What to See and Do
Hiking and Biking
Horsethief Falls Trail
Horsethief Falls Trail is an in-and-out pathway that dashes from Cripple Creek to Horsethief Falls. The trail only elevates 567 feet and follows a creek through forests. There are periodic views of Pikes Peak and the surrounding plains.
Length: 2.6 miles
Pony Gulch Homestead
The Pony Gulch Homestead Trail begins at a high point on Lookout Point near Cripple Creek, descends rapidly to the canyon below, and follows a river past a dam and pond to an old homestead. There are great views along the way, with wildlife in the background. Its seclusion is noticeable from the start, with no trailhead sign in place. It is marked by cairns starting when hikers reach the canyon floor.
Length: 2.1 miles
Fishing and Boating
Angling and rafting are allowed in the BLM area along Shelf Road. Many adventurers visit Fourmile Creek seeking a whitewater rafting experience during the late spring, early summer, and late fall months. Anglers find four trout species in its waters: rainbow, brook, cutthroat, and brown trout.
While Shelf Road is for climbers of every skill level, there is one that outdraws all other climbs. It is called the “Contest Wall.” Set up during a rock-climbing competition, this 1,000-foot vertical climb above Royal Gorge features a bolted trail that demands a series of strenuous moves. When climbers reach the peak, an outcrop known as “Nathan,” they pause to celebrate a significant accomplishment before descending.
The varied terrain along Shelf Road provides homes for multiple wildlife species. Bighorn sheep, mountain goats, elk, moose, mule deer, and black bears are common throughout the area. Predators such as coyotes, mountain lions, eagles, and falcons stay close to Fourmile Creek in hopes of catching a quick meal.
Picnic areas are dispersed along the length of Shelf Road. It is not uncommon to see families picnicking and enjoying the view beside the running creek below the road.
The night sky lights up along Shelf Road. Light pollution is minimal, with the nearest large urban area being 45 miles away and separated from the road by numerous mountains. The farther visitors get along the road, the higher the elevation, which leads to an incredible display during clear nights in campgrounds near Cripple Creek.