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Trails                                      St Mary's 

 

 

St Mary's Falls and Helen Hunt Falls

 

 
 

Closed Rail Tunnel of Gold Camp Road:  trailhead goes over the top of this tunnel

Directions:  

Trailhead: From Colorado Springs go west on Cheyenne Blvd to the Starsmoor Nature Center and continue west in the North Cheyenne Canyon, past Helen Hunt Falls, to the Gold Camp Road "parking area" (approximately 8 miles).  Walk approximately 1  mile on the closed Gold Camp Rd. to the closed rail tunnel (see picture above), and go over the top of the tunnel then veer southwest.

Summary: 

The trail is 1.7 miles long according to the sign at the bottom.  That measurement is probably to the base of the Falls as the crow flies.  Hiking time to the base of the Falls and back was approximately 1 1/2 hours.

First portion of the hike is  a easy steam-side hike along a lust riparian valley filled with ferns and chokecherry bushes.  Both sides of the canyon rise sharply with granite sand cliffs on one side and ponderosa pine woodlands on the other.   By legend, the stream is punctuated by 33 small waterfalls of 3 foot or greater and culminating with the upper St Mary's Falls.  

The second portion is marked by much more elevation gain, a rougher trail as the trail moves away from the stream.

The third portion goes to the upper portion of St Mary's Falls and to miner's cabin remains up top.  From there, one may travel on through Deer Park.  

 

 

St Mary's Falls from the mid section up.

 

 

Lush lower portion of trail

 

 

 

One of the reported 33 waterfalls of 3 foot or more along the trail.

 

 

Dreamy lower train portion.

 

 

 

Chokecherry bush along the Cheyenne Creek

 

 

Timber litters creek bed

 

 

Granite sand cliff to southeast of trail.

 

 

Half way up the trail, you will see the saddle hump that is next to St Mary's Falls.  This is the goal.

 

 

The .2 miles is a little deceptive, and probably indicates the distance straight-up rather than the trail distance.

After walking for 15 minutes, this sign  indicates the two trails that go to the base of the falls and to the top.   Again the distances may be somewhat misleading.

 

 

First look of the Falls from the trail lower view.

 

St Mary's Falls from the mid section up.

I am always disappointed by photographs of St. Mary's Falls.  The falls are much more impressive in person, but without a crane, they are difficult to photograph.

 

St Mary's Falls from the mid section up.

 

 

 

Climb along north side of St Mary's Falls                                                               

 

While I have made the climb up, and down, the north side of the Falls, it has two dangerous places for inexperienced climbers.  If you do it, I would recommend climbing down for the first attempt.  The gravel loose sand make the footing much more treacherous than it looks.  Every year someone falls in this area.  Back tracking on the lower trail and continuing to the Top of the Falls is a good option.

The Top of the Falls should not be missed as there is a view out to Colorado Springs that is one of the best.  By crossing the stream there is a way to sit in the middle of a fork with the big overview.

 

Lower portion of the Falls