For those who want a mid-sized day hike with a variety of terrain, this is the hike for you. You'll pass by the Historic Cabin Trail
, view Pike's Peak and have a mid-way stop at Elk Falls Pond. The terrain will give you a gentle hike at the beginning with a short climb on rockier terrain in the middle. The route back is an easy going forest road back to the Staunton Ranch Trail
There is a $10 daily pass for all CO State Parks. During May-Sep, parking lots will fill up by 9a so get there early.
Park at the upper (overflow) lot of the Ranch Hand Trailhead. There are restrooms and seasonal (May-Sep) available. Everything is well marked on this route. Start at the Staunton Ranch Trail
which will be the upper left as you exit the parking lot. Follow the Staunton Ranch Trail
for about 3.7 miles and you'll cross Black Mountain Creek just before the intersection of Staunton Ranch Trail
, Old Mill Trail
, and Scout Line Trail
. This is a great place to take a water break and (May-Sep) there is an available port-o-potty.
At the intersection, head south (left) to Scout Line Trail
. You'll cross a service road but the trail is well marked. This is where your climb begins and this will be a majority of the climb for this route. Take Scout Line Trail
for 1.5 miles. Make sure to look south as your reach the top because you'll have a great view of Pike's Peak. After 1.5 miles, you'll reach the intersection with Marmot Passage Trail
At the intersection, head south (left) on Marmot Passage Trail
towards Elk Falls Pond. About 0.5 miles down this trail, you'll have another great place to take a break on open rock with a great view. Continue on for another 0.7 miles where you'll begin your descent on some switch backs to Elk Falls Pond.
Elk Falls Pond is about 5.1 miles from the start of the Trailhead. You can fish (with permit) here or stop for a snack or lunch break. From Elk Falls Pond, take Bugling Elk Trail
north (right). This is primarily a service road and will be a steady climb back but not steep.
About 0.2 mile on your hike back, there is an even BETTER place to stop for a break and filter water. If you look to your left (west), you'll see a small foot bridge with a picnic table on the other side. There is a small stream to filter water and soak your feet.
Continuing on 0.2 miles on Bugling Elk Trail
(0.4 miles from Elk Pond Falls), there is a brand new pit toilet on your right hand side. Continue on 0.67 miles more until you reach the intersection back to Staunton Ranch Trail
. You'll be on Bugling Elk Trail
for 1.1 miles total.
Follow the signage for Staunton Ranch Trail
. It is about 3.2 miles back to the parking lot.
Deer and foxes are frequent on this trail.