OverviewThis route is short but steep. The climb begins immediately after leaving your truck and crossing the road and does not let up until you reach the summit. The lower reaches of the route take you through thick blankets of kinnikinnick and mature Ponderosa Pine trees. Soon, the trees give way to blocky boulders and easy scrambling. The final approach to summit is surprisingly rocky and rugged, making for a fun finish to an all-too-brief hike.
This route to the summit of “Notch Mountain” is a great option to give out-of-town visitors a nice taste of the Pikes Peak Region or as a test piece for beginner navigators. Your truck does most of the “elevation gain work” for you via Rampart Range Road, and the short ascent time can mean more time lounging on the rocky summit and taking in the views.
Roundtrip Mileage: Less than ½ mile
Elevation Gain: 300 feet
From with Garden of the Gods Park
In dry conditions, high clearance is recommended for this dirt road, but a passenger car with be sufficient. In wet or snowy conditions, do not attempt Rampart Range Road without 4-wheel-drive and good tires.
- Locate the dirt Rampart Range Road and turn west.
- Follow Rampart Range Road for roughly 13 miles.
- Pass Ridge Crest Overlook (west side of the road) and FR Q300 (east side of the road).
- Roughly ½ mile later you will encounter a steep downhill straightaway. “Notch Mountain” will come into view directly ahead.
- In less than ½ mile, you will reach a the high point in the road on the western slope of “Notch Mountain”. A small parking pull out sits on the west side of the road.
Click here for a PDF Map from Garden of the Gods for instructions on getting to the park.
- After parking your vehicle at the high point in the Rampart Range road, almost due-west of the summit, carefully cross Rampart Range road and begin climbing the western slope of “Notch Mountain”, heading east-northeast.
- You may opt to follow the contour of a gully toward the summit for orientation.
- Initially the route is steep but the footing is smooth and the trees are well spaced with minimal downfall.
- Soon you will arrive at the base of the summit rock pile*.
- Options for reaching the top of the rock pile are endless and can be kept to Class 2+, though more exciting options can be found to those who wish to look for them.
- The summit area has many rocky outcroppings, each offering a different perspective of the surrounding area. One such outcropping is marked by a faded piece of lumber, which I assume serves as a summit marker.
*If you hike with your dog: Note that the footing in this rocky portion was difficult for my 90+ pound Shepherd mix to negotiate, especially with several inches of snow. After much hesitation and whining she finally made it to the top with me, but many stretches were quite challenging for her and caused her quite a bit of anxiety (which, in turn, caused me quite a bit of regret).
- Trail map (Trails Illustrated #137 (Pikes Peak, Cañon City) would meet most needs)
- Trekking pole(s)
- Sturdy hiking boots with grippy soles and stiff ankle support
- Snowshoes after a heavy snowfall
- Water and snacks
- A camera to save memories of the high country views
- First aid kit
- Other standard backcountry essentials