Bill's Best Hikes - A Troll and a Stroll - American Eagle Mines Trail
Why we like it:
We try not to repeat trails, but the “Rita, the Rock Planter” addition to the American Eagles Mine Trail makes it all worthwhile. The city of Victor really put itself on the map with this, at least, the "installation art" map. If you have not seen the troll in Breckenridge, we now have one much closer. Artist Thomas Dambo, from Denmark, created an art piece depicting a troll pushing rocks back into an exploratory pit mine. Obviously, Rita is environmentally sensitive and trying to repair what man has disturbed. (This IS art so please don’t sit on it or try to take it apart.)
How to get there:
From the intersection of Hwy 24 and I-25 in downtown, drive 24.9 miles west on Hwy 24 to the intersection in Divide at Hwy 67. Turn left and drive south on Hwy 67 for 13.3 miles. Just before the “big bend” turn left onto CR 81 and drive about 7 miles, on newly paved road, to Victor. Continue through Victor with a left turn for a block and right turn to rejoin Hwy 67. Drive another 2 miles west to a large parking lot on the left. This trailhead serves the Little Grouse Mountain Trail System.
On the Trail:
You can do the loop in either direction to find the troll. If you want to see the mining exhibit first, use the trail on the right side of the road. The start of the trail is VERY confusing but you can see it on the hillside. From the Trailhead information, walk the road on the right side for about 100 feet while looking for the trail on the other side of a drainage ditch. When you see it, pick a good place to cross the ditch to start up the trail. If the elevation gets to you there is a bench, shortly, on the left in a copse of trees next to a pit mine. Continue on up through the trees and you will come out at the mining exhibit. Enjoy the exhibit to your satisfaction but look for a trail that goes out through the fence to the west. Follow the trail all the way out to a nice overlook that highlights the mountains to the west and south. Oh, on the way, that large creature beside the trail is Rita. At the overlook turn and take the right trail back down. Do NOT go to the right into the trees. The trail heads down the valley and is marked by edge rocks and joins the Little Grouse Mountain trail system. Go left at the junction and return to the dirt road and back to parking.
USGS Cripple Creek South, NatGeo #137 Pikes Peak/Canon City, Pikes Peak Atlas, All Trails
Total Distance - 2.4 miles (Loop)
Elevation Gained - 232 feet
Maximum Elevation - 9660 feet
Approximate Trail Time - 1-3 hours
Trail Difficulty - Easy
What you'll see: