So for quite some time, we have been scoping out some trails higher up the Gold Camp/Cheyenne Canon area to add to our running repertoire and we started exploring today. Believe it or not, some of this area has only recently come out from the snow and from what we hear, up on top of Jones Park and Frosty Park, there is still some snow running to be had. I'll pass on that...
So the plan was to drive up Gold Camp Road to the Cap'n Jacks trailhead and start our run with a mellow climb on Gold Camp to the Buckhorn trail. Gold Camp Road is part of the old mining corridor from Cripple Creek to Colorado Springs. There are several tunnels on Gold Camp and we would be using two of them to complete our route today. Tunnel #1, with two cyclists coming through, was just a few hundred feet from the trailhead.
Standing at the top of Cheyenne Canon right past the first tunnel. Our run started a bit over 7200' elevation, so it was a fair amount higher than many of our frequent routes. If you run the Columbine trail up from the Cheyenne Canon visitor's center, you can pop out here after already climbing 1200' - we skipped that today.
Coming out of Tunnel #2, we had a bit of sunshine. It was short lived though, as the monsoon pattern rolled in by mid-morning.
Hope the legs are loose now - the start of the Buckhorn Trail and the climbing begins in earnest. From here there is a push of over 800' vertical in a bit over a mile - get the lactic acid moving through those muscles!!!
After the Buckhorn trail tops out, there are a bunch of rolling hills and quite a few whoop-de-doo sections from the mountain bikes and motorcycles - forgot to mention these are full multi-use trails, so keep the ears peeled for motos!
From the top of Buckhorn, Gold Camp road is seen cutting through the hillside as it continues south and west.
There are fantastic panoramic views from atop these trails - Gold Camp continues to climb into the mountains far off in the distance as Kathleen prepares for the roller coaster ride off of Buckhorn to the junction with Cap'n Jacks.
Steve climbing out one of the last grunts on Cap'n Jacks trail before the descent to the trailhead. This trail is a series of rollers, more down than up, but still has a few steep punches that really drag on the legs. (They are MUCH easier to roll on a mountain bike, or moto if you're so inclined...) There are also some really cool 10 - 15' high bermed chutes that are almost like a decomposed granite bobsled run - lots of fun, especially when we have had the rains we had this week. Usually the granite is somewhat like running on ball bearings marinated in 10w40 but after a rain, the traction is sweet!
Kathleen is flying down the trail headed for the finish. It was a good day for her to test the recovery and it seems to be good so far - Yeah! The Gold Camp - Buckhorn - Cap'n Jacks loop is about 7.5 miles with 2400' vertical gain - a nice hard workout and we already have some ideas to add to the length (and climb!) That was a good, hard run to get the gunk pushed out of Kathleen's lungs.
I went out for an extra, mellower loop after we hit the trailhead in order to extend the mileage a bit. On the way back to the trailhead, I stopped inside the tunnel for a photo - the flash created a weird glow that was kind of cool. I finished up with about 11 miles and 2800' climbing. It was a great run and opened some expansive new area for us to explore - right on! Hope everyone is well - Happy Trails this week!
Shoes - K Montrail Odyssey
S - Asics Gel Trabuco