Explore the most popular trails near Penrose with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

Penrose, Colorado Map
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This can be a great hike - if you're prepared. I completed this hike with 3 friends this past Saturday, August 11, and we all found it more challenging than expected, especially given that the most recent review here says "first easy hike...perfect for our 7-year-old's first time in CO"! I'm wondering if either they did a different trail or they just have the toughest 7-year-old in the world.

The first challenging aspect is that this hike is located in the true Colorado desert, much of it without cover so you're hiking in the full sun. Second, it's a a lower elevation than most of the hikes we do in CO so there's not the normal escape from the summer heat that we're used to. I would not recommend doing this hike in the summer at all unless you have plenty of water - as in bring what you think you need then bring about half as much again - and you have the proper summer-time gear, like wide brimmed hats, lots of sunblock, etc.; or you hit the trail VERY early in the day before it gets warm.

This trail is very rugged. The condition of the trail matches the fact that it is in a State Wildlife Area as it definitely wild! In many places it is overgrown to the point that you are pushing through vegetation without being able to see where you're going. Often we were essentially skirting the side of the canyon on a single-file trail. The trail itself is covered in largish rocks that force you to keep an eye on where you're placing your feet. If you want to take in the scenery, which really is beautiful, you almost have to stop to avoid a misstep.

The trail isn't always clearly marked either but we did download the All Trails map and it helped us get back on track a couple of times, BUT, there is one section that apparently has been rerouted since the map was last updated. When going clockwise, right as you're leaving edge of the creek for the last time, there is a fork in the trail and the All Trails map tells you to go left, even though the trail on the right is more well-used and there are a few rocks partially blocking the left fork. We thought we should trust the All Trails map though and went left and wound up in what appeared to be a bear's bathroom! The trail just tapered out at an area of undergrowth that was covered in bear scat! We even passed a bear scratching tree with a big clump of bear fur on the ground below it. We wondered if the trail was rerouted to avoid a bear den! In any case we turned around and took the right fork and got back on track.

The length of this loop is also a little longer than stated here. We started recording with the All Trails app as soon as we got out of the car, which was parked very close to the trail, and our round trip distance measured 8.2 miles. I think the 7.5 mile distance doesn't include the walk from the parking lot to the actual trail head.

Overall I did enjoy this hike. The canyon itself and the creek are really beautiful and I loved that there was only one other car in the parking lot when we arrived - something unheard of in most places in CO on a summer Saturday. But as I stated earlier, it was definitely more challenging that we expected and I don't know that I would do it again any time soon. Maybe in the autumn and would still bring a lot more water.

Our traditional first easy hike to get acclimated. Perfect for our 7-year-old’s first time in CO. Also where we scattered one of our dog’s ashes - so has lots of sentimental value attached for us. Beautiful.

on Phantom Canyon Road

1 month ago

Beautiful around every turn! Pretty relaxing drive, not much traffic and amazing views for a picnic lunch!

off road driving
1 month ago

As others have noted, this is an easy route. A 4WD is not required, though care must be taken on heavily washboarded sections and a few other rough spots. The family sedan should be able to handle it; but slow down on the washboards so as to maintain control of the vehicle. The dropoffs are spectacular, though not particularly dangerous for a sensible driver. There is plenty of room on the road surface even in the one lane stretches; no need for airsickness, so to speak.

Though much of the road is narrow; even down to one lane, there are ample places to pull over to let oncoming traffic by.

There are lots of spots for a picnic lunch. There are even a couple of vault latrines (restrooms) spaced out along the route.

Though we took this route on a Saturday, we met with very little traffic.

There was a light breeze, the smell of pinon and other conifers, lots of birdsong.

This is a great family fun trip. It really isn't 'off road', and doesn't present any difficulties or dangers as an expedition with small kids; just keep 'em away from the dropoffs. Take lots of water.

scenic driving
1 month ago

Should have checked the reviews first. Friends told me it would be a great first trail for my new Jeep. 4 wheel drive not necessary and the wash boarding was quite excessive. Great looking campsites and the views were great.

