Staunton State Park – Overlooks and old Mill

Distance8.79 mi
Elevation Gain1463 feet
My Time3 hr 25 min
DifficultyModerate
Nearest TownPine
Food NearbyJJ Madwells

For those of you who have been reading the blog you know how much I love Staunton State Park. It is the first place I really fell in love with hiking and is still my go to place if I need a hike I know I will enjoy or to break in or test out new gear. There is ample parking and the trails are all in really good shape. There are usually a ton of people here as well (for better or worse). I have been on almost every trail but have never been to the Old Mill so I decided to give that a shot today.

Staunton Ranch Trail

There are a couple of ways to get to the old mill. You could start to the east at the trailheads by the upper parking lot and take Dines Meadow to Mason Creek or you could take Staunton Ranch all the way to the Border Line trail and take Border Line back east to get to the mill.

The path I took was Staunton Ranch – Old Mill – Mason Creek – Bear Paw – Mason Creek – Dines Meadow. I don’t have much new to say about the first stretch on Staunton Ranch as I wrote about that on an earlier post when I took it towards Elk Falls. The only thing new today was I saw this dear.

Old Mill Trail

I have been to Staunton a bunch and I have never seen anyone actually take Old Mill trail. I took it today and quickly found out why. I think Old Mill might be the longest .9 mile road ever due mostly to how steep it is. In under a mile you will gain about 570 feet of elevation! The grades are routinely in the high teens to mid twenties. Alltrails had a stretch at the end with an 80% grade but I’m not sure about that. I couldn’t really see through the sweat in my eyes to confirm. I can confirm it was pretty brutal. The trail also has a lot of loose rock on it which makes the footing a bit tough and it is easy to slip on a loose section. The good news is that there is a stream running next to you the whole time so at least you can hear some running water to take your mind off of the incline.

After all that struggle surely the mill will be really cool right?!? Of course not. This was the only time I have been disappointed at Staunton. Apparently the mill collapsed in the 1970’s and all that is there is the remnants of some walls and some collapsed roofing material. I won’t lie, after the Old Mill trail I was thinking it would be paved in gold or something.

The collapsed remnants of the old mill site at Staunton State Park.

There is a bunkhouse that is still standing and some rusted out milling equipment in the woods adjacent but man I wish the mill had been something else.

Mason Creek to Bear Paw

Not to fret there is still some really nice views to come. After the mill I took the Mason Creek trail to the East. The trail is still a little bit steep at this point and gets super rocky as you get close to a large rock tower. From the mill to the high point is only about an extra 200 feet so a majority of your incline is going to be on Old Mill.

A very large rocky outcrop towers over the mason creek trail

After the Rock tower Mason Creek takes you through an Aspen forest which transitions to a Lodge pole Pine area. The trail is mostly flat here and well defined and in good shape and this is a really nice walk. At the point that Mason Creek intersects with Bear Paw you will have to take Bear Paw as they have closed Mason Creek for regrowth. Bear Paw takes you to the three overlooks though so it is worth it.

The Overlooks

Bear Paw is home to three really nice overlooks and two of them are really easily accessible. From the direction I came from the first overlook is the Eagle Cliffs Overlook. This is the most challenging to get to. There is a spur trail that takes you up to the rock and then you will have to stair step your way up rocks to climb to the top of the overlook. It also has the most all encompassing view of the area but if you are are not comfortable with steep rock steps then it might not be right for you.

The view from the Eagle Cliffs overlook.  Lions Head is mid frame with the outlines of a large area of the front range in the distance

The next overlook that you will come to is the Pike’s Peak overlook. This one is right off of the trail and is easily accessible for all that have made it this far. The views here are very similar to the Eagles Cliff view but not quite as panoramic. I’m assuming you can see down to Pikes peak by the name but it was rather hazy today.

The view from Pikes Peak overlook.  Lions Head is more prominant and the valley below is lush with trees.  Shadow's from the clouds dot the landscape.

The final overlook is the Catamount overlook. The view is similar here although it is more dominant to the south as the other two are more north west. My favorite part of Catamount is that there is a rock that is shaped like a bench. It feels like you are sitting on a bench in front of a picture window. Today when I sat on the rock a little chipmunk kept running up to me trying to get a piece of my snacks. There are pictures in the gallery below.

The view from the Catamount overlook.  The view is mostly to the south and shows rolling hills with mountains in the distance.

Mason Creek

After the overlooks there is an option to take the technical trail or the bypass. This Fatman went to the bypass which is nice and easy. You will hook back up with the Mason Creek trail and begin a slow descent to give back all that altitude you gained on the Old Mill Trail. The trail is really nice and winds around some really nice meadows and trees. When you get back to being next to the creek the trail does get more rocky and there are a few places that you will need to slow down. There are also usually a lot of bikers on this stretch that you will have to keep an ear out for. About 3/4 down the hill while you are next to the creek there is a nice little place to pull off with some benches built to enjoy the water and maybe have a snack. The final stretch is Dines Meadow which has some really nice views even though it is only a mile long. It will lead you back to the parking lot. Here are some stats from the hike.

Elevation and Distance

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 8.79 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1463 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 9,574 feet. I was also moving for a total of 3 hours and 25 minutes.

Effort

There are some very steep area’s of Staunton State Park but outside of those it is a fairly easy place to hike. There are long stretches of flat land and not too many technical areas. Here are the stats recorded on my fitbit.

Stats for the hike from Fitbit.com. On the hike I took 20, 545 steps.

Terrain

For a majority of the hike you are on a hard packed dirt path with some rocks and and roots. The Old Mill trail has more loose rocks and is steep and there are a few area’s that get a little muddy. There is also a couple of spots that you may have to cross a small creek depending on how high the creek is. I would recommend hiking boots but in some area regular athletic shoes may work.

Access

Staunton State park has parking and bathrooms at the trail heads. There is a decent amount of parking but it fills up pretty quick. There is a $9 fee per vehicle to enter the park or you can buy a season State Park pass. Staunton is located on S. Elk Creek Road in Pine, Colorado just off of 285.

Wrap up

I love Staunton and even while being disappointed by the collapsed mill I think this hike is worth it. Be prepared for Old Mill as it is very steep. You may also want to take the long way around (Border Line Trail) if you have the time and energy for an 11 mile hike. The overlooks are places that I could stay for hours and really worth the price of admission.

If you want to see my reviews of the Elk Falls or Davis Ponds hikes at Staunton you can follow the links. If you have a suggestion or comment about the hikes you can email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com or follow me on the below social media platforms. I have added this hike and all hikes on the interactive map that can be found here. Enjoy the gallery! After the hike I went to JJ Madwells for lunch. I found it by accident but am sure glad I did.

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