|Elevation Gain||1,115 ft|
|My Time||3 hr 8 min|
|Food Nearby||JJ Madwells|
Scout Line and Staunton Ranch Loop
For those of you who are avid readers of this page know how much I love Staunton State Park. I decided to take my first really winter hike there and it was absolutely beautiful. I did a moderate loop using Scout Line, Marmot Passage and Staunton Ranch Trails that was a good mix of views and effort
Staunton Ranch Loop
Starting from the Meadow Parking lot, the Staunton Ranch Trail takes you north deep into the park. This section of the trail is mostly flat with wide views of the park. At the half mile mark there is a junction with the Historic Cabins trail. This is a pretty cool trail to take if you haven’t seen it before and takes you past some of the history of Staunton.
Continuing on you pass through the more open spaces of the Staunton Ranch trail you will see tall trees and the surrounded climbing areas such as Staunton Rocks. This is a really nice and popular walk. Because it was so pretty with all the snow coverage I am placing some gratuitous pictures here.
This section of Staunton Ranch Trail lasts about 1.8 miles before you will come to a heavily wooded area. At the bottom of a small hill you will find a wood bridge and some picnic area’s which will be immediately followed by a junction.
At the junction you can continue straight to stay on Staunton Ranch, turn right to head up the Old Mill Trail, or turn left to go down the service road to connect with the Scout Line trail. For all the times I went to Staunton I thought this was a service road and didn’t realize how nice Scout Line was.
I took Scout Line from here to make a clockwise loop so that is how I will describe it but you could go either way.
Scout Line Trail
Scout Line trail is my new favorite place to go in the park. However, there is a pretty steep incline that is a challenge so it isn’t for everyone but if you want a workout its a good way to go. Overall, Scout Line will be a 1. 2 mile trail that gains over 600 feet of elevation.
The trail starts just off the service road and is a narrow dirt trail through a wooded area that crosses over a small stream. About a tenth of a mile Scout Line begins a mile long steep series of switchbacks up the side of the hill. Elevation grades get up to the mid to upper 20% range and the trail becomes very rocky. Equally as important to the challenge of the switchbacks are the views. Absolutely breathtaking!
As you continue to make your way up the switchbacks the trail will get rockier and rockier. This gets tricky in the winter with the snow cover as it hides some of the terrain under the snow. I ended up breaking my microspikes on some rocks on this portion of the trail.
As you get to about two-thirds up the hill you will come to a rocky outcrop that has a tree down that serves as a bench. This may be one of my favorite views in the world. Ummm…I don’t think you would like it though so you should probably stay away! Just kidding it is magnificent.
After my favorite spot there is some more vertical gains that take you over some large rocks. The trail then flattens out and loops towards the west. From here you will start to get views of Lion’s Head and other rock formations on the west side of the park. This section of the trail will last about eight-tenths of a mile before you come to the junction with Marmot Passage
When you come to the junction of Marmot Passage you can head to the right which will take you back to Staunton Ranch or you can head left and head to Elk Falls Pond. I wrote about the trip to the pond from here in my Lions Head write up if you are interested.
This trip I took Marmot passage. Marmot Passage is completely surrounded in tall trees and give you shade for the shorter walk. It is also completely downhill if you come from this direction! The trail is a half mile of some of the most relaxing walking I have done, especially good after the challenge of getting up Scout Line.
When you get to the bottom of Marmot Passage you will have to walk down the fire road for a third of a mile before you find the trail for Staunton Ranch to complete the loop back.
I highly recommend looking at all the pictures in the large gallery below on this hike. It was one of the prettiest hikes I have done due to all the fresh snow on the ground!
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 7.65 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1,115 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 9,244 feet. I was also moving for a total of 3 hours and 8 minutes.
Scout Line trail has some pretty steep inclines that make for a bit of a challenge. Add the snow and rocks underneath and this made for some extra effort for the hike. Here is the step count from my Fitbit.
The trail is easy to follow and well defined. There are some very rocky sections of the trail and with the fresh snowfall it made for a tough time recognizing all of the rocks. Due to the tricky footing, I ended up breaking my microspikes by catching it on rock that was covered in the snow so keep an eye out for that.
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.
Wrapping up Staunton: Staunton Ranch and Scout Line Loop
I absolutely love Staunton State park and have enjoyed every trip. It is such a great place overall with plenty to do. This trip however was extra special with all of the fresh snow on the ground. The views were absolutely breathtaking with the park covered in the powder. The Scout Line Trail has quickly become one of my favorite places in the park with panoramic views of the entire park.
One word of warning, the trails at Staunton can get rocky and with fresh snow covering them it can be a challenge to keep your footing. I ended up breaking my spikes by kicking a rock I didn’t see. The views and workout were worth it though as I haven’t been this happy during a hike a while now!
I have added this hike and all of my hikes to the interactive map page you can find here. If you have any suggestions for hikes or comments feel free to email me at email@example.com or you can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!