Staunton SP: Mason Creek Out and Back

Distance9.55 mi
Elevation gain1,614 ft
My Time4 hr 3 min
DifficultyModerate
Closest TownEvergreen
Food Nearby

Mason Creek Trail

I have been on almost every inch of trail at Staunton State Park. From Davis Ponds, to Lions Head, Elk Falls and even the Old Mill and Overlooks. So when I found a trail on my AllTrails map that I hadn’t finished yet I figured I had to give it a try! Especially after just getting back to Colorado after my Great Southwestern Road Trip.

Starting Out

So I didn’t start out very well on this trail. I actually parked at the wrong parking area to really complete this hike. I parked in the main parking lot near the Staunton Ranch trail and should have parked at the overflow lot. Luckily the Dines Meadow trail connected me to Mason Creek.

To make up for the parking miscue I had to start the trail by walking South towards the trailhead before doubling back to officially finish the entire trail. This is not something you have to do but I wanted to in order to see the section of Mason Creek I hadn’t seen.

The views across Dines Meadow and towards the southern hills of Jefferson County on the Mason Creek Trail.

I am really glad I did this because the south section of Mason Creek that I hadn’t seen is really nice. It shows great views of the meadow and the broader view of the southern hills just outside the park.

Mason Creek Trail

Once I hit the trailhead I doubled back and headed north on Mason Creek. If you park in the correct spot this will be the start of your hike. Passing the meadow again has a moderate incline and you will soon find yourself in some trees.

A snow covered trail on Mason Creek.  The trail changed drastically when the shade of the trees blocked the sun.

As soon as I made it to the trees it was like I was in a different world. The sun was gone and the snow and ice had returned. This section of Mason Creek is also where the steepest inclines appear on the trail. It is a consistent 10% grade with some sections getting as high as 20% grades.

While this incline isn’t the worst you will see, it can get challenging when mixed with snow, ice and melting mud all in the same spot. I had to spike up and take it slow to make sure I stayed vertical.

Bear Paw Loop

Around the three mile mark of the hike you will run into the Bear Paw intersection. If you want to take Bear Paw it will lead you to some of the really cool overlooks in the park that have some great views and reconnect with Mason Creek further down. I was trying to finish the out and back so I stayed on Mason Creek.

The northern side of the Mason Creek trail is still covered in snow on this April Day.

The northern section of Mason Creek leads to some of the higher elevations in the park and there was still plenty of snow on the ground. The trail does some switch-backing and eventually will make a turn to the west. When you make the turn to the west you will come across an old building and the ruins of the Old Mill.

The Old Mill

According to AllTrails the trail stops at the Old Mill and you should turn around here and head back. I did that to complete this trail but I don’t think it is the best way to spend your time at Staunton. I think it would have been better to walk down the Old Mill trail and connect to Staunton Ranch and head back to the parking area.

Another option at this point would be to take the Bear Paw loop so you can at least see the overlooks although that would add some distance. It isn’t that Mason Creek isn’t a beautiful hike but there is so much more you could be seeing at the park.

That would be my suggestion but you surely could hike back down the way you came to complete the hike. Here is the breakdown of my out and back for Mason Creek.

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 9.55 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1614 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 9,434 feet. I was also moving for a total of 4 hours and 3 minutes.

Effort

This is one of the steeper sections of Staunton State park made more challenging with the icy terrain. The hike long and mostly up hill for the first half. Not quite straight vertical but more of a long consistent incline. Here are some stats from my new Garmin watch.

My average pace from the Garmin instinct watch was a 23:17 moving time.  Also my average speed for the Mason Creek trail was 2 miles per hour.

Terrain

While the trails at Staunton are typically a very wide and well defined dirt trail the April day that I hiked this trail it was still half covered in snow and ice. During the spring it is very sun dependent on what parts of the trail are dirt and what are ice based solely on sun and shade. This is also a longer hike at just under 10 miles so I would suggest a good pair of hiking shoes.

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.

Wrapping up the Mason Creek Trail

I absolutely love Staunton State Park and spend a lot of time there. I have almost hiked on every inch of trail at the park so I say this with love. Don’t do this hike as an out and back if you see it on Alltrails. Mason Creek connects to some other really nice trails which would make for a better hike. If you are looking for a long hike I would suggest doing a loop with Mason Creek, the overlooks and the Old Mill trail.

That being said any day at Staunton is a good day and I did enjoy this trail. If I hadn’t been to the park before and known of the other options I probably would have liked the hike a lot more. It is a beautiful hike and in the summers it provides a lot of shade. The shade is important because a lot of Staunton hikes are exposed. I would definitely rank this on the harder side of moderate due to the inclines.

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 fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com. You can follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

3 thoughts on “Staunton SP: Mason Creek Out and Back”

  1. bewilderedbrowneyes

    Looks like any hike here would be fun! Wish the MIL still lived in Colorado! I love using the AllTrails app too – we don’t really get hard trails down in flat Florida, but it is full of great recommendations.

    1. I have always used alltrails for finding good trails. This one just didn’t make sense as a stand alone because so many great options at Staunton. Hikes don’t have to be steep to be fun…right? Haha

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