Sunday, September 07, 2008

Herman Gulch hike

On Saturday afternoon we drove up to Herman Gulch for a hike.
It's about a 45-minute drive from Denver. (Exit 218, about 3 miles west of Bakerville.)
There are other nice hikes closer to town, but I've heard good things about Herman Gulch and wanted to check it out. It's also popular with backcountry skiers and showshoers, but the avalanche danger makes me nervous. People have been buried there before.
If you can read a topo map, you can see that the first section is rather grueling. It's about 1,600 feet of elevation gain over less than a mile, starting at about 10,000 feet. (Click any of these maps to see them bigger.)
You can see from the picture above that the trail is steep and full of loose rocks.
Having an old dog is a good excuse to take frequent rest stops along the way. But Sophie was quite happy to be there. Lots of great smells!
And at the top of the trail, you reach the waterfalls. Another good place to stop for a refreshing drink.
The trail becomes a gentler climb and goes on through the trees for a little longer...
... then opens onto a pretty meadow.
There are still some wildflowers blooming. Pretty blue ones.
And yellow ones, complete with the ubiquitous bees. I noticed that the mountain bees are more fuzzy than my city bees.
Soon, very soon, all of this will be covered with snow. Soon enough that I also took along my trusty hip pack with a survival kit, space blanket, hat, rain coat and pants, and an extra layer of clothes. You might think that was silly, but mountain weather can turn ugly in minutes, and I don't intend to get on the evening news as an example of poor planning.
But for this day, at least, the weather was very fine.


  1. I actually really love the 'must be prepared' aspect of hiking (or driving or anything) in Colorado! Sunscreen...check, sweater...check, emergency chocolate...check...

  2. This and nearby Watrous Gulch (same large parking area right off I-70)are truly wonderful earlier in the year when a greater variety of wildflowers are blooming. I think the purple flowers are gentians, and the yellow ones are one of numerous yellow composites that grow around here.

    You'll also find some fabulous close-to-Denver trails in the Mt. Evens Wilderness, accessed from Squaw Pass Road (Hwy 103 off I-70 at Idaho Springs). Several of them are in my book, 'Snowshoeing Colorado,' but from the winter user's perspective.

    Claire @

  3. Jen, I see so many reports of people who tried to climb Long's Peak in sneakers and t-shirts, or got lost in the Maroon Bells without proper gear. All my emergency gear is pretty lightweight, so better safe than sorry!

    Claire, I'll have to try Watrous and the Squaw Pass trails one of these days, too. Thanks for the flower ID!

  4. Any hike that Sophie can take is a hike for joy. It's good to see pics of her up on a trail.