This is a great trail for someone who wants to experience a longer ride for the first time. The downhill sections are very fun and doable, and the climbs are reasonable. It is mostly singletrack and loose gravel in sections, much like Buffalo Creek. Some highlights of the trail are Marmot Passage Trail
, Elk Falls Overlook, and Staunton Rocks Lookout on Border Line Trail
The southern section of the park (Staunton Ranch Trail
and Mason Creek Trail
) can get rather crowded with hikers, however the trails are pretty wide at these parts. Once up in the northern sections, you pretty much have the trail to yourself.
Bring cash or credit card for access to this state park. $7 for day pass.
Start from the southernmost parking area in the park (Parking Area #1), and follow signs for Staunton Ranch Trail
behind the restrooms on the east side of the lot. Alternatively, the trail can be accessed from the 2 parking areas farther north, however this will leave you with a small climb at the end of your ride if you do a big loop clockwise.
This new route offers the best of all trails currently open at Staunton State Park (as of early October 2016) without leaving much out for those interested in a ride that can get them close to 20 miles and over 3,200 feet of vertical ascent. Expect it to take anywhere from 3 - 4 hours total for a solid intermediate rider in good shape, depending on how much time you want to spend taking in the sights.
You'll start by heading up the new route of Staunton Ranch Trail
, which is a great way to warm the legs up. This part can be heavy with hiker and equestrian traffic. It's a fairly steady climb for most of the time and eventually dumps you onto the service road just a short distance away from the 4 way intersection of Marmot Passage Trail
, Border Line Trail
, Bugling Elk Trail
, and Staunton Ranch Trail
. You'll take a left onto Marmot Passage Trail
which will eventually dump you out right by Elk Falls Pond. From here, continue a very short distance up Lion's Back Trail
(only about 40 feet up) where you'll turn left onto the start of the new Chimney Rock Trail
. The most fun way to do Chimney Rock Trail
is as an out and back, but you can also come down Lion's Back Trail
if you want. Elk Falls Overlook should not be missed while you're up there!
From the 3-way intersection of Marmot Passage Trail
, Lion's Back Trail
and Bugling Elk Trail
at Elk Falls Pond, make a left onto Bugling Elk Trail
. This is a short and rather uneventful section of the tour. It climbs and progresses from a meadow, and through the woods on a rutted road back down to the 4-way intersection of Marmot Passage Trail
, Staunton Ranch Trail
and Border Line Trail
From here, make a left onto Border Line Trail
which is the hardest climb on the tour. A quick up and down cruises along the side of the mountain, and then the switchbacks and big climb begins. The trail peaks at about 1.2 miles, and right when the descent starts, there is an opportunity for an overlook at a point call "Staunton Rocks." This provides a great breaking point to take in the view before the final descent of the full clockwise circuit down Mason Creek Trail
. The descent continues and ends at the Old Mill site, a turn-of-the-20th century saw mill that has some cool abandoned buildings and equipment. This is a 3-way intersection of Mason Creek Trail
and Old Mill Trail, which is a hiking-only trail.
At this intersection, go left onto Mason Creek Trail
, which you'll for about 8/10 of a mile before you come to the turn off for the newly opened Bear Paw Trail
Eventually Bear Paw Trail
joins back with Mason Creek Trail
and you're in for about an 800 foot (vertical) descent back to the car!
About 2 miles from the end of Bear Paw Trail
, some rocks and obstacles present themselves, but nothing too advanced. There are a few very small creek crossings along the way as well. Once out of the woods at about mile 3.5 (of Mason Creek Trail
), the trail opens up into a sprawling meadow and makes its way back to the Parking Area. Be on the lookout for hikers in this area as you make your way back to the parking lot for a well deserved cold beverage.
Staunton State Park is one of Colorado's newest parks thanks to a donation by in 1986 by Frances Hornbrook Staunton. It hosts some beautiful hills and rock formations, along with a waterfall and turn-of-the-20th century saw mill.