Subscribe!Get all the best of On Walkabout by subscribing.

Hikes In Colorado: The Cameron Cone Trail

Basic Information

  • Name: Cameron Cone
  • Where: Colorado Springs, Colorado
  • Elevation: 10,707 feet
  • Distance: 7.8 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 4,235 feet
  • Difficulty: EasyMediumHardDifficult
  • More Information: SummitPost.org

Route Up the Mountain

cc route

Topographic Map of the Trail

Cameron Cone Trail Map

Elevation Map

Cameron Cone Elevation Map

Narrative

Over the long Martin Luther King holiday weekend I wanted to try a challenging hike since I had not completed a difficult hike in over two months when I climbed to the summit of the 14,003 foot Mt. Huron.  I originally wanted to climb another 14-thousand foot peak, but the avalanche conditions were not looking good because of all the snow the Colorado Rockies have received so far this year.  So I decided to settle on a peak closer to home that still had some significant elevation gain, Cameron Cone:


Cameron Cone (center) rising above the Garden of the Gods.


Cameron Cone (left) as seen from the Garden of the Gods.

This peak is one of the most prominent landmarks outside of Colorado Springs.  In fact it is so prominent that General William Jackson Palmer the founder of Colorado Springs allowed his friend General Robert Alexander Cameron who worked on Palmer’s survey team to name the Cone after himself.  Here is a local Gazette newspaper blog posting about Cameron:


Robert Alexander Cameron

On a summer day 142 years ago Wednesday, former Union Army Gen. Robert Cameron stood before 30 or so frontiersmen gathered around a log cabin, drove a stake into the ground and announced the founding of a new community: Colorado Springs.

The town was conceived by Cameron’s boss, Gen. William Jackson Palmer, who paid $10,000 for about 1,000 acres near the confluence of Monument and Fountain creeks and envisioned a resort town, a home for him and his new wife, Queen, as well as a headquarters for his fledgling Denver & Rio Grande Railroad.

The first stake ceremony on July 31, 1871, was described by Marshall Sprague in his excellent history “Newport in the Rockies.” Sprague said that Cameron, whose name still adorns a cone-shaped mountain visible south of Pikes Peak, had spent the previous weeks platting home and business lots, streets and parks from Monument Creek east and running two miles north and south from the stake.

Palmer had picked the spot by pointing to the summit of Pikes Peak and telling Cameron to use it as the center line for his new community’s main street: Pikes Peak Avenue.  [The Gazette Side Streets Blog]


Cameron Cone (left) as seen from Palmer Park.


Cameron Cone as seen from Waldo Canyon.

The trailhead for this hike is located at the parking lot where Barr Trail and the nearby Incline begins in Manitou Springs:


View Larger Map

At the start of Barr Trail as well as the the top of the Incline, Cameron Cone is the most prominent peak that can be seen:

At the Barr Trail parking lot I paid the $5 fee and then walked back down to Ruxton Avenue below the lot which is where this large Victorian home is located:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Once on Ruxton I then walked through the small neighborhood to the end of the road:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

At the end of the road there is a locked gate that I walked around on the left:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

After the gate I continued to walk down the dirt road and passed by this large rock:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Shortly after passing the large rock I came upon the two bridges that I needed to cross in order to get to the other side of Ruxton Creek:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

After crossing the creek I then found myself at the Cog Railway tracks:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I walked a short ways up the train tracks until I saw a utility pole with the number 044954 on it:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Across the railway tracks from the pole in the trees is the trailhead:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

It is difficult to see, but the trail is in the trees and I found it in surprisingly good shape.  I had read online about how difficult route finding for this trail is, but the trail was actually easy to follow.  The trail switchbacks towards the west and southwest up the hills below Cameron Cone:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Really the biggest challenge for me was making sure I did not take one of the many social trails in the wrong direction.  Fortunately at some intersections previous hikers put branches across the social trails to warn hikers not to go that way:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I actually found myself going the wrong direction for a short distance and turned around and retraced my steps and notice the correct trail that was covered in snow which caused me to miss it:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

