OverviewGray Back Peak is an unranked, but visually prominent, peak on the east side of Emerald Valley, just south of Cheyenne Mountain. There is a trail virtually all the way to the summit, and the trailhead is located on private property on the grounds of the Emerald Valley Ranch. Permission to climb from this trailhead seems to be readily granted, and the Ranch can be reached at 719-635-2468.
Getting ThereThe trailhead is just ¼ mile south of Old Stage Road (FS 368) on FS 371, the well-signed road to Emerald Valley Ranch. There is enough space for a few cars to park on the east side of the road, at the top of a rise.
To get onto Old Stage Road, simply follow the readily available directions for getting to the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo south of Colorado Springs, until you come to the large intersection where Penrose Blvd. turns into the Cheyenne Mountain Zoo Road. Turn right here, onto Old Stage Road. It climbs a ways up the east face of Cheyenne Mountain, then the pavement ends and the road wraps around the north side of the mountain and heads south. About seven miles after the pavement ends, you will reach FS 371.
Red TapeGary Back Peak lies within Pike National Forest, and the only restrictions involved relate to the location of the trailhead on private land. Calling ahead to secure permission is the courteous thing to do.
CampingCamping is, as far as this writer knows, allowed in the vicinity of Gray Back Peak, subject only to normal Forest Service regulations. However, this does not seem like a particularly attractive area for camping, unless you want to see the sunrise from somewhere high on the mountain.
The TrailThe trail, which is marked as being mainly a horse trail (!), is easy, and follows a gentle ridge line east and then south to the summit. Along the way, it goes over unnamed point 9153 (which provides nice views to the west), and then traverses to the saddle between Gray Back and its parent, UN 9410. The short side trip east to 9410, which is ranked, is well worth the effort. It offers an excellent, and unusual, view of Cheyenne Mtn. to the north.
The final leg of the climb is up the east side of the summit block, and is steeper than the rest of the climb. You'll probably have to use your hands a little to gain the actual summit, but it's worth the effort. The west side is a dramatic precipice, and the view, especially to the west, is wonderful.