Tenney Crags’ proximity to Colorado Springs and alpine-like climbing experience are what bring climbers here. Climbing season can be year-round, depending on conditions, but prime months are May through September.
What Makes It Great
This climbing area high above Colorado Springs tops out at just over 10,000 feet, and it brings with it all the thrills and risks of alpine climbing. A long approach starts near the intersection of High Drive and Bear Creek along the Palmer Trail, a popular trail that begins in Bear Creek Park.
This remote spot is located between two creek drainages. Two large rock formations - Sentinel Rock (known to have crumbling granite) and Specimen Rock - are to the north of North Cheyenne Canyon and are visible from Colorado Springs. Specimen Rock is the southernmost. These formations are included in most descriptions of the rock formations called Tenney Crags; they are among five 10,000-foot mountains that rise between the drainages of Bear Creek and Ruxton Creek, according to Summitpost.org.
Who is Going to Love It
Sweeping views from the summit of the crags make this a memorable climb. The route to the top, Far Left Cracks, is rated 5.9 and features three cracks that merge. The trail to the Tenney Crags is popular among hikers as well as climbers. A 10-mile round trip that features a 2,000-3,000-foot elevation gain, the trail is part of a maze of trails in the Bear Creek Basin. Those trails are accessible year-round, but are often extremely icy in the winter from freezing runoff. The Tenney Crags area is also known among rock hounds for its amazonite, fluorite, hematite, and smoky quartz.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From I-25 in Colorado Springs, take U.S. Highway 24 west to Eighth Street. Turn left and head south to Cheyenne Boulevard. Cross Cresta Road and continue to a fork in the road; take the right fork for North Cheyenne Canyon Road. Drive through the canyon past Helen Hunt Falls and continue to where the pavement ends. Park there, at the Lower Gold Camp Road trailhead.
The Tenney Crags Trail is on the north side of trail No. 667, above the junction with the Bear Creek Trail (No. 666). If High Drive is open, generally from May through November, you can continue past the Gold Camp Road parking lot to the Mount Buckhorn/Mays Peak saddle and pick up a trailhead which puts you on Buckhorn Trail No. 667. Climbers who know residents of Crystal Park, a gated community above Manitou Springs, can access Tenney Crags from the north.
This is a permit-free climbing area. The Crags can be climbed year-round, depending on weather conditions. There may be occasional closures because of nesting raptors in the area; for information, check in at the Bear Creek Regional Park Nature Center at 245 Bear Creek Road in Colorado Springs. The access to Tenney Crags might change in the coming years because of land issues and sales or exchanges.