Great Views along the
Mount Muscoco Trail
This social trail is minimally maintained and its slippery gravel sections pulled me out of my comfort zone at times. But it was worth the added effort because of the 360° summit views. We went May 1, 2010 after all the snow had disappeared. In winter this would be an icy trail since much of it is north facing.
For directions see my
page since you start at the same trailhead. The parking lot on the south side of N. Cheyenne Canyon Rd. can fit perhaps 20 cars. Along the road runs a picturesque river.
Difficulty: The first 2/3 of a mile is easy, then becomes moderate, narrowing with many steeper parts, making it a Class 2 trail. I don't recommend taking young children as they could slip down some slopes. Round trip: 4 miles. Trailhead elevation: 6785'. Summit elevation: 8025' (1240' gain). If you subtract photo taking, it took us 1 1/2 hrs. to summit and 1 hr. 20 minutes to descend. I'd say a more fearless and experienced hiker would only take an hour to descend.
To the north you can see the Middle Columbine trail switchbacks.
It's 1 mile to Mount Cutler's summit. About 1/3 of a mile before the summit, the trail to Mount Muscoco veers off to the right at a steep section. There's no sign marking it, but it's shortly after the unusual rock formation on the left of the path (right of center in photo below).
Shortly after you turn right, the trail becomes steeper and you encounter a wide rocky section. Crossover it on the right side after you enjoy the views of Colorado Springs and Mt. Cutler to the east and the peaks in South Cheyenne Canyon.
The retractable hiking poles Greg got from REI are great for the avid hiker (below). But we had only brought one, which worked out fine for the two of us since he needed one for the ascent and I needed one for the descent.
In the photo below you can see Gold Camp Rd. toward the south, which goes to Cripple Creek.
It didn't take long to gain another 200 ft., giving us a better view of Mt. Cutler and the city below.
We didn't realize we were looking at the summit of Mount Muscoco ahead, but Greg suspected the high rocky peak was our destination. We didn't know Mount Muscoco's elevation at the time, but Greg figured the peak in view was between 7,900'-8,000', another 500'-600' to climb. I hadn't planned on a rigorous hike that day, so I said, "No way was I hiking to the top of that." It looked too intimidating, especially since the trail before us was sloping down and the late afternoon sky was darkening with snow laiden clouds.
The first shot below is looking north toward The Upper Columbine Trail and Gold Camp Rd. The next photo shows the view south from the ridge.
I wanted to see if our desired summit was hidden just beyond the trees, so we continued into the woods as the path soon started climbing up and curved around the north face of the hill.
After hiking awhile and not seeing another summit, we figured the rocky mountain top we saw was Mount Muscoco. By this point I decided I might as well keep going. We had to jump along one narrow sandy section of path where a long steep slope on the right made me a little nervous. The rock in the photo below was easier to cross over on the right, not via the steep path to the left.
The path had curved around to the other side of Mount Muscoco and were happy to finally see a saddle. The path that lay ahead of us (photo below) splits in about 1/3 of a mile with the right one leading to Daniel's pass, ending at N. Cheyenne Canyon Rd. and the left one takes you to Gold Camp Rd. near the closed tunnel. We haven't been on either path yet, so I can't give further details.
We turned left from the saddle to approach the summit on the northwest face, picking our way along a rocky trail that sometimes seemed to disappear amid the rough terrain. Now I just wanted to get to the top, so I was pushing myself to speed up even though the path started to climb more sharply.
I was very happy that I pressed on to make it to the top because the views were more expansive than I had anticipated. First is a shot looking southwest. The crop shows the pointy peak of Mount Rosa with
St. Mary's Falls
in the foreground (white strip toward the right).
Greg is on the summit's north end from which you can see Colorado Springs' northeast section.
Behind me, looking northwest is snow capped Almagre Mt. at the top and Silver Cascade (wide rock face) and Helen Hunt Falls below. In the crop below you can see the waterfalls better and even glimpse the parking lot for the Seven Bridges trailhead (far right).
Because I had to think a lot about where to step on the way down to the saddle and then had to slide crab style in a few sections approaching the Mt. Cutler trail, I'm not anxious to take this trail again. However, I'd consider trying another trail to the top someday because the views are so great. Because we were in a hurry to get down before a storm hit, we didn't even get photos from the south end of the summit.