Eastern El Paso County isn’t the first place you’d think to take a hike. The windswept prairie might as well be Kansas, with Pikes Peak only visible if standing on high ground. But hidden among the plains is a geological gem: 750 acres of eroded gullies, rocky spires, and hoodoos. There is evidence of humans in this place going back 9,000 years. Today, it’s a county park, and this four-mile trail makes a loop around and through the Paint Mines, which is an easy hike with little elevation gain. The trail makes a figure-8, so it’s not necessary to hike the entire loop. Spend some time exploring the gullies and washouts in the Paint Mines proper and marvel at the geologic forces that could make such a place out of the prairie. The park is located on Paint Mines Road south of Calhan.
- There is a restroom and interpretive signs at the trailhead.
- The trail is open to foot traffic only and dogs are prohibited.
- Try visiting the Paint Mines after a snowstorm. It’s a whole different experience.
Recommended season(s): Year-round.
–R. Scott Rappold