This pyramid-shaped mountain isn’t the highest peak in the Colorado Springs skyline. It’s third-highest. But it has a remarkable summit, with splendid views of Pikes Peak and the Sangre de Cristo Range far to the southwest. Mount Rosa also has the distinction of being the mountain Zebulon Pike climbed when he was trying to ascend the peak that bears his name. He never made it. The length of the hike depends on where you start. From Old Stage Road, turn onto Forest Service Road 379, which goes to Frosty’s Park. Passenger car drivers must park here and walk 1.5 miles up the road to Frosty’s Park, a popular camping area for ATV and dirt bike enthusiasts. After the meadow turn right and hike along Trail No. 672, also known as Nelson’s Trail, for less than 2 miles. Turn right on Trail No. 673, which pushes steeply up .75 miles to the small rocky summit. This is a rare unobstructed view of the mountains beloved by many in Colorado Springs. Enjoy it.
It took me two attempts to climb Mount Rosa. The first attempt began on a hot May day in Colorado Springs. Snow wasn’t even on our minds. But shortly after turning off Trail 672 for the push to the summit, we encountered waist-deep snow. We were in shorts. My hiking partner was in sneakers. We didn’t make it very far. It was a lesson learned that no matter how hot it is in town, it’s a different world up there.
- Watch for dirt bikes on Trail 672. They have the right-of-way over hikers.
- To make a longer day out of Mount Rosa, start at North Cheyenne Cañon and hike to Saint Mary’s Falls. From the falls, it’s three miles and a couple thousand feet of climbing to the summit of Rosa. It’s a much longer day than the standard route but doesn’t require a long drive on Old Stage Road and takes you through some of the lesser-visited parts of these mountains.
- This is easy as a day hike for Colorado Springs residents who get up early enough, but campers will find plenty of sites in Frosty’s Park and near the turn-off from Old Stage Road.
Recommended season(s): Mid-spring to late fall.
–R. Scott Rappold