Gold Camp Road winter hike photos

Gold Camp Road winter hike photos

Photos taken on Gold Camp Road west of Colorado Springs, Jan 20, 2012. Copyright (c) 2012, Sandra J. Loosemore. Photos are provided for personal viewing only; no other use is permitted without prior written consent.

View up North Cheyenne Canyon from the trailhead. There's snow on the north-facing slopes but the sunny side of the canyon is clear and dry, so I was hoping the Gold Camp Road trail would be mostly snow-free. It hadn't snowed much in the city for weeks and it was about 50 degrees on this morning.

The trail looks promising enough to start out with.

Snow on the trail as you approach the hairpin turn to cross over to the other side of the canyon, though.

Looks like winter at the creek crossing at the bottom of the canyon.

Heading up the shady north side of the canyon. The walking was actually fine here -- this section gets a lot of use from joggers and dog-walkers, so there was a packed trail in the snow and it wasn't icy.

At the downhill side of the closed tunnel. This is actually tunnel #3 on the former "short line" railroad to Cripple Creek (the first two tunnels are farther north, on the section of Gold Camp Road that's still open to traffic). This tunnel partially collapsed in 1988, and later there was a fire that damaged the remaining support timbers, so it's unlikely now to be re-opened.

Looking back up-canyon from the top of the tunnel bypass trail.

And, looking in the other direction, out over the city.

If you take the right fork here, the trail goes up Buffalo Canyon to St. Mary's Falls and Mt. Rosa. The left fork takes you back down to continue on Gold Camp Road.

Still on the bypass above the tunnel, here's a view showing the continuation of the road.

Here's a view up Buffalo Creek at the crossing. Just downstream from here, this creek forms Silver Cascade Falls, accessible by a short (but steep) trail from the Helen Hunt Falls parking lot.

Coming back out on the road, I looked back at the tunnel entrance and wondered how the trains could ever negotiate that sharp corner right at the mouth....

....but there must have been a trestle to carry the tracks over the creek here that was removed when the old railbed was converted to a road. That must have been an exciting ride for passengers, with the train popping out of the tunnel into mid-air off the edge of this cliff!

Continuing up the road, the trail is still snow-covered but packed and not too bad for walking.

No snow as you start to turn the corner out of the canyon.

Now the trail is going up the southeast-facing side of South Cheyenne Canyon.

Here's a view looking out the canyon. Seven Falls is somewhere below here.

Looking up the canyon from a little farther on (note the snow on the road again). The pointy peak that dominates the canyon here is called St. Peter's Dome.

Rock formations off to the right side of the trail.

Pretty soon Stove Mountain comes into view. St. Mary's Falls is in the snow-filled notch on the right side of the mountain. Just a little bit farther up the road, there is an unmarked "social trail" that crosses over the ridge to the right back into Buffalo Canyon so you can actually get there from here, too.

Looking south across the canyon.

St. Peter's Dome still in the distance.

The snow on the road is getting deeper, and there's definitely been less traffic on this section of trail than farther down. Some of those tracks in the snow were made by deer, BTW.

Coming out of the rock cut at the end of that stretch of trail, here's the summit of Stove Mountain peeking out above the trees.

Here there's a faint trail to a mine that zigzags up the slope of Stove Mountain. Since this is marked on the map, I could fix my position here. I hadn't set out with any particular goal in mind for this hike (the closed part of the road is 9+ miles long), but here I saw that I was still more than a mile from the next tunnel, I'd been walking for 2 hours, and my feet were getting wet from hiking through the snow in sneakers. So, I decided it was time to turn around.

On the downhill trudge. The old railroad grade goes up at such a gentle slope that it feels flat to me when walking uphill, but downhill definitely feels like downhill.

The light at the end of the tunnel!

Finally back at the trailhead, yay!

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