Camp Creek in Queens Canyon
In my last blog, I wrote about the re-opening of Rampart Range Road
between the Garden of the Gods
and the Rampart Reservoir
, and the fire and flood damage in the Waldo Canyon
fire burn scar.
Today, it’s all about the trails and peaks on Rampart Range Road.
(All distances are measured from the gate where Rampart Range Road starts in the Garden of the Gods, just north of Balanced Rock
, and are approximate. As they say, “Your mileage may vary”.)
14.4 miles from Garden of the Gods turn right onto Forest Service Road 303
, continue for another eight-tenths of a mile and bear right onto Forest Service Road 302
. (Road 302 is not suitable for low ground clearance vehicles due to erosion and rutted roads, but any SUV or truck should do just fine.) Continue on Road 302 for another 2.1 miles and stop at the marked parking area on the right (GPS coordinates: N 38° 56.919, W 104°55.778). The hill on the opposite side of the road from the parking area is Ormes Peak. There’s no trail to the top, but it’s an easy, quick trip to the peak (N 38° 57.041, W 104° 56.099) where there are great 360° views of Pikes Peak
, Rampart Reservoir, and the west side of Blodgett Peak
. The total distance from the parking area to the peak and back is roughly one mile.
When you return to the parking area from Ormes Peak, look for the trail that goes east from behind the yellow sign. Follow this trail for approximately one mile until you reach a ridgeline. You’ll go through a burned-out area where the trail disappears, but continue east, and pay attention to your route so you can find your way back to the trail. Lone Pine Peak
is a short hike to the south with great views looking east over Colorado Springs
and the Douglas Creek drainage
. You can walk north or south along the edge of the ridge, and a short hike to the north will bring Blodgett Peak into view.
By far the best hike in this area, hiking along Camp Creek
through Queens Canyon from near its source at the Palmer Reservoir
is an enjoyable, moderate hike. In years past, it was common for hikers to be dropped off at the top of Queens Canyon, and have someone pick them up when they exited in Glen Eyrie
. This is no longer possible, as the bottom of the canyon is blocked, so remember you’ll have to hike back uphill to where you entered the canyon.
The easiest way into Queens Canyon is via “Pop’s Gulch
.” To get there, drive approximately 12 miles (N 38° 55.174, W 104° 57.550), look for a pullout on the right, and park next to the fence — motorized vehicles aren’t allowed past the fence. Hike around the fence and follow Forest Service Road 300P
, which cuts off to the right, for approximately 1000’ until you come to a low fence and an old “No Motorized Vehicles” sign. There, you can hop the fence and continue for about 150’ to where the road splits to the left. Follow this trail for approximately 1.75 miles (or approximately 2 miles from the parking area) until you get to a “Y” intersection, where it meets with Camp Creek and the entrance to Queens Canyon, and bear right (N 38° 55.798, W 104° 56.440). From here, the trail follows Camp Creek, descending deeper and deeper into Queens Canyon.
Although you can see fire damage while going through Pop’s Gulch and on some of the surrounding peaks, the first few miles of Queens Canyon is largely devoid of fire damage and make for a pleasant hike. The descent is gradual but it’s downhill, so it’ll be an uphill hike on your return trip. Also, there are few spots that may require some rock scrambling — proceed with caution, and don’t get in over your head.
With the sun low on the horizon during this time of the year, darkness comes early to the deeper parts of the canyon. Watch the sun and be prepared to turn around while you still have enough sunlight.
As I mentioned in my previous blog
, Rampart Range Road will close for the winter season sometime in early December and re-open again sometime in the spring. The good news, according to Barbara Timock of the U.S. Forest Service, is that the road closure will apply only to motorized vehicles; hiking, snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, cycling, etc. will still be permitted.
Bob Falcone is a firefighter, arson investigator, non-profit board president, college instructor, photographer, hiker and small business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for 23 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: email@example.com