RT Length: 12 miles
Elevation Gain: 4000’
I woke up late this morning. My first alarm didn’t go off (the one set for 5 am so I could do yoga before my hike) but my second one did (the one set at 6:50am to wake up the kids). I jumped out of bed, scrambled to get ready, and was out the door in about 10 minutes, sans yoga for the morning.
I made it to the North Cheyenne Canyon Trailhead just before 8am. I met Dave there, and we started hiking around 8am, following Gold Camp Road until it intersected with the 624 St Mary’s Falls Trail. The trail was clear of mud and snow, and followed an ice filled creek filled with small trout (4-5 inches long).
There were several metal signs along the way which indicated the correct direction to hike, but as with most metal signs, the mileage was way off.
We went right at the cutoff for St Mary’s Falls and continued up the 624 and over a frozen creek. It looked slippery, but wasn’t dangerous enough to use spikes.
The trail winds up a ways, and eventually comes to a place where it looks like it ends, but it doesn’t. Just pass through the gateway and continue a few yards to come to service road 381. Take the road right (North) for another few yards and you’ll see cairns to the left that indicate the 672 or Nelsons Trail (Left/West).
Unfortunately, the 672 trail marker is difficult to find, and not on the road. It’s about 3 yards up from the road on the trail, hidden under a tree. The cairns make this an easy trail to find however.
At this point the trail became steeper, so Dave and I separated for a bit. As I was hiking I saw this cool heart shaped rock right in the middle of the trail.
And I could see the fire burning on Ft. Carson
This part of the hike just flew by! It was steep, but not too steep.
I love to hike inclines fast, and made it pretty quickly up to the top to enjoy the view of Almagre and Pikes Peak. And to sit for a while and have lunch.
The view was amazing, but it was incredibly windy!!!
From my lunch spot I could see the rest of our hike. That’s Mt. Rosa…
After about 20 minutes or so I was beginning to get really cold from sitting in one spot. My sweat had turned to ice and I was losing feeling in my fingers, so I got up and hiked a bit more to the 672/673 junction. The sign for the 673 had blown down, but still indicated which way to go.
I stood behind some trees, using them as a wind break, and waited for my hiking buddy. When he arrived we continued on the 673. We passed a very windy saddle, and then had 500 feet of elevation left to go before reaching the summit of Mt. Rosa. From almost the beginning of this part of the trail it was entirely covered in snow. It wasn’t enough snow/ice to put on microspikes, and we weren’t postholing too often, so our hiking boots did the trick. There was a pretty good trench indicating the way up.
The wind increased and I got colder and colder, but instead of my hiking too far ahead we stayed closer together for this last part of the hike.
Summit photo of Dave and I!
The views from the summit were amazing! We could see Almagre, Pikes Peak, Ft. Carson, the Penrose-Rosemont Reservoir, and a bunch of Mountain Ranges: The Wet Mountains, Spanish Peaks, Sangre de Cristos and Sawatch.
We didn’t stay long at the summit because that wind was INTENSE and cold! When we finally made it back to the Nelsons Trail area I began to thaw out a little. I could talk again and my fingers were burning, which meant the blood was rushing back into them. Dave was unfairly quite warm and tried to help warm up my hands. When we reached the frozen creek it had thawed out a little, giving us some traction as we crossed.
About halfway down towards St. Mary’s Falls I could take off my beanie and gloves, and the final part of the hike was pleasantly warm. It had just been cold near/above treeline because of the wind.
We made it back around 2:30pm, making the 12 mile, 4000’ in elevation gain trek in 6.5 hours.
Here’s our out and back route: