COBWEB CORNERS: Jones Park – the old summit route
By Mel McFarland
As I take people up Pikes Peak on the cog railway I often get asked how the soldiers who lived at the mountain's weather station in the 1800s got there. I am also asked how Katharine Lee Bates got to the top. Curiously, about the same way. It also includes an area you do not hear much about anymore, called Jones Park.
Over 100 years ago, Jones Park was a popular resort area. It may have even been visited by Pike. From the 1880s to the 1920s, it saw regular visitors. Following Bear Creek Canyon out of Old Colorado City, the old Gold Camp Road passes a steep canyon which leads to Jones Park. It lies near Mount Rosa, Mount Baldy, Mount Garfield and Mount Kinso. From the Summit of Pike's Peak in the fall, it is easy to see because of the Aspen trees that almost fill it. Bear Creek itself starts in Jones Park.
When the weather station opened in the 1870s, the Army built a trail up Bear Creek. Along the way, they met an old gent living in a cabin whose name was Joseph C. Jones. The Army's trail continued on past Lake Moraine and up the south slope of the peak. The route was mainly used by soldiers until the 1880s when Colorado Springs started using Lake Moraine for water. The city improved the trail to get wagons and equipment to the lake.
Jones Park was used for its lumber, and the increased use of the trail saw the building of a toll gate as it crossed property down along Bear Creek. Larger cabins were built in the area, as were a couple which became hotels. When Cripple Creek developed, a route through Jones Park was built but it was not very popular. It was during this time that Jones Park was really used as a resort. The property was eventually sold off in smaller lots. The Forest Service and Colorado Springs started buying up the land as it became available, to a point where the area is now owned by one or the other. Most of the old buildings were allowed to collapse and a few were intentionally destroyed. Once the road from Cascade on the north slope was built, the old southern route was abandoned. Jones Park is not far from the area where Captain Jack, that other unique Colorado mountain individual, lived.