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Horsethief Falls & Pancake Rocks

Hiking on the back side of Pikes Peak
id_1471735
Rating: 5 out of 5 by EveryTrail members
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 7.6 miles
Duration: Half day
Family Friendly

Overview:  I did part of this hike at the end of April. I didn't know then that despite the snowmelt in most of the area (Colorado Springs,... more »

Tips:  Take snacks and water! If you take your dog, take snacks and water for it as well.
Use sunscreen or cover up; when the sun is out, it ... more »

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Points of Interest

1. Trail Head

The trail head sits at 9760 feet of elevation. No sign indicates your location, just the remains of the old road tunnel. The parking area accommodates around 25 vehicles. I'd advise arriving early, especially in the summer, so you can hike while it's still cool and the light is good for photos.

2. Arbor Trail

As the trail ascends, you'll feel as though you're in an arbor. The filtered sunlight is soft and soothing, both in summer and winter. The two pictures here are only 65 days apart; because the trail runs along the north face of the ridge, the snow hangs around a long time.

3. Trail Split

After walking a mile and ascending 400 feet, you'll arrive at a sign indicating a split in the trail. Straight ahead lie the falls; to the right about 2 miles (and another 800 feet of altitude) is the Pancake Rocks area. Just north of the trail is a meadow and a pond made by beavers taking advantage of the flatter terrain.

For this hike, I chose ... More

4. Horsethief Falls

The falls is really more of a "flow." Here the stream descends across the granite face at the foot of Sentinel Point. The high moisture content of the soil makes an ideal location for Colorado Columbine. You can climb around and enjoy exploring quite high up the rock formation. However, be careful, the decomposed granite here can be treacherous.

5. Domed Viewing

To the north (left as you face the falls), through a small copse of trees, is another granite face. It only rises about 75 ft above the forest floor, and it's not steep nor is the footing loose. When you reach the top, you'll find a chair sized knob perfect for propping you up while you gaze westward toward the inner range of the Rockies.

6. Western View 1

After I enjoyed the falls, I headed up the trail toward Pancake Rocks. UP is the correct term. The trail tops out at 11,088 ft, where the air density is 67% of what you'll find at sea level, and your body is operating with about 88% of the blood oxygen level you'd have there. ... Sucking wind is not a bad thing, it slows you down so you can enjoy ... More

7. Western View 2

Another spot to catch your breath and enjoy the breath-taking landscape.

8. Pancake Rocks

When you reach the top, take some time to explore the rock formations. Here the granite fractures in horizontal patterns rather than the vertical ones you'd see at the Crags about three miles to the north. ... The hike down is a lot quicker than the hike up. But, be careful how you place your feet, because the granite gravel can be slick in places.