Chautauqua Mountain rises steeply on the southern edge of the mouth of Monument Creek near the community of Palmer Lake. Along with fellow unranked 8er Sundance Mountain, Chautaqua stands guard above at the eastern terminus of a lovely valley where Ice Cave Creek and North Monument Creek converge to form Monument Creek. From the southeast Chautauqua is an especially handsome peak, with cliff bands and outcroppings blazing a deep crimson against the pine, fur and spruce blanketing the rugged slopes.
Chautauqua beckons travelers heading northwest on Hwy 105 to come enjoy the views from the slopes and summit of this suburban peak. Looking east-northeast during the ascent, the hiker is treated to “Marlboro Man country” views of the Douglas County Buttes. Through the trees, Ben Lomand Mountain stretches eastward toward the prairie. From the summit of Chautauqua Mountain, Mount Herman looks especially rugged and handsome, rising boldly to the south.
Colorado Rank: Unranked
Prominence: 172 feet
Mountain Range: Front Range
USGS Quad: Palmer Lake
Trails Illustrated Map: #137 (Pikes Peak, Cañon City)
Rank and Prominence Reference: Lists of John
Getting ThereChautauqua Mountain guards the western edge of the community of Palmer Lake. It sits in far northeastern El Paso County, just south of the Douglas County line. Proximity to I-25 makes a visit to this mountain exceedingly convenient for residents and visitors of the Colorado Springs area.
The Monument Creek and reservoirs on the creek provide the drinking water for the Town of Palmer Lake. As such, usage guidelines are clearly stated and, the signs promise, strictly enforced. The guidelines are as follows:
- Pedestrian use only. No horses, no motor vehicles
- Dogs must be leashed and are not allowed to swim in the water
- No swimming humans
- No camping
- No firearms
This access into the U.S. National Forest is accessible via a short drive from anywhere in the Colorado Springs metropolitan area. In fact, many residents of northwestern Colorado Springs could easily summit Chautauqua as an after-work hike. A visit to Chautauqua Mountain is a short, pleasant day trip for hikers from Denver. As a result, lodging is unnecessary for a majority of visitors to Chautauqua Mountain.
As noted in Red Tape, camping at the trailhead or along the Monument Creek drainage is expressly forbidden to protect the Palmer Lake watershed.
Weather & Seasons
Chautauqua Mountain can be hiked year-round. Relative to other Colorado mountains, the Rampart Range receives relatively little snow, especially in the lower reaches. However, after a big snow fall, Chautauqua Mountain makes for a delightful snowshoe. In the summer, temperatures in the Rampart Range can be much hotter than in the high country of Colorado. Bring plenty of water and protection from the sun.