by taking 26th Street to Gold Camp Rd.
Approximately 2 miles up Gold Camp Rd is parking.
Beginning at the Gold Camp Rd. parking area, head southwest down Gold Camp Rd.
toward the first tunnel. The road is even and smooth, so it's an easy hike. This section of Gold Camp Rd.
is amply traveled by motorized vehicles, horses, bikes and foot. Unfortunately, many motorized vehicles are not considerate of others that share the road, so be alert in this portion. As Gold Camp Rd.
continues, Cheyenne Mountain, Colorado Springs and Helen Hunt Falls are all views to appreciate. This section of the road passes through two bygone stone railroad tunnels, which are stunning from the inside and out! A headlamp is handy for traveling through.
At about 1.7 miles, Gold Camp Rd.
intersects with High Drive
. At this junction is a portable toilet and parking area. As Gold Camp Rd.
reaches the parking area, take a hairpin turn to the right to access High Drive
. Most of the time, this road is closed to motorized vehicles and has a locked gate. Go around the locked gate and head up the road about 1 mile.
At about 1 mile, High Drive
approaches a clearing with Mays Peak on the right and the trailhead for Penrose Trail (#665)
aka Lower Captain Jack’s Trail is directly ahead. Penrose Trail (#665)
aka Lower Captain Jack’s Trail winds in and out of timbers, rounds the north side of Mays Peak, offers views of Mount Buckhorn, and carves through deep arroyos for about 2.9 miles until it connects back with Gold Camp Rd.
Flora: Mixed pines, scrub oak, grasses, white and yellow yarrow, Canadian thistle (noxious weed), purple asters, and huckleberry.
Fauna: Chipmunks and squirrels.
In 1903 Captain Ellen Jack was in Colorado Springs, where her fantastic stories took root. Upon securing some tourist cabins and a curio shop along High Drive
, Ellen created an eclectic tourist trap complete with rustic wood decor and such fanciful pets as snakes and macaws. The plan failed. During 1906, Captain Jack was sued by three different people for loans amounting to over $1000. Scrambling for success, Captain Jack began telling even wilder tales. In 1909, she claimed to have found a fabulous cave somewhere on Cheyenne Mountain that she was keeping a secret until she could turn it into a tourist attraction. A year later she was selling photographs of herself in various costumes and poses around her little mountain home. More information on her intriguing story can be found here