Create an account

Start your adventure today.


    Already a member? Login

    Paint Mines Trail

    This reflects the 10Adventures difficulty rating for each route. We aim to keep ratings consistent across regions.
    This reflects the estimated time the majority of users will take on this trail. If you are slower, add time to the top-end figure. If you are fast, then you may complete this route faster than this time range.
    This reflects the return distance of this route as measured by the GPS file.
    5.5 km
    This reflects the total elevation gained throughout this route as measured by the GPS file. This includes all ascents and descents, and is higher than what is quoted in most route guides, which simply measure the distance between the starting-point and high-point of the route.
    102 m
    User Ratings
    These ratings are completed by users who have completed this trail and not subject to reviews by 10Adventures.
    Be the first to add a review!
    Directions to Trailhead

    The Paint Mines Trail is a unique adventure near Colorado Springs that exhibits the natural beauty and diversity of the area. Located in the plains, these corridors etched into the landscape reveal historical, ecological, archeological, and geological significance, which can be traced back to the prehistoric and historic eras.

    Download the 10Adventures App

    View Paint Mines Trail on Map

    View Map

    Join our newsletter

    Get a weekly dose of discounts and inspiration for adventure lovers

    Route Description for Paint Mines Trail

    The Paint Mines Trail is an other-worldly experience that will impress all its adventurers. Incredibly interesting and thought-provoking, the clay canyons attract outdoor enthusiasts, historical and geological buffs alike, so you will likely be in the company of several other explorers. If you seek a more secluded experience, we suggest heading out on an early weekday morning. Note there are limited accommodations near the Paint Mines, so this spot is a great day trip into the plains. Small tip: if it has rained recently, we strongly encourage wearing a pair of water-resistant shoes or rubber boots as the terrain will likely be muddy and wet.

    Adventure through hoodoos, sandstone spires, stripped clay corridors, and luxuriant grasslands along the Paint Mines Hike. Exhibiting diverse flora and fauna, there is no shortage of scenery. The manageable terrain and limited elevation gain enable this trek to be enjoyed by adventurers of all skill levels. Kids and adults alike will be captivated by the beauty and irregularity of the geological sculptures. As you explore the Paint Mines, be sure to read the interpretive signs that line the path, divulging the interesting narrative of this historic site. We love this hike, and we know you will too! Just don’t forget to charge up your camera; you won’t want to miss out on the ample photo opportunities.

    Embark on your exciting adventure along the Paint Mines Trail from the Paint Mines North Trailhead. From here, track east along the Paint Mines North Trail. Hike through the grasslands and into the canyons bounded by the orange and pink-hued clay walls. Attracting coyotes, mule deer, rabbits, hawks, and more; you may even be rewarded with a sight of wildlife in their natural habitat! Continue hiking along the trail, and eventually, you will encounter an intersection. Here, take the easternmost Paint Mines South Trail along the path lined with hoodoos and sandstone outcroppings.

    Follow the path south, weaving back into the meadowlands and back into the clay canyons. The route will guide hikers back up to the same intersection. As you journey, take the time to read the interpretive signs that explain the Native American archeological findings and historical significance of the area. From the higher lookouts along the hike, you will be granted expansive views of the plains and, on a clear day, sights of Pikes Peak in the west. At the junction, keep left, and you will be diverted onto the Paint Mines North Trail. Travel along this path all the way back to the trailhead, marking the end of your adventure. If you are still craving more, then head to one of the lookouts along the Paint Mines Road to overlook the busy mines below.

    Trail Highlights

    The Paint Mines

    The Paint Mines is an archeological district near Calhan, Colorado. Located in the eastern plains, the Paint Mines Interpretive Park contains grasslands, hoodoos, colorful clay walls, and sandstone spires. The diversity and fragility of this area are protected under the National Register of Historic Places to safeguard the archeological and geological significance of the area– so visitors like us can enjoy this historical site for years to come!

    Evidence such as arrowheads and stone dart tips led researchers to believe that Native Americans occupied this area in the prehistoric and historical periods. Furthermore, it was determined that the colored clay layers of the channel’s walls, which are a result of oxidized iron compounds, were used by Native Americans to create paint and pottery for ceremonial purposes. Rich with historical, archeological, and geological significance, this area and the channels are popular hiking destinations for outdoor enthusiasts and knowledge buffs alike.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    Why is it called the Paint Mines?

    The Paint Mines got their name because in prehistoric and historic times it is believed that Native Americans would use the stripped clay for paint and pottery!

    How long is the Paint Mines Hike?

    The Paint Mines Trail is a 5.5 km circuit hike.

    Can you climb the Paint Mines?

    Climbing the Paint Mines is prohibited as the environment is extremely fragile and protected by law.

    Can you drive through the Paint Mines?

    No, you cannot drive through the Paint Mines but there are several lookouts above the mines along the Paint Mine Road that are accessible by vehicle.

    Insider Hints for Paint Mines Trail

    • If you visit the Paint Mines after rain, then best wear rubber boots or water-resistant shoes as the terrain will likely be muddy
    • Charge up your camera! The amazing geological features warrant wicked photo ops
    • Unfortunately, you are going to have to leave your pup at home for this trek.

    Getting to the Paint Mines Trail Trailhead

    The Paint Mines Trail is accessed via the North Trailhead off Paint Mines Road.

    Route Information

    • Backcountry Campground


    • When to do


    • Pets allowed


    • Family friendly


    • Route Signage


    • Crowd Levels


    • Route Type


    Paint Mines Trail Elevation Graph

    Weather Forecast

    Check Area Weather

    Paint Mines Trail Reviews

    Add a comment

    You must be logged in to post a comment.

    Nearby Trails

    Nearby Regions

    Get travel inspiration and discounts

    Join our weekly travel newsletter