Horsethief Falls

High in the Teller County woods, there’s a stack of rocks that looks as if it could use some syrup. This has come to be known as Pancake Rocks. And even better than the curious outcrop is the vista which it commands.

It’s a hard-earned trek to get there, however. If looking for something less arduous, or if perhaps you find yourself short on time and testing summer afternoon storms, Horsethief Falls along the way is a destination in its own right.

The Horsethief Park trailhead gets its name from the area’s outlaw history. Imagine those gritty travelers getting around on tough terrain such as this; the trail ascends and offers little relief for close to a mile in the fragrant forest, which is good for aspen viewing in the fall.

Stay straight at well-marked junctions, the first of which goes left for Ring the Peak Trail. Pikes Peak’s tundra reveals itself far above the trees as you go. Up ahead, the woods clear for a majestic view of Sentinel Point.

In less than a mile, Pancake Rocks is marked as 21/2 miles to the right — a slight overestimation according to our tracker, but one should be prepared for more steady elevation.

Stay straight for Horsethief Falls, paying attention in a half-mile, where the trail bends left. It’s worth carefully scrambling up the slick rocks, which form a peaceful cove at the top.

Don’t go in with expectations of the more dramatic waterfalls Colorado has to offer. But this is one of nature’s simple pleasures: a cool, refreshing spray on a hot day in a secluded sanctuary.

Trip log: 2.7 miles round trip to the falls (out and back), 567 feet elevation gain

Difficulty: Moderate

Getting there: Going west on U.S. 24, turn left at the stoplight for Colorado 67 south in Divide. After about 9 miles, look left for the trailhead parking lot by an old tunnel.

FYI: Hiking, bikes, horses. Dogs on leash. Icy in winter; wear traction. Arrive early or late afternoon in summer, as parking fills.

SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE

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