I started my run shortly after sunrise at the start of Gold Camp Road in the historic mining town of Victor, CO bound for Colorado Springs. The route follows an old railroad grade previously called the “short line.” It served as a main transport between mines in Victor and Cripple Creek and the Front Range including Colorado Springs. After the mining boom settled, Gold Camp became a toll road and then a public road in more recent times. Many locals attest that the road is haunted and tell unconfirmed stories of its past, making it a much talked about part of local folklore.
I carried all the necessities including a small emergency kit, nutrition, and a liter of water. The first 20 miles of this graded dirt road is rolling and lined with aspens and geography typical to the Pike’s Peak region. One can see the backsides of Mount Rosa and Almagre from Gold Camp during the early miles, much different than the common sight of the two peaks from the Colorado Springs’ skyline. A few hours into the attempt, the weather really began to heat up. The majority of this route is completely exposed, save the five original mining tunnels you pass through. I welcomed these as they provided a much needed break from the constant sun and heat.
The first 20 miles of the route is open to vehicular traffic, before closing for 8.5 miles to only foot and cycling traffic before emerging on the fringes of North Cheyenne Cañon Park, which is a regional park located in Colorado Springs, where cars can ultimately join you again. The park’s many hundreds of miles of trails spur off of Gold Camp which practically serves as a main artery to the many recreation opportunities there. The surface is crushed gravel and dirt, save the final three miles which is paved.
Although the heat was intense this day and affected my goals and comfort, I felt so lucky to have the opportunity to experience this historic route on foot. I finished in just over 7 hours 5 minutes after enjoying every mile. Gold Camp is an integral part of the history of Colorado and the Pike’s Peak region, and you’re literally running on the a path that helped transform the state. It was an honor to experience it this way. I’m looking forward to other athletes giving this one a go and embracing this place as I did.