On Saturday, June 25, I gave Elk Park Trail a try. This is one of my favorite trails because it is really high and has some great views. The trip starts at timberline just off the Pikes Peak Highway and drops about 1800 feet to Barr Camp. Then you turn around and run back. It's about 10.5 miles round trip with some gentle, rolling hills, and some good technical stuff as well.
The start: The first mile is a gentle drop from tree line into the high forest of Pikes Peak. Starting in the thin air of about 12,000 feet, you hit a small grove of trees about 1/4 mile down. Then it's another 1/2 mile before you hit the trees again and stay in them for the rest of the trip down. The view is spectacular.
High on a mountain side>
1 mile down on this trail and things get a little dicey. The trail takes a hard left and gets a little steeper. A few hundred yards later, and the trail heads right and gets downright nasty. It's steep, technical and has all manner of ankle twisting rocks and ruts. Staying focused on this section is a key part of a successful Elk Park Tail run. This drop is between 1/4 and 1/3 mile. At the bottom of this hill is a fork in the road. To the right is Oil Creek Tunnel, To the left is Barr Camp.
My friend Chaz and I ran the next 4.5 miles at a pretty easy pace. His goal: to summit Pikes Peak. My goal: to run back to the car fast (the uphill part). The miles ticked by, and a little over an hour had passed since we left the car. We arrived at Barr Camp in 1:03 and change.
Joe Fugate at Barr Camp.
I ran in to Joseph Fugate at Barr Camp who ran from the bottom and was heading back down. We chatted for a few minutes and then it was time for me to hammer the uphill.
I took off with a goal of 75 minutes for the 5.3 mile run back. I took a bunch of pictures on the way, and here are some of them:
French Creek (I think)
Troubled bridge over water. :)
Lots of downed trees and bare trees. It gets windy up here.
Another creek crossing
This is why I like this trail. What a view!
The big hill on the way back up. Yeah, it's that steep.
Imagine trying to get this thing down the trail. 1.5 miles from trail head.
The par 5 14th hole. Dogleg left, 660 yards from the tips.
I finally break out of the trees and have just less than a mile to go. The views now are incredible. If you have not run this trail, and you like to run in the mountains, you have got to give it a try. Once you drop deep into the forest, your feet are landing on pine needles that are super soft. The streams are beautiful and the sound of the wind blowing through the trees is so soothing. The sights, the sounds, the smells and the feeling of the trail underfoot is all I need.
Back above the trees. 1/2 mile to go.
Goal achieved: 1:13:22 back. With all the picture taking, I am very satisfied. Happy Trails!