So at this trail intersection I found a large branch to lay across the social trail to warn other hikers heading towards Cameron Cone that this is the wrong way:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

At the start of the trail there was not a whole lot of snow but as I got around 7,500 feet in altitude the amount of snow on the hillside was noticeably increasing:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

So I stopped to take a short break and put on my gaiters and microspikes:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

The microspikes ended up being useful in some sections that had some slick compacted snow.  Besides the sometimes slick conditions I also had to contend with an increasing amount of trees that had fallen across the trail:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

This would be a continuing theme throughout the hike because obviously the US Forest Service does not maintain this trail because there are many fallen trees that needed to be climbed over on this hike.  As I continued to gain elevation on the trail I eventually had some nice early morning views looking back towards Manitou Springs:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I eventually reached a viewpoint that had a nice view of Pikes Peak to the West:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

This is the first time on the hike that I was able to spot this iconic mountain.  Another mountain I spotted on the trail that looked a lot like Cameron Cone, but wasn’t was the 9,046 foot Eagle Mountain:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I ended up finding out later that Eagle Mountain actually has a large pavilion built on top of it if you can believe it!  Shortly after the viewpoint I reached Magog Rock:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

This rock is very impressive to see up close because it is just so big.  Even when viewed from Barr Trail this rock is quite impressive:


Magog Rock (center) as viewed from Barr Trail.

Once at Magog Rock I had to do some minor rock scrambling to the right of the rock to continue on the trail:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

After completing the rock scramble I had another great view of Pikes Peak to the West:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I could also see Gog Rock and Cameron Cone as well for the first time during this hike:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Between Magog and Gog Rocks there is a short ridgeline that provides some really nice views of the area.  Here is the view looking West towards Pikes Peak with Sheep Mountain visible in the foreground:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Here is a closer look at the 9,802 foot Sheep Mountain:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Here is the view looking East towards Colorado Springs where the Waldo Canyon Burn Scar was easily noticeable:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

After crossing the ridgeline I then hiked around the left side of Gog Rock:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Fortunately I did not see anything Satanic during my crossings of Magog and Gog Rocks.  For those that do not know the story of Gog and Magog these two names are referenced in Christianity and Islam as being either actually people or places that will assist Satan in the destruction of Israel at some point in the future.  There was nothing being destroyed on this day because it was an absolutely gorgeous January weekend as I took in another view of Cameron Cone from Gog Rock:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

From Gog Rock I had hiked about 2 miles and gained 2,000 feet in elevation within that distance.  So I could definitely feel the work on out on my calf muscles, but I still had plenty of energy to summit Cameron Cone with.  From Gog Rock dropped down into what appeared to be an area used for camping because there is a road that accesses the clearing.  The clearing is National Forest Land, but the road I think is not part of the National Forest since there was a property boundary sign:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

So the road is probably owned by the nearby Crystal Park development.  From the road I began to walk South to access the trailhead to Cameron Cone.  I was surprised to see that it appeared that this road has actually seen a lot of traffic recently due to all the tire prints:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

The road actually drops a little bit in elevation at one point, but by staying on the road it continued to take me towards the trailhead:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

As I walked down the road I also spotted the large pavilion that had been built on top of Eagle Mountain:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

That has to be one of the biggest pavilions in the Springs all the way up there on top of a 9,000 foot mountain.  Eventually I came upon the Cameron Cone trailhead which is designated by this Forest Service Boundary Sign and a no motorized vehicles allowed sign:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

The trailhead is very hard miss, but if for some reason I did pass it the road would have took me into the Crystal Park housing development.  From the trailhead the trail had a lot of snow on it, but was not very steep:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Where ever there wasn’t any snow I then had to deal with the dreaded scree:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Whenever there was a clearing I could see Cameron Cone towering over me which was a constant reminder that I still had a lot of elevation to gain in order to reach the summit of this peak:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Eventually the trail ascends into a thick forest where various pink and green flags mark the trail:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Fortunately at least one person had been up this trail in recent days because I was able to follow their footprints which made route finding easier:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

