Saturday was a great day to get out of Denver for a few hours on take in some fresh air, blue skies and get my boots a little dirty in the process. Headed out to Staunton State Park, this time to try Bear Paw trail.
Bear Paw trail is a relatively new trail, opening late last year. The trail itself is 2.3 miles and is for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The only way to access this trail is by hiking the Mason Creek trail. There are two entries onto Bear Paw, the first is about 2.75 miles in on Mason Creek and the second entry is about 3.2 miles in.
First entry onto Bear Paw trail to the left.
Rock balancing. There were several of these along Mason Creek on our way down the trail
Looking across the park towards Pike’s Peak far in the distance
A “rock whisperer” is among us.
Zoom in on Pike’s Peak
There are 3 marked overlooks, Eagle Cliffs, Pikes Peak and Catamount along Bear Paw trail as well as a few unmarked ones as well. Each providing gorgeous views across the park 9400 feet in elevation and higher, with Eagle Cliffs the highest of the three at 9579 feet. Eagle Cliffs Overlook involves a quick climb up to the top, and it is well worth it. Each of the 3 outlooks are to be accessed on foot only.
Following Mason Creek trail to Bear Paw trail and back down Mason Creek to the trail head gives you about 8.25 miles in total.
Last Saturday was just what the doctor ordered! I had not been on a trail in a very long time and I had to do something about that as the daily stresses of life had caught up to me for some time. The plan was made earlier in the week to drive back out to Staunton State Park to hit a new trail for me, Mason Creek Trail. The weather was mid 40s, a little windy and clear blue skies. The main objective was to get outdoors and let the outdoors take over.
Mason Creek Trail is a 4.5 mile hike with an elevation gain of nearly 1300 feet (8180-9440 ft). Along the way you encounter dense forests, open meadows and groves of aspens all along Mason Creek. You do cross over Mason Creek several times but it’s nothing to fear. This is a small creek At the end of the 4.5 miles is what’s left of an early 20th century saw mill. As with most trails in Staunton here you can pick up two other trails, the Old Mill trail and the Borderline trail to extend your hike and explore other areas of the park or you can go back down the Mason Creek trail.
aspens and a blue sky
Old saw mill
crossing over Mason Creek
As you can see in some of the pics above there is a decent amount of snow on most of the trail and a lot of ice, which meant I finally got the chance to use my Yaktrax and I loved the grip and stability they provided on the ice.
Back on the trail today for the first time in almost a month and since being back from vacation. This was probably more than I should have done, but you can call me an overachiever. Elk Falls Overlook is a must hike if you haven’t yet been to Staunton State Park. I of course walked out my apartment without my camera, so instead I used the my phone. Below are just a few photos.
A gorgeous view from the overlook
Aspen gold on the Staunton Ranch Trail
No marmots were injured during this hike.
Elk Falls Pond
Starting out on the Staunton Ranch Trail(SR) for 3.4 miles, then it junctions with two other trails, the Marmot Passage Trail(MP) and the Bugling Elk Trail(BE). If you want more mileage and a bit more gain in elevation to your hike to Elk Fall Overlook, then go left on the Marmot Passage Trail(2.2 miles, 430 Vft). If you want lesser mileage then go right with Bugling Elk Trail(1.1 miles, 256 Vft). Both trails do meet back up before you take on Lion’s Back Trail(LB)(0.9 miles, 289 Vft).
So opting for the trail to the right, the Bugling Elk Trail(BE) for a little over a mile, then took the Lion’s Back Trail the final mile to the overlook. Coming back the same way, so basically an out and back hike at just under 11 miles. The view from the overlook is amazing to say the least.
I finally had the chance to go check out Colorado’s newest state park, Staunton State Park, a couple of weeks ago, just outside of Conifer. There are 10 trails currently in the park, a majority of the trails are for hiking, biking and horseback riding. There’s rock climbing available at the Staunton Rocks, via the Climbing Access Trail, a .9 mile loop that runs off the Staunton Ranch Trail.
There’s a $7 entrance fee into the park.
Warning! Get there early if you can. It’s gonna be a little crowded because it is a new park and also because of it’s close proximity to the Denver metro area.
I will definitely be back here as this will be a great park to hike anytime, but I’m especially looking forward to hiking it in the fall. Staunton is another great park to take out of towners who want to experience hiking at altitude but nothing too extreme. Great job and congratulations Colorado Parks & Wildlife!
Here are a few photos from the hike 2 weeks ago.