Rain Benchmark – a pleasant name for a gentle, wooded Elevener rising between the drainages of Middle Beaver Creek and Gould Creek. Few residents of nearby Colorado Springs even know this mountain exists, and fewer still would be able to identify it. From the summit area of this peak, the visitor can enjoy amazing, close-range views of Pikes Peak and “Almagre Mountain South”. While the summit is wooded, just a little extra work yields views of the Wet Mountains, including their high point, Greenhorn Mountain, as well as the mighty Sangre de Cristos to the southwest.
As far as the peaks immediately west of Colorado Springs is concerned, Rain Benchmark is in the “Back Forty” and not frequently visited. While Rain Benchmark is easy to access, thanks to the Forest Service roads surrounding it that spur off of Gold Camp Road, no formal trails scar its slopes. Be sure to make a point to take in views of Cathedral Park to the west of Rain Benchmark. Public access is limited due to private land holdings in the area, and the rock quality is rumored to be too poor for climbing, but this magical land of granite spires and outcrops is a feast for the eyes.
Rank: 1641st highest peak in Colorado
Prominence: 330 feet
USGS Quad: Big Bull Mountain
Rank & Prominence: Lists of John
|Rain Benchmark sits southwest of Colorado Springs in Teller County, not far from the convergence of El Paso, Teller and Fremont counties. The peak is snuggled between FS 376 to the west and Gould Creek Road (FS 370 C), and accessed via Gold Camp Road.|
|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!
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.
• 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.
Camping & Lodging
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. In October 2008 the body of 19 year old, mentally disabled Judi Lawrence was discovered near Old Stage Road; she had been raped and murdered.
Do yourself a favor and stay in town, visiting Rain Benchmark 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.
The hotel options in Colorado Springs are virtually limitless. If you are the 5-star luxury type, be sure to check out The Broadmoor, which is extremely convenient to the eastern terminus of Old Stage Road.
Weather & Seasons
Nice powder (for snowshoeing or step-kicking) can be found on the western slope of Rain Benchmark in the winter months. Summer months bring heavy Jeep & ATV traffic to the dirt roads running up the drainages on both sides of Rain Benchmark and Old Stage Road/Gold Camp Road is crawling with teens blaring obnoxious music, drunks shooting into thin air and tourists nervous about damaging their rental car on the potholes and ruts holding up traffic at 5 mph. Spring access to the summit would depend on the year’s snowpack; a heavy snowpack would mean deep drifts of soft, late-season snow lodged in the trees. Fall may well be the best season to attempt Rain Benchmark, and the golden aspen glowing on the lower reaches of the mountain would be sure to delight.