|Elevation Gain||1,854 ft|
|My Time||4 hr 3 min|
Pancake Rocks and Horsethief Falls
The trip to Pancake Rocks and Horsethief Falls was a tale of two hikes. The falls were beautiful and relatively easy. The Rocks included a hike up a steep hill for some amazing views. The connected trails were a great example of the diversity of Colorado Hiking.
The Horsethief Falls park is pretty easy to navigate as there is only one trail leading from the smallish parking area. The trail is to the right side of the park. One interesting feature is the boarded up tunnel which used to be where the road went through the mountain before being expanded.
The beginning of the path is a bit steep but well maintained. It has some rocks in the path but nothing that is too difficult to navigate. The trail is actually in a T shape with the falls a straight shot one and a half mile trip. The Pancake Rocks spur off of that trail and head up the mountain. So you may want to decide which trail, or both, you are looking to do. I did both and started with the falls.
I decided to start off with the falls. Once you clear the moderate elevation gain at the start of the hike the trail to the falls flattens out for the most part. The trail is through a wooded area with good shade. On the outsides of the path there are some really nice views though.
It is a total of a mile and a half to the falls. The trail is nice and wide and the second half feels like a nice nature walk. After clearing that first hill with elevations in the 13% range, the walk through the woods becomes a more manageable 5%.
The falls were still half frozen when I went in the middle of June and I was able to walk up the ice to get close to the falls. The actual trail includes a bit of a stream crossing but it was all ice so I can’t tell you how that works.
After walking up the ice I was able to take a few minutes to enjoy the water which was flowing really well when I went. This isn’t a long drop fall but more of a series of runoff falls across the rocks. Fun fact, The falls got their name because a group of horse thieves lived in the area and we known for stealing the horses of the gold miners in the surrounding area.
The trail to Pancake Rocks is well labeled and easy to find about halfway down the path to the falls. While the trip to the falls is a nice short and easy walk, the path to the rocks is going to make you work for it.
The most challenging part of the hike comes right of the bat. The first hill to ascend will take you up around 800 feet in just under a mile and a half. The grade is consistently in the 16-17% range and it is very consistent. There are a few short switchbacks to lesson the incline but this is still a challenging hill to make it up. The good news is that it is all in the woods so you have plenty of shade.
When you clear the hill there is a short stack of rocks that look like they may be the pancakes but don’t be fooled. You still have a ways to go. From the top of the hill you still have a mile to go. This last mile has two more small hills that you will have to go up and down before you finally make it to the rocks. They are very much worth it!
Not only are the rocks pretty cool but the views from this rocky outcrop is sensational. You have about 200 degrees of wide open views. To the south and west are wide open views of valley…
and to the east you have some of the Pikes Peak range of mountains that stretch above the treeline.
All in all it is a nice open space with great rock formations and plenty of room so you can take some time with room for plenty of people. It would be a great spot to take a snack break or picnic and just enjoy the views!
Here is a little video I put together of the hike. If you enjoy it, check my YouTube channel and subscribe for free for the latest updates.
Distance and Elevation
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 7.85 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1,854 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 11,056 feet. I was also moving for a total of 4 hours and 3 minutes.
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There is a bit of a climb at the beginning of the hike but the trail to falls is not too bad after that. The trail to the Pancake Rocks on the other hand is extremely challenging and steep. The trail isn’t technical at all but the elevation can be pretty rough if you aren’t ready for it.
The trail is a wide and well defined dirt trail with occasional embedded rocks. There is some walking on rocks when you get to the Pancake Rocks and in mid June when I hiked there was still plenty of ice around the falls. I would suggest a good pair of hiking shoes.
There is a small parking area for about ten cars on the side of the road on CO-67. This is located about halfway between Woodland Park and Victor, Colorado. There are no restroom facilities at the trailhead.
Wrapping up Pancake Rocks and Horsethief Falls
Wow, this one really was a tail of two hikes. On the one hand you have the short and relatively easy trip to the very cool falls. On the other hand you have a grueling trip up a steep hill to get you to some amazing panoramic views and rock formations.
If you are going to do both I would recommend going the way that I went and do the falls first. That way, if the hill is too challenging, you at least got to see the falls. I don’t think I would have gone the extra way to the falls if I did the hill first.
This was a really enjoyable hike for me and I met some great folks including Doug and Debbie! Great hiking with yall!
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