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Mays Peak Ramble via Penrose Trail (#665)

Intermediate
 4.2 (13) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A gentle panoramic ramble over Penrose Trail (#665) aka Lower Captain Jack's Trail that rings Mays Peak.


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Map Key

5.7

Miles

9.2

KM

Loop

7,870' 2,399 m

High

7,183' 2,189 m

Low

794' 242 m

Up

814' 248 m

Down

5%

Avg Grade (3°)

15%

Max Grade (9°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Fall Colors · Spring · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

Family Friendly Pack the papoose, lace up the boots, and enjoy the scenes. Temperate terrain.

Motorcycles, foot, and horse trail. No ATVs.

Camping is permitted along the trail and is recommended 300’ from any trail or stream. Use no-impact camping techniques. Pack it in/Pack it out rule applies. Campfire permits are not required but please be sure your fire is dead out before you leave. Respect other trail users. (Per USFS)

Overview

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.

Need to Know

A headlamp is handy for traveling on this section of Gold Camp Rd., as there are two bygone stone railroad tunnels.

Description

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 & Fauna

Flora: Mixed pines, scrub oak, grasses, white and yellow yarrow, Canadian thistle (noxious weed), purple asters, and huckleberry.

Fauna: Chipmunks and squirrels.

History & Background

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.

Contacts

Shared By:

K Keiter

Trail Ratings

  4.2 from 13 votes

#2140

Overall
  4.2 from 13 votes
5 Star
31%
4 Star
54%
3 Star
15%
2 Star
0%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#297

in Colorado

#2,140

Overall
85 Views Last Month
3,231 Since Aug 5, 2017
Intermediate

0%
8%
92%
0%
0%
0%

Photos

View of Helen Hunt Falls from Gold Camp Rd.
Aug 5, 2017 near Manitou…, CO
View of Mount Cutler from Penrose Trail (#665) aka Lower Captain Jack's Trail.
Aug 5, 2017 near Colorad…, CO
Outlook view of Bear Creek Canyon Park from Penrose Trail (#665) aka Lower Captain Jack's Trail.
Aug 5, 2017 near Manitou…, CO
First Tunnel. Honk and Lights, Please!
Aug 5, 2017 near Colorad…, CO
Asters alongside Penrose Trail (#665) aka Lower Captain Jack's Trail.
Aug 5, 2017 near Colorad…, CO
Huckleberry Bush amongst the pines.
Aug 5, 2017 near Manitou…, CO

Weather


Current Trail Conditions

Update Conditions
All Clear 28 days ago See History
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Check-Ins

Sep 1, 2020
Dani Kay
5.7mi
Jun 27, 2020
Kevin Knott
Mar 14, 2020
Colin Sandlin
Nov 16, 2019
Jeff Yorzyk
Excellent casual hike, good views, and cool tunnels. Bring a GPS-enabled app (like Hiking Project) to avoid getting off-trail on (many unmarked sides) 5.7mi — 3h 00m
Sep 29, 2019
Michelle Mason
Enjoyed this hike. Once you get on the Penrose trail, listen for Mountain Bikers - since most of it is downhill, they are coming fast on singletrack. 5.3mi — 9h 57m
Aug 18, 2019
Sam Taylor
great veiw of inbetween here n mountains. trail is lose gravel for a while
Apr 15, 2019
Tom K
5.7mi
Apr 6, 2019
Luke Reichold