The last 1,500 feet of elevation gain on this hike reminded me of trying to go up the Incline, but without the railway tie stairs.  Instead I had either snow, scree, or rocks to hike up:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

It was really hard work because of the two steps forward, one step feeling caused by either the scree of slick snow.  However, I kept at it and worked up a good sweat that was rewarded by finally reaching the summit of Cameron Cone:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

The snow covered summit of the Cone was marked with this cairn:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I even found this US Geological Survey marker on the summit:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I had read that there was a register on the summit, but I could not find it because it was likely buried somewhere in the snow.  There was also a lot of trees up there that made taking pictures a little difficult at first:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Even though it was slightly obscured by the trees, Pikes Peak was still quite scenic to see:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

After sitting down and changing my socks and drinking some water I went ahead and took a picture of myself on the summit as well:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

The next thing I did was work my way around the rocks up there to try and find a good shot of Pikes Peak.  I eventually found a spot that offered me nearly unobscured views of both the 14,115 foot Pikes Peak and the 12,367 foot Almagre Mountain:

Picture from My Hike Up Cameron Cone

Here is a closer look at Almagre Mountain:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Both these great mountains I have hiked before.  You can read about my prior hikes up these mountains at the below links:

To the East I could also see Lake Moraine down below a high ridgeline that extends from Pikes Peak:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

To the North I could see some of the high peaks of the Front Range located East of Denver.  This snowcapped peak in the distance may be the 14,264 foot Mt. Evans, but I was not sure:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

You can read about my hike to the summit of Mt. Evans at the below link:

To the South I could see the 11,499 foot Mt. Rosa out in the distance:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Here is a closer look at Mt. Rosa:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Mt. Rosa is another great mountain that I have hiked up before in the region.  You can read more about my hike at the below link:

To the Southeast I could see the towers on top of the famous Cheyenne Mountain:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I had to leave my perch on the rock outcropping to try and take some pictures looking towards the East.  This would prove more difficult to do because of the steep drop off on the East side of the Cone.  So I had to maneuver around to multiple locations to take photos.  I was eventually able to take photos of all the major landmarks of Colorado Springs as they are seen from Cameron Cone.  Here is the view looking directly towards downtown:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Here is a closer look at downtown:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Here is a look towards the Southeast where the Broadmoor Hotel is located and the Lower Gold Camp Road could be seen making its way through the mountains below:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Colorado Springs is home to many military installations with Peterson AFB on the East side of Springs being easily visible from the Cone:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Even Schriever AFB located 15 miles to the East of Colorado Springs could easily be spotted from Cameron Cone due to its highly visible white antenna domes:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

To the Southeast I could spot the city’s other military base, Ft. Carson:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Looking straight down from the Cone I could see the Crystal Park residential development directly below me:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

This bowl of land located at about 8,500 feet of elevation features a number of cabins and other large homes that have been built on this privately owned property for a number of decades:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Looking at Crystal Park’s blog, it says that homes started being built up here in the 1880’s to include having a toll booth to charge people entering the park:

At least there was no toll booth to charge me to go up Cameron Cone via Crystal Park.  Another place I could see down below the Cone was the Red Rock Canyon Open Space which is a great place to take some short hikes and see some of the city’s famous red rocks:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I could also see Austin Bluffs and the mesas of Palmer Park:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Below Austin Bluffs I could see the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs (UCCS):

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Looking towards the north I could see Colorado Springs’ most famous public park, the Garden of the Gods:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Here is a closer look at the Garden of the Gods:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I spent about an hour on the summit resting and taking in the views before heading back down. Of course going down was much easier than going up, but the initial 1,500 foot descent from the Cone was quite treacherous. I slipped a number of times on the scree and snow:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I fell seriously only one time, but managed to smash my shoulder and bang my knee into this large rock:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

