Due to unprecedented and historic fire conditions, U.S. Forest Service-Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests and Pawnee National Grassland is temporarily closing all National Forest land in Clear Creek, Jefferson, Gilpin, Boulder, and Larimer counties. The decision to be re-evaluated daily. SEE CLOSURE ORDER

Balanced Rock Road

Monument, Colorado (ElPaso County)

Last Updated: 02/15/2020
4.1 / 5 ( 13 reviews )
Information
Nearby Trails
Status: Open
Typically Open: Year Round
Length: 7.5 miles
Highest Elevation: 9351 feet
Duration: About 1 hour, 30 minutes
Shape of Trail: Out & Back
Best Direction to Travel: N/A
Nearest Town: Monument
Nearest Town w/ Services: Monument
Official Road Name: 322
Management Agency: Pike National Forest
District: Pikes Peak Ranger District
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Highlights

Highlight: Balanced Rock Road
This is a fun off-road trail that's close to Colorado Springs and easily accessible to those in Denver and other points along the front range. Trails within the Rampart Range can provide a challenge to vehicles that are a little more than stock yet still offers some fun routes for more built rigs. The Mount Herman Road (FS 320) drive up to the trail gives you great views of Monument and Black Forest. The southern section of the Rampart Range is notable for unique rock formations consisting of large boulder piles and valleys filled with rock outcroppings, dense forests and fine gravel soil. Open during all seasons (except rare closures for excessive precipitation), the Rampart Range portion of Pike National Forest offers year-round 4x4 adventure!

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Weather

7 day forecast for Balanced Rock Road

Route Information

Technical Rating:
(MODERATE )

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Waypoints

1. Trailhead (0 mi)
The trailhead is on the east side of Rampart Range Road (FS 300), approximately one mile north of the Mount Herman Road (FS 320) intersection with Rampart Range Road. It is marked with a brown US Forest Service sign.

Directions to Trailhead

Trailhead Coordinates: 39.066690, -105.023280

Starting Point: Denver

From Denver, take I-25 to exit 187 and Happy Canyon Road and Highway 85. Just before the town of Sedalia, turn south on Highway 67. Follow this to the turn for Rampart Range Road on the left. If you get to the town of Moonridge you've gone too far. Take Rampart Range Road 31 miles south to the trailhead. Alternatively, drive to Monument on Interstate 25 and take Exit 161, Monument and Palmer Lake. Turn west towards the mountains. Beyond the traffic signals, the road becomes 2nd Street. Proceed slowly on 2nd Street (20 MPH speed limit) for approximately one mile and cross the railroad tracks. Turn left on Mitchell Road, travel south for approximately one mile where you see Dirty Woman Park on your left. Make a right turn on Mount Herman Road (FS 320) and proceed 11.5 miles up the mountain to the intersection of Rampart Range Road (FS 300). At this intersection, turn right (north) and travel approximately one mile. The Balanced Rock trailhead is on your right.

Camping

Dispersed

Land Use Issues

This area is part of Pike-San Isabel National Forest, and as such is part of the 2011 Lawsuit where a coalition of conservation and recreation groups are suing the U.S. Forest Service over what they say is the illegal addition of 500 miles of motorized roads and trails. A settlement was reached in late 2015 which requires the U.S. Forest Service to re-evaluate the roads and create a new travel management plan. Over the next year, 30 roads will be partially or completely closed while this evaluation proceeds over the next 5 years. It is imperative that the OHV community voices their interests on this issue. If we do nothing, those 500 miles will be shutdown. Contact the local ranger districts and let them know why the area is important to you.

Trail Reviews (23)

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Fun trail but getting there sucked. We took the Interstate 25 to exit 167 directions. Mt Herman Road was cool to go up with the exception of trucks with trailers coming down at the same time. A couple places I found it difficult to give enough room in my wrangler to let them by. Not sure what trail etiquette for giving way is but I thought uphill traffic had the right of way. If its easy for me to move over I don't mind but none of the trailer guys made any attempt to give way. On the flat parts of Mt Herman the road has a ton of washboard which is not fun at all. An alternate route I found on the way out was to take Rampart Range Rd south past Mt Herman and this eventually turns to asphalt and dumps you out onto Highway 24 and was a lot quicker. Anyway as for Balanced Rock Rd I found that to be a lot of fun as a newbie. Nothing too challenging but some light fun. All the target shooting garbage off trail kind of spoils the scenery but TBH I will probably go back to shoot at some point myself so that will be an added bonus if you are into that. The trail was a lot of fun like I said and there are several areas with a bypass to choose the harder or easier route. We did this in a stock 2013 Moab Wrangler Unlimited with 33s with all the original parts. I would love to get some new shocks and a 2 inch lift but it is 100% not needed for a trail like this, in my newbie opinion. When I go back I will likely take Rt 25 to Highway 24 then over to St. Baldwin St (turns into Rampart).

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Description is accurate, conditions are typical for this time of year. No excessive erosion. The one steeper part that requires some articulation has evidence of someone getting a little stuck, but still very passable. Ran w Stock JLU Sport.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran this Trail Sunday it was two wheel drive in and 2 wheel drive out there was nothing to this Trail it was just boring

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran entire trail on stock 2 door jk with mud terrains and stock Xterra Pro 4x on all terrain tires. Trail is mostly easy except towards the end where there are large ruts which take a bit of articulation or lockers to get through without spinning tires, but not impossible if not. I could see this being a limiting point if it’s wet out but it was dry and easy for us. Nice area to explore by the reservoir at the end but it was very buggy when we went.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
This was my first time running this trail, as well as any other trail in the area. I agree with the previous reviews that it's a great opportunity to get a feel for your vehicle off-road, especially the ruts at the very end. I have a built 1999 Toyota Land Cruiser (lifted, locked, armored) and my buddy drove his slightly built (lifted, locked) 1999 Land Cruiser - neither had any issues with the trail, though good tire placement and probably a good spotter will help stock vehicles avoid any potential damage through the rutted section. We also learned (from a very friendly hiker) that dogs are not allowed past the gates at the end of the trail, when entering the area around the reservoir (part of the Palmer Lake Watershed, I believe). There are no signs at this point notifying you of this rule, but apparently there are on the hiking trail that leads up the mountain on the east side of the reservoir.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail was open with only a few other vehicles on it. Wide enough for one vehicle but plenty of places to pull off to let oncoming traffic pass. (This is a out and back trail.) No snow or mud anywhere as of this weekend. We made it all the way to the end in a stock 2019 Wrangler Rubicon JL and a stock 2018 Land Cruiser (so at least one of these behemoths has left the mall parking lot.) The only tricky section was the ruts at the very end for the LC, but it managed without bottoming out and with side steps on. My friend did have 4-Low and ‘mogul’ mode activated to get though that section, but it was tons of fun. This is a great trail to get a feel for your vehicle. There were plenty of camping sites as well. Once you get near the end, park and then walk over to the lake.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
I made it most of the way down the trail but turned around right after the deep ruts at waypoint 10. Every part of the trail I saw is open, dry, and in good condition. I agree with other comments here that the deep ruts at waypoint 10 are the most difficult obstacle.

Author:
Status: Partially Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Some snow on the tail but gets deeper the further you go. my friend and I turned around about halfway due to how deep it was and potential of sliding into trees.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Ran the trail with a group of 8. No one had been down the trail since the last snow. The snow was pretty deep in spots, but passable for our crew. We made it all the way to the end, but coming back up turned out to be a little bit of a struggle. Under the fresh snow was a solid layer of ice, so a couple of the climbs out were tough for rigs without two lockers. Chains would likely be helpful on this trail. Great snow run though for groups.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Drove 322/Balanced Rock Road as part of our club's support to the Pikes Peak Ranger District (USFS) and their annual Christmas tree cutting program. The road is open and snowy; there are some off-camber spots where the snow is icy/slick, but overall relatively easy. This is a great snow-run, but don't go alone....go with a buddy or two, and be prepared for the possibility of slipping off the road and getting stuck.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Great trail with a few mild obstacles and a great lake at the end of the trail.

Author:
Status: Temporary Closure
Offroaded on:
The trail was blocked off and sign said closed due to overuse of unauthorized vehicles. It was still a nice drive up there.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Nice trail for initial 4x4 adventure.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Trail is completely clear of snow and dry. A beautiful drive, not too difficult. We went all the way to the end in a stock 2019 Ranger in 2wd. Went 4H back up the hill. Not too much traffic on this Sunday, and the lake is a beautiful spot for a picnic. Lots of nice looking campsites.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
We've driven this trail a couple times, it's a pretty soft trail with loose gravel, nothing too challenging. The lake at the bottom is very cool. My picture below shows the hardest spot on the trail, a low, stock vehicle will scrape here but it's no challenge if you have a decent vehicle.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Rating:
Nice little trail. Did it in 2011 Land Rover LR4. Didn't even have to put it in 4 low, or any special modes. The various mud puddles we nice to splash through. Trail does get a little narrow, and windy towards the bottom, but nothing that be can't driven. Ruts weren't bad at all. Went in and out, without any problems or hitting the gas hard. Pretty dry for the most part, after all, it is mid June. Cool little area at the bottom to camp at too

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Dry already. Good condition.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
We started off on Herman Rd and eventually made it to Balanced Rock Rd. There is a lot of dispersed camping on both of these roads if you are interested in finding some great spots. There are some really cool rock formations in this area after you drive a little further past balanced rock. We took Balanced Rock Rd all the way down to Palmer Lake #2 and got out and walked around a bit. This was a fun day exploring in the Jeep and the roads are pretty easy. Herman Rd was very busy but we didn't really see anyone on Balanced Rock Rd. The most difficult sections on this road were at the very end of the near the bottom close to the lake but they were nothing too crazy.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Before waypoint 10 I was wondering to myself why this trail deserved a 4 rating. Then I found out! Provided a fun place to stretch out the suspension on my 3" lifted TJ. I could have chosen an easier line but I was going for the poser photo, lol. Zero traffic was nice, had the whole road and the reservoir at the end to ourselves the entire time, except for one parked Subaru a couple of miles in from the start.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
I could see where WP 10 is wat gives this trail a bit of a higher rating. Nice views throughout, the reservoir and a quick hike to it was a bonus.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
In a 2004 Jeep Grand Cherokee with only a 2" lift, but otherwise stock, the deep ruts of waypoint 10 do present a minor challenge when going back up the trail due to them being offset causing wheel lift at opposite corners. You'll need combinations of tire bite and momentum to get through them when going uphill in a stock vehicle. Clearance could definitely be an issue. A vehicle with decent flex or lockers would have no problem.

Author:
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Made a day trip to check this trail out. Coming across Rampart Range Road we went through beautiful sunny skies to thunderstorms and through snow for quite awhile. Balanced Rock was in good mostly dry condition though. Just made a trip about half way in and then turned around to explore some other spots.

Author: Official Crew
Status: Open
Offroaded on:
Made a day trip with Colorado Land Cruisers (Colorado Springs) to run Ice Cave Road (FSR 323/324) and Balanced Rock Road (FSR 322). Weather was fantastic, given the cold front had past and deposited a couple inches of snow on the preceding Thursday. Trail conditions were dry in the sunny areas, but snowy in the shaded spots and northern slopes. The switchback and the rutted section near the end of the trail were the most significant challenges. Balanced Rock Road is an excellent day-trip destination on the Rampart Range.

Questions & Answers (8)

Q: Getting ready to head this way in a week or so and we are bringing the kayaks. Do you know if the reservoir at the end allows kayaking?
–Christina Cline (07/06/2020)
–Tracy Barker (07/13/2020)
–Tracy Barker (07/13/2020)
Q: AllTrails says no dogs allowed on the trail to the lake. Is it okay to camp near the lake with a dog from the Balanced Rock Road way via off road vehicle? Is the dog restriction just something they’re doing to keep irresponsible dog owners from taking them on a day hike?
–Josh (05/19/2019)
–Tracy Barker (05/22/2019)
–J Ranello (05/21/2019)
–Ryan Boudreau (05/20/2019)
Q: What do you consider "low clearance"? I drive a stock Cherokee Trailhawk. Should I worry about the last section?
–Casey Froke (01/07/2019)
–Tracy Barker (01/08/2019)
Q: How long does the trail take? I noticed it says 1 hour 30 minutes, is that one way or there and back? Thanks!
–Luke (10/22/2018)
–Tracy Barker (10/23/2018)
Q: How long of a drive is it from Denver to the start of this trail... looking to run this trail last weekend in april? thanks!
–Joseph (04/12/2018)
–Tracy Barker (04/13/2018)
Q: Has anyone been up this trail recently? I'm wondering if it snow packed or still clear. Thanks for any input.
–Kevin mckinney (11/21/2017)
–Gregg Macaluso (12/23/2018)
–Tracy Barker (11/23/2017)
Q: Hello all! I have a stock 2000 Nissan Xterra and am just starting to get into wheeling. I am curious if my X will be able to make WP 10 without too much stress. Thanks!
–Zach g (06/22/2017)
–Tracy Barker (06/23/2017)
Q: Anyone know if UTV's ATV's can ride here??
–Derick Avery (03/31/2017)
–Tracy Barker (03/31/2017)

Writer Information

Tracy Barker

Mapping Crew - Colorado

Tracy is an outdoor enthusiast originally from north Alabama. His family moved to central Utah when Tracy was a child, and subsequently to southern Utah, where he fell in love with the Rocky Mountains. His favorite activities are family trail rides and camping with small groups. He started many years ago in his dad's F-150 pickup truck, and subsequently his own 4x4 acquisition, a 1975 Ford Bronco (in 1991).
For individual use only, not to be shared.