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. The trails a clearly marked, making it nearly impossible to get lost or turned around. It is mostly singletrack and loose gravel in sections, much like Buffalo Creek.
Some highlights of the trail are Bear Paw Trail
, Marmot Passage Trail
, Elk Falls, and the various lookout points. The best of these is the short hike to Eagle Cliffs Overlook - best view in the park!
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, the trails are less crowded, but have gotten busier now that the park has gained a little more popularity.
This route had been updated as of October 2017 to include all the new multi-use trails in the park. This ride can take anywhere from 3-5 hours total for a solid intermediate rider in good shape, depending on how much time you want to spend taking in the sights - which are highly recommended! With the combination of rock formations, waterfalls, and mountain views, Staunton offers a very uncharacteristic adventure this close to the front range.
Bring cash or credit card for access to this state park. $10 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 two north parking areas if you want to make it a slightly smaller loop. 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 close to the four-way intersection of Marmot Passage Trail
, Border Line Trail
, and Bugling Elk Trail
. Take a left onto Marmot Passage Trail
which will eventually dump you out at Elk Falls Pond. From here, you pass the entrance to Bugling Elk Trail
and make a right onto West Meadow Trail
West Meadow Trail
is a moderate multi-use trail that is a fantastic alternative to the Lion's Back Trail
which is essentially just a dirt road. Continue counterclockwise around this trail through pine forests and a meadow to end up back on Lion's Back Trail
. From here, make a right, and continue to the Elk Falls Overlook. This overlook is hiker only. Come back down Lion's Back Trail
the same way you came up, and make a right onto Chimney Rock Trail
Chimney Rock Trail
is another one of the newer multi-use trails in the park. There are some great man-made rock benches on this trail to cross over scree fields. About 0.9 miles into this trail, there is a hitching rail for horses, and an optional hikers only trail to the base of Elk Falls. Continue counterclockwise down Chimney Rock Trail
back to Elk Falls Pond.
From Elk Falls Pond, you have the option to climb back over Marmot Passage Trail
from west to east which would provide an additional 1.3 miles and 300' of climbing to the tour, with some added fun downhill as a reward. If you want to truly see every trail in the park and have no repeats or out-and-backs, then head north onto Bugling Elk Trail
from Elk Falls Pond. This is a very short section of the tour, and a great chance to give your legs a break before the steepest climb. It climbs and progresses from a meadow, and through the woods on a rutted road back down to the four-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 and steepest 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, at Staunton Rocks Overlook. The descent starts and ends at the Old Mill site, a turn-of-the-20th century sawmill that has some cool abandoned buildings and equipment. This is a three-way intersection of Mason Creek Trail
and Old Mill Trail, which is a hiking-only trail.
From here, go left onto Mason Creek Trail
, which you'll climb for about a mile first through pines then through an aspen grove and small meadow before you come to the turn off for the Bear Paw Trail
Bear Paw Trail
is a very fun, at times technical segment. There are always moderate options around the technical features. At about 0.4 miles in, there is yet another hiker-only option for Eagle Cliffs Overlook, which is easily the best view in the park and a chance to see a few 14ers. Another 0.8 miles from here brings you to Pikes Peak Overlook, and the highest bike-able point of the tour.
From here, you get over 1,300' of descent back to the parking lot! Continue another 1.5 miles on Bear Paw Trail
back to the intersection of Mason Creek Trail
and make a right.
About two miles from the end of Bear Paw Trail
on Mason Creek 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 that you can hike down to, beautiful lookouts and 14er views, and a turn-of-the-20th century saw mill.