6.2 miles round trip to Pancake Rocks, or 2.6 miles round trip to Horsethief Falls.
Destination Distance From Downtown
3 of 5 diamonds
Time To Complete
On Leash Only
Many trails in the Colorado mountains are hard to reach during the winter. The beauty of Horsethief Park/Pancake Rocks trails is their accessibility year-round.
What Makes It Great
The trailhead with its ample parking heads up and over the gated Little Ike Tunnel (closed when the highway was rerouted). The trail is wide and with a flat surface, and after .75 miles, it levels out a bit. Watch for toxic amanita muscaria mushrooms – easy to identify because of their red tops with white polka dots - along the trail, and keep your dogs away from them. After a rocky section, the trees thin. At the first big clearing, turn left and cross the stream to the meadow called Horsethief Park. This broad meadow is a sunny respite year-round, and also serves as a portal to the Ring the Peak Trail, a 63-mile trail system created by linking trails around Pikes Peak, and Sentinel Point, a rocky 12,527-foot peak.
Take the left for Ring the Peak, or the right for Sentinel Point, a rocky 12,527-foot peak with a trail marked with cairns to its summit. (Sentinel is best climbed in summer or fall).
By hooking up with the Ring the Peak Trail, you can hike through a pine forest carpeted by emerald moss all the way over to the Crags, another popular hiking and camping area. For a less taxing exploration, park a car at the Putney Gulch trailhead near the Crags, drive to Horsethief Park and start your hike there, shuttling back to get the first car after you’re finished.
If your destination on this day is Pancake Rocks, turn around and hike back to where you crossed the stream. After the crossing, turn left and watch for a sign for Pancake Rocks. This is the more difficult part of this trip, heading steeply uphill on darkly shaded switchbacks that can be brutally cold in the winter. The payoff: whimsical rock formations that look like stacks of pancakes, and excellent views of faraway mountain ranges.
Who is Going to Love It
Because it is so accessible, this trail system is popular among hikers, mountain bikers, snowshoers and cross-country skiers. It’s perfect spot for backcountry camping without a long hike in.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Colorado Springs, take U.S. Highway 24 west to Divide. Turn left on Colorado Highway 67 toward Cripple Creek. After the closed Little Ike Tunnel, watch for parking on both sides of the road. There is no trailhead marking here, but the trail is obvious.