hiking
3 months ago

My wife and I hiked the loop clockwise on May 8. We recommend that direction of travel for first timers. This trail is more challenging on the western side because of the ups and downs along the cliff side and a couple of creek crossings, and it's usually best to do the harder part first when you're fresh. It's not a difficult trail, but it falls into the upper end of "moderate." If instead you go counterclockwise and find the west side too much to handle, it's a long way back to the trailhead the way you came. Also, the west facing cliff side can get very hot in the afternoon, whereas the deep canyon and tree cover on the eastern side can be a welcome relief on a hot day.
The grade on the west side of the summit seems to be a little steeper than on the east slope, but either side is about equally safe for either ascent or descent if you're careful. Be aware there are a number of places along the way where alternate paths may lead you astray. Keep your Alltrails app handy and check it often to ensure you're on the trail. One place where I recommend a detour from the Alltrails map: at the northwest corner of the trail you can take an approx. half mile detour that takes you along the side of the hill up above the creek. It's easier to follow, there are no creek crossings, and it's a bit shorter.
Overall, it's a great hike with beautiful vistas from the summit and some amazing scenery along the west wide. Take lots of water, and plan for about five hours if it's your first time.

hiking
3 months ago

I’m 55, 6’3”, 240 lbs...about 40 lbs overweight and the least fit that I’ve ever been. This hike is no way to begin a fitness program. Going counter clockwise, the first third is a gentle uphill, no problem. Make the left onto Telephone Pole Trail and things get ridiculous in a hurry and stay that way to the top. Coming down the backside, the trail is too steep and overgrown, it’s dangerous for a big guy. Once down from the steep section, I figured it would get better, it didn’t. It’s pretty much a mountain goat trail with countless steep ups and downs. At one point, there’s an option to drop from the cliff to hike along the creek, I took it. Could not imagine another up hill section along the cliff. The creek was a mistake. Recent rain made dry shoe crossings impossible. I crossed the creek twice before deciding my best chances would be to scurry up the the hillside in hopes of hitting the main trail. That was about the time my water ran out, 85 Oz is not enough. That’s when my knee through in the towel. It was the thought of being eaten by bears and mountain lions after dark that motivated me to complete the hike.

Don’t get me wrong, the hike is spectacular, especially on the Beaver Creek side. I’ll do it again. Next time, more water, a pair of walking poles, and perhaps a sandwich...a big sandwich. Coming from California, the idea of a spectacular hike on a perfect Sunday without seeing another person does not happen, especially so close to home.

Nice Hike, Did the hike counter clockwise, it gets somewhat thick on the backside. Did not run into anyone.

hiking
3 months ago

Beautiful hike. Did it counter-clockwise. Trail is clear for the first half; second half was more overgrown, but not bad. Was easy to stay on trail if you check the app periodically as the notes on the map are great. I took the path that goes up and down the side of the canyon to avoid the multiple creek crossings. The 1 place where you did have to cross, there were logs across (not real stable, but use an extra stick or hiking poles to help balance), so I didn’t even get my shoes wet. :) Would be unbearably hot during the summer, but nice today when the high was in the upper 60’s. Took about 4.5 hours (avid hiker in decent shape), but make no mistake, it is pretty challenging!

The trail was great. I did not have any trouble staying on it. It’s not well marked but it’s a clear foot path through the woods. If you bring your phone with this map on it you will have no trouble. I did not have to cross the creek. If you stay to the east it’s no problem. There was some snow on the trail in spots but not more than an inch or two.

I hiked it by myself in 3.5 hours and it came out to exactly 7.5 miles measuring from my Apple Watch and iPhone. I didn’t get to see any wildlife but I heard hooves running on the mountain at one point so I know I was close. Overall it was a great hike and I would do it again.

UPDATE

April:

Creek was not frozen.

You will come upon a small sign near the beginning of the trail (Creek/Trail), you need to take the "TRAIL", which will be to your right, to avoid the multiple creek crossings that others are talking about. You will still have to cross the creek twice in the same area to stay on the trail. There are logs/rocks at the creek crossings, however will take some skill to cross.

February:
Beautiful area and really nice long hike, the creek was frozen in some areas, which made it easy to cross.

Most of the trail did not have tree cover, sunscreen recommended.

Had snow on the trail in some areas, about 2-3 inches.

Arrived at the trail-head around 11 am and parking lot had a few cars, but didn't see anyone on the trail.

A few primitive camping areas along the trail, tagged them with pictures with my recordings.

