Chautauqua Mountain Loop 

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Located between the Palmer Lake town reservoirs and Raspberry Mountain, Chautauqua Mountain is largely unknown, except to local residents. Any maps that do show a trail there only show the steepest route on the peak's north side, ignoring a nice scenic trail the runs the full length of the over 1-mile-long mountain top. The views are great, and although some parts of this loop hike may be arduous, most of the hike is moderate and very pleasant. To get there from Colorado Springs: Take I-25 to Exit 161 (Highway 105), Turn left on Hwy 105, cross back over I-25 then right at the traffic light. Continue on Hwy 105, turning left on to S. Valley Road. Bear right on to S. Valley Road immediately after turning off of Hwy 105. Turn left onto the one-way Old Carriage Road and look for the trailhead and parking at the hairpin turn at the bottom of the hill.
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Bob Falcone
Chautauqua Mountain loop trailhead. The trail forks just past here. Bear right.
Bob Falcone
After .25 miles you'll come to another fork. Bear right, go uphill and then go left on the service road. This is a steep, uphill trek.
Bob Falcone
After about .65 miles, you'll encounter the end of Lower Reservoir. The road levels out for a bit, before starting a gradual uphill section. At about .85 miles, you'll pass the Ice Cave Creek Trail head on the right. Continue on the road,
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At approximately 1.10 miles, the larger upper reservoir comes into view. A little futher, the trail starts back downhill, though mostly level for the next .75 miles.
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At 1.4 miles there is a cut-off to the left, across a narrow part of the reservoir. This usually has deep snow in the winter and is wet and swampy in the summer. My suggestion is to continue on the road. (All mileages noted after this slide are based on staying on the road and not using the cut-off. The difference is approximately .10 miles.) About 250 feet past this point, the road hairpins to the left, with a trail that cuts off to the right. Bear left.
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At about 1.80 miles, go to the left around the locked gate, which is there to prevent vehicle, not foot traffic.
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At 2.00 miles, bear left at the fork.
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Approximately 100 feet past the last "Y," bear right at the next intersection. The road will now start another long, steep uphill section. There are some small social trails that go downhill to the right, but stay on the road, always going uphill.
Bob Falcone
At approximately 2.75 miles, the road (Balanced Rock Road) comes to a saddle. From here, Balanced Rock road goes to the right, Forest Service Trail #715 goes straight. A left turn starts the final climb onto Chautauqua Mountain. This uphill section is about 1,000 feet. Stay to the left of the eroded gully as much as possible, then follow the well established trail.
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Once on top, the trail winds and undulates up and down as it traverses the top of the peak. The surrounding views, such as this one of Raspberry Mountain (foreground) and Mt. Herman (background) are quite nice.
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At approximately 3.90 miles there is a .10-mile, steep uphill climb to the highest point on Chautauqua Mountain. At 4.0 miles, a large rock pile marks the spot and has a container with the summit logbook. From here the trail drops down and then back up to the furthest northern point of the mountain.
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At approximately 4.2 miles, you'll find a stone semi-circle. The trail starts its downhill portion just past this point.
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The trail down can be hard to find. Look for this rock formation, just past the rock circle (you'll approach this from the left of this photo). Turn left and look for a gap in the foliage.
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The start of the downhill section at the north end of the peak.
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This part of the trail can be steep and slippery with loose rock.
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A view of Palmer Lake, the New Santa Fe Trail and Elephant Rock from the north end of Chautauqua Mountain.
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At 5.10 miles, there is a creek crossing at the end of the downhill portion of the trail. It was easy to rock-hop across the creek in early June. Once across, turn right, and follow the trail a short distance back to the parking lot.
Bob Falcone
The hike route. The trail starts in the upper right corner and goes counter clock-wise.
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Bob Falcone
Chautauqua Mountain loop trailhead. The trail forks just past here. Bear right.

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