Staunton – Colorado’s Newest State Park! Lorena Wilder
After consulting the trail map and talking with the Park Ranger at the entrance station, we decided to start our trek on the 4.5 mile-long Mason Creek Trail. This trail starts out as a gentle climb through forest and meadow, but by the first mile the grade increases considerably. The second mile-plus is brutal – endless uphill, with a couple of switchbacks. The only saving grace is that it is mostly in the shade. Not too technical, but we did make a few stream crossings and rock-hops. Less than halfway up Mike remarked the trail would make a better downhill – but since this park is built on a mountainside any trail means a lot of uphill climb! By mile three, after over an hour of riding (and resting), with about a 1,260 foot elevation gain, we finally started on some downhill. A short time later we stopped at the intersection with the next trail, Border Line, at the Old Mill and other interesting historic buildings on the property. About a mile later (up and down on switchbacks) we stopped at Staunton Rocks Overlook, a high point of the trail system. Incredible views from this point! We then continued on for about a mile of downhill on switchbacks to a major intersection with four trails. Our original intent had been to explore the rest of the park, but since a big storm was coming in we elected to ride Staunton Ranch Trail back to the parking lot – 3.3 miles of almost constant downhill. Sweet!
Despite a lot of long climbs, we figured that in about two and a half hours and 10.3 miles of riding we had nearly six miles of nearly continuous downhill riding – mostly at the end, which is how a good mountain bike ride should finish up! We didn’t bring our camera (too busy riding anyway!) so the picture is from Staunton's park website.
Some facts about Staunton State Park: hiking, biking, and horses are permitted. In addition to the multi-use trails there are about five miles of hiking-only trails. There is a rock climbing area and several ponds/streams for fishing. Facilities are limited: vault toilets, limited parking (about 100 spaces), some scattered picnic tables with grills plus a group picnic pavilion; but no Visitor’s Center. Future plans call for camping facilities and hunting (this homestead traditionally allowed hunting). The Ranger told us the most technical trails are Border Line (which we tried) and Marmot Passage (which we didn’t try). These have switchbacks and rocky sections. A nice feature is that each trail has a marker indicating the half-way point!
Web link for more information: www.parks.state.co.us/parks/staunton/Pages/Staunton.asp