My shoulder and knee were sore the rest of the day, but felt fine by the next morning. So I took it very slow down the remainder of the initial descent from the Cone. However, once I got off the steep portion of the Cone the hike was quite easy and I enjoyed taking in the views of the surrounding scenery to include having a birds eye view of the Waldo Canyon Burn Scar:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I even spotted Williams Canyon on the way down where the local tourist attraction, the Cave of the Winds is located:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I also had a nice view of the gigantic pavilion on top of Eagle Mountain as well.  This pavilion has to have the best view of any picnic site in the city:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Here is a panorama of the views I had as I descended down the Cone:

Picture from My Hike Up Cameron Cone

I eventually came upon the trailhead again at the dirt road:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

From here I walked back down the dirt road to the North:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

As I walked down the road I could noticeably feel the temperature dropping as the sun began to set behind Cameron Cone:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Soon enough I found myself approaching the clearing below Gog Rock:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Gog Rock is quite impressive when viewing it from this direction:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

While doing some minor rock scrambling to get around Gog Rock I just kept hoping these rocks that have probably been perched like this for centuries did not suddenly give into the power of erosion and gravity as I passed underneath them:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Next I was back on the ridgeline that extends between Gog and Magog Rocks:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

For those that do not feel like hiking all the way up to Cameron Cone, just hiking up to this ridgeline to take in the views is worth the effort.  For example look at this awesome view of the Garden of the Gods:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Then across from me on the ridgeline was Mt. Manitou:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

To the West was the mighty Pikes Peak:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Here is a panorama picture I took of this awesome view from this ridgeline:

Picture from My Hike Up Cameron Cone

From the ridgeline I then began my descent back to Magog Rock and Manitou Springs even farther down below:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I then came upon Magog Rock and did the minor rock scramble to get below it:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

From there I began the long switchbacking descent down towards Manitou Springs:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Along the way I made sure to enjoy the views once again of the Garden of the Gods:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

As well as Eagle Peak that towered over me to the Southeast:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

After about 45 minutes of descending from Magog Rock, I found myself back at the Cog Railway tracks:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

From here I walked a short distance back down the tracks and followed the trail down to Ruxton Creek:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I crossed over the two bridges again and walked back down Ruxton Avenue towards the Barr Trail parking lot:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

After a short walk I was back at the intersection of Ruxton and Hydro Street which leads up to the parking lot:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

From the Barr Trail parking lot I took one last look back towards Cameron Cone satisfied that I had finally completed this hike that I had long been meaning to do:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

After packing up my gear, I drove from the parking lot over to the Seven Minute Spring in Manitou:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

Whenever I go hiking in the area I always pick up some water here from Seven Minute Spring because I think it is the best tasting of all the spring water in Manitou.  While filling my water bottle with spring water I noticed for the large pavilion on top of Eagle Mountain above Manitou Springs:

Picture from Cameron Cone, Colorado

I ended up drinking an entire water bottle of spring water at once and then filled it up again for the ride back home.  That shows how much of a sweat I worked up getting up and down Cameron Cone.  It was worth the effort though.

Conclusion

In total it took me 8 hours to complete the hike.  4 hours up, 1 hour on the summit, and 3 hours to hike back down.  My Garmin measured the hike at 7.8 miles with an elevation gain of 4,235 feet. Before I left on the hike I figured that it would take me 6 hours round-trip to reach the summit. As it turned out I was off by two hours which shows that I underestimated the Cone. So Cameron Cone is definitely harder than it looks, but for people who live in the Springs area, it is well worth hiking up sometime. Except for the final 1,500 feet the trail is in good shape, the mountain has a challenging elevation gain, and the views are a great reward for working so hard to reach the summit of this peak. Just do not underestimate it like I did.

5 Comments
  1. Dobbs
  2. Dobbs

Add a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *