My wife and I decided to attempt a summit of Mt. Kineo in Pike National Forest. We headed out from our house at around 10:00am. After stopping for a quick breakfast we arrived at the Gold Camp Road parking lot at around 11:00am.
We were anxious to get started because the forecast was calling for a spring blizzard starting that evening. We headed up Gold Camp Road
to the first switchback where the road crosses North Cheyenne Creek. We headed off to the right up the beautiful Seven Bridges Trail which follows North Cheyenne Creek
upstream for a few miles. This trail is just great with seven bridge crossings (hence the name) of North Cheyenne Creek and it’s many cascades and small waterfalls
. The song birds were out but the flowers had yet to bloom. After following the Seven Bridges Trail for about a mile and a half we arrived at Undine Falls
, a natural rock waterslide. We decided that this would be a great place to take a short break and enjoy the moving water.
After a refreshing break we headed up stream along the Seven Bridges Trail and soon broke out into a scree slope
above the creek. After exiting the scree slope we entered an aspen grove meadow. Once in the aspen grove we arrived at a fork in the trail. The left fork heads up to Nelson Camp and Frosty’s Park and the right fork heads up to the saddle just west of Mt. Kineo. We took the right fork and headed up to the saddle which was blanketed in snow.
Once at the saddle we headed off trail to the right up the obvious west ridge of Mt. Kineo. This portion of the hike was through snow with quite a bit of rock scrambling. After struggling uphill for a few hundred vertical feet we reached a false summit with spectacular views in all directions. There is a small rock cairn on this false summit. After a short rest we continued down twenty or thirty feet to the saddle between the false summit and the true summit which was about 150’ above this small saddle. Approximately the first 100’ of this ascent was on gravel with scattered evergreens and snow drifts which was a nice change of pace from the steep snow/rock scrambling up to the false summit. The last 50’ ascent to the summit turned into more rock scrambling. The true summit was tree covered with limited views. A short scramble in just about any direction provides the opportunity for great views
The true treat of Mt. Kineo is located south of the true summit. From the true summit, a rock outcropping can be seen on the south side of the summit. We hiked over to these outcroppings and were amazed at the view down North Cheyenne Canon
towards the trailhead. An additional bonus was a large rock
face which resembles a large face which we named “The Old Man of the Mountain West”
in honor of his fallen cousin in the White Mountains in New Hampshire. If any one knows of previous documentation of this, I would appreciate it.
After soaking in the views we inspected our topo map and peered down the east ridge of Mt. Kineo and decided to try a bushwack down the Mt.Kineo east ridge to the Buckhorn Mountain trail near Point 8,720. The Buckhorn Mountain trail is marked on the Pikes Peak Atlas.
Upon leaving the Mt. Kineo summit, we had to traverse the rock outcroppings by going around on the north. After blazing trail through 1’-2’ of snow for about 500’ we successfully traversed the rock outcroppings and headed down the steep yet manageable east face which was relatively free of snow and downfall. We basically followed the ridge, traversing obstacles where necessary, down to the Buckhorn Mountain trail. We went off trail and over both Points 8,720 and 8,540 which both have great views of the surrounding area including back at Mt. Kineo
. Just below Point 8,540 we took a right turn at a fork in the Buckhorn Mountain trail to descend down to Gold Camp Road. As we approached Gold Camp Road we laughed about how cool this off-trail ridge walk had been and wondered how many people have actually tried this.
We loved this adventure! We are now looking for other improvised routes in the Colorado Springs area.