McKinley Peak is part of a wall of peaks exceeding 10,000 feet in the skyline west of Colorado Springs. In the center of this mountain bulwark, McKinley Peak sits side-by-side with more dramatic San Luis Peak, from which it is separately by a broad and level saddle. McKinley Peak is a low-prominence peak, lacking the 300 magical feet to rank within the state of Colorado, but it is festooned with a distinctive north-facing “fin” of rock that makes the peak stand out among its peers when viewed from Gold Camp Road.
McKinley Peak’s top is covered in large boulders of Pikes Peak Granite that provide mostly wide-open vistas. Views from the summit of McKinley peak include show-stopper close-ups of Mount Rosa and Almagre Mountain South and Almagre Mountain, as well as the distant Sangre de Cristo wall of mighty mountains to the southwest.
Colorado Rank: Unranked
Prominence: 150 feet
USGS Quad: Mount Big Chief
Planning Map: National Geographic #137 | Pikes Peak / Cañon City
Rank & Prominence Source: Lists of John
McKinley Peak is typically accessed either from Bear Trap Ranch to the east or the Rosemont Reservoir to the west. Note, however, that Bear Trap Ranch, operated under a special agreement with the Forest Service, has closed indefinitely as of 10th August 2011. This turn of events could affect eastern access to this peak in both the near-term and the longer-term. Please contact the ranch prior to using the eastern access for the latest access update: http://www.beartrapranch.org/ | 866-265-9428 | BearTrapRanch@InterVarsity.org
• To Penrose-Rosemont Reservoir from the intersection of Penrose Boulevard and Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard in southwestern Colorado Springs: Take Old Stage Road (FSR 368) 6.5 miles from there to Gold Camp Road (FSR 370). Travel 5 miles on Gold Camp Road to the trailhead.
• To Bear Trap Ranch (8655 Old Stage Rd) from the intersection of Penrose Boulevard and Cheyenne Mountain Boulevard in southwestern Colorado Springs: Take Old Stage Road (FSR 368) 6.3 miles from there and keep a look out for signs to Bear Trap Ranch on the left. Travel 5 miles on Gold Camp Road to the trailhead.
A note on travel on Old Stage Road & Gold Camp Road
These roads comprise a wash-boarded dirt thoroughfare running between western Colorado Springs and the mining & gambling town of Cripple Creek. All sorts of vehicles will be seen on this road, including low-clearance sedans and street motorcycles, though neither of these is recommended. In dry conditions, high clearance will suffice. In snow or mud, 4x4 is required. This area is served by Randy’s High Country Towing, regionally famous for extracting the vehicles of folks who got in over their heads on Pikes Peak area back-roads.
Be forewarned that Old Stage Road & Gold Camp Roads are bedeviled by irresponsible, speeding, out of control drivers. Combine this behavior with narrow, wash-boarded dirt roads and deep - and your worst objective hazard of the day becomes other drivers and their vehicles. Drive defensively on this road!
Until I have the opportunity to post a proper route to include this summit, please refer to this SP Trip Report by member Jeremy Hakes.
Bear Trap Ranch: Please note access statements, above (in Getting There), regarding hiking this peak from the east.
When accessing this peak from the west, there is very little red tape in this part of the Pike National Forest. In fact, some sectors of this area can feel downright lawless Wild West at times.
• Do not litter and dispose properly of human waste.
• Shoot only in designated target ranges and point your firearm away from other recreationalists. Please pick up your spent shells!
• Expect and respect other recreationalists.
• Many others do NOT practice Leave No Trace principals when visiting this area. Please do your best to set a good LNT example.
Rustic car camping and backcountry camping can be throughout the surrounding Pike National Forest. Be forewarned that the proximity of this area to the urban I-25 corridor means that crowding can be an issue, especially in the summer, and that unsavory characters are known to frequent this area. Be prepared for heavy ATV use, large crowds, drunkenness and casual firearms usage.
While the Old Stage/Gold Camp area provides for all of the rustic camping you could hope for, I honestly suggest not spending the night in the area for the sake of peace and quiet, and even for your safety. Old Stage Road/Gold Camp Road serves as a conduit for the urban masses to explore Pike National Forest. While this sounds like a good idea, the reality is messy (garbage, spent shells, beer bottles, auto parts and busted clay pigeons) and sometimes grim. I am ashamed to even print this, but this area (Old Stage / Gold Camp Road) has the reputation as the “body dump” of Colorado Springs.
Do yourself a favor and stay in town, visiting McKinley Peak as a day excursion.
Hotels, Cabins & B&Bs
Old Colorado City
Nearby Old Colorado City has an assortment of lodging options, old and new, for all budgets. Restaurants, bakeries and shops are within strolling distance from many lodging facilities.
Manitou Springs lies at the foot of Ute Pass. This colorful, eclectic town offers a wide range of lodging options including old-style motor cottages and cabins, retro family-run motels, charming B&Bs and modern chain hotels. Shopping and dining are within walking distance of most Manitou lodging. Visit the a href=http://www.manitousprings.org/Default.aspx >Manitou Springs Visitors Website for more information on lodging in the area.