AllTrails does not have a way to communicate with other outdoor enthusiast, I can be reached on Facebook Messenger if you have any questions about this trail.

off road driving
6 months ago

I drove my BRZ (low clearance sports car) through this scenic road and had no issues other than a couple of bumps and a pile of gravel hitting the bumper. I also saw other sports cars with low clearance, a motorcycle and a prius going in opposite direction. As long ad your car has good tire, there shouldn't be any issues. Don't go fast around blind corners as you have no idea who will be coming at you, but other than that, there are not much to worry about.

Two rest area available.
Drive time: 1 hour - 1 hour 30 minutes

nice senic drive. No 4x4 needed. nice Side roads to test off road confidence for other courses.

Pretty hike and saw no one else the entire time. That said I went counter clockwise and had wished I went clockwise. I hiked this alone and once I crossed the west and east confluence of beaver creek I began losing confidence in my ability to cross the stream lower down 3 more times where it would likely get deeper.

I went with my gut and turned back as I was alone , and if I jogged back the way I came I might make it back to my car before dark. Didn't want to risk injuring myself in the stream crossings and didn't want to risk getting stranded in wet clothes

Crossed the creek 4x to make the loop. Ran into a hunter who said you could bypass the water if you turned left just before the collapsed metal structure going counterclockwise. Next time we will bring our teva's to speed up the crossings. Overall mileage was 12.0 from the parking lot, so I'm not sure where 7.5 miles comes from...

hiking
10 months ago

A wonderful hike with many campsites. Plentiful water on lower half of the trail.

fishing
Wednesday, August 09, 2017

Saw a mountain lion and lost the trail going up out of the drainage

camping
Monday, August 07, 2017

There are some great free camping spots within the first 10 miles or so on this road heading north from canon city

Tuesday, August 01, 2017

This is a gorgeous drive. We've done it twice now, once in the morning and once at sunset. Both were incredible.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Gorgeous

hiking
Saturday, July 29, 2017

Gorgeous trail! I went counterclockwise. The river was very high and flowing pretty fast which made the river crossings difficult and quite scary. Trail is quite overgrown in a lot of places and had to backtrack a bit especially to find places to cross the river. Overall beautiful trail and very serene, I didn't see anyone until back to the trailhead.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Easy drive. Several places to pull off and picnic and observe nature.

hiking
Tuesday, June 27, 2017

It was a nice trail with a pretty decent climb. We went counter clockwise and when we hit the creek the water was too high and flowing too fast for us to cross. We had to turn back and go the way we came. Turned into a 9.5 mile hike.

off road driving
Wednesday, June 07, 2017

loved it!

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Nice ride, not a lot of spots for rv camping,

hiking
Sunday, May 07, 2017

Awesome hike. As far as everyone commenting on the trail being hard to find at times, that is true. However I found it as a positive thing, I considered it a slight challenge. It also means there is less foot traffic thus less people in the area. Which is great imo!

I had a person with me that is out of shape and this hike was probably the hardest thing he has ever done. For me, I would put it as slightly above moderate intensity and I am average build. So you can use that to asses where you might be grouped.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Here's some advice. Go clockwise and you will have wet feet in the beginning of your hike. Counter clockwise and you'll save the wet feet for the last couple of miles. You will lose the trail multiple times when you are hiking along beaver creek. You will have to traverse this creek about a half dozen times. If you decide to start the trail counter clockwise (to the right at the the start of the loop) MAKE SURE TO TURN LEFT AT THE SIGN THAT SAYS POWER LINES. This is the top section of loop. Enjoy the area and PACK OUT WHAT YOU PACK IN. PLEASE!

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

So..... the trail is the most poorly marked trail I have ever done. So we went on this trail and after 11 miles and 5 hours we finally completed it. We got off the trail numerous times without even realizing it, had to climb up rocks to get to a place to turn around, caught in a rock slide that put is approximately 700 feet down the side of the mountain. With this being said it is a beautiful area and we enjoyed the overall experience. But be well prepared to get lost off trail. Will probably due this again now that we know where the actual trail runs. lol.

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

This was an awesome hike- great views and light traffic. HOWEVER, the trails are not marked well and we ended up on the power line trail for a total of 12 miles over very rough terrain. We had not anticipated that much of a challenge.

backpacking
Friday, March 10, 2017

Hiked here a couple times. Love the scenery and there usually aren't many other people out there. The trail does go all the way around, but the trail is not well maintained or marked. There's a spot where it seems like the trail just ends but if you scramble down the rocks to the creek it keeps going. Definitely a harder hike with some tricky spots and creek crossings where you will more than likely get your feet wet.

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