Hells Hole Trail? I really know how to make a re-entrance into the blogging world, huh?
Ok, ok. I am aware that it has been awhile my dear, loyal readers since my last post. Forgive me. Boy, I’m starting to feel like I’m in a confessional. Haha. Anyway, I have had some changes to both my personal and professional life that have kept me pretty busy. Not too busy for outdoor adventures of course, but just a little too preoccupied to write about them. I hope to remedy that. So without further ado, here is a fresh write up for you. It’s great to be back! Enjoy!
I love maps! I especially love these topographic maps from National Geographic. (Don’t leave home without one 🗺. Remember your 10 essentials!) So I woke up yesterday, pulled out my Idaho Springs map (as seen here), and searched for a trail that I had not yet explored.🧭
Hells Hole! Sounds interesting? I did a quick check of the weather and skimmed a few recent online trail reports. I soon found myself speeding down I-70 up to the Rocky Mountains and laughing along with the Wait Wait!!!…. Don’t Tell Me podcast playing through my speakers.
The trailhead is conveniently located about 10 miles south of Idaho Springs in the West Chicago Lake Campground. You’ll find out a little later my ulterior motive for hiking near Idaho Springs. 😜
Here are the trail stats for you:
If you didn’t pack a map (tisk, tisk), snap a pic with your phone of the map at the trailhead. It’s a fairly straight shot up to Hells Hole following the West Chicago Creek.
The rocky trail starts through brilliant, green aspen and spruce-fir forest. You can hear the roar of the water rushing down the creek on your left. The elevation gain is about 1200 feet within the first two miles.
The trail levels out a bit after those first couple of miles. There is still some elevation to gain, but it is much more gradual from here on out.
Full disclosure: I started hiking around 11am. This is so much later than I should have started. As most of us are aware, this time of year, Colorado gets storms regularly after noon. I had my eyes on the sky just as much as I had them watching my footing on the trail.
I took this pano from the willows close to the entrance of the Hells Hole valley.
The valley is home to these incredible, resilient Bristlecone pines that are anywhere from 700 to 1600 years old. Talk about tough! They have adapted to survive in the harsh, windy, high altitude conditions.
Looking back on the trail that I had just arrived on, those clouds tell me that I won’t get to hang around too long up here at 11,572 feet.
This is the view of the swampy, rocky marshland that is Hells Hole at the base of Grey Wolf Mountain.
Bristlecone Pines also make excellent tripods. 📸
One last pic, and then it is time to hustle down this mountain. It’s amazing how fast you can move when you hear a rumble of thunder. Or was that just my stomach growling?
That brings me to my ulterior motive for hiking near Idaho Springs…
Westbound and Down Brewing Company, my favorite stop after a play day in the mountains. Their juicy, delicious signature burger hits the spot Every. Single. Time. No, they aren’t paying me to say that, but they should. I would take payment in the form of their delicious Soberish Monk Belgian beer😉. Seriously, go get yourself one after your next adventure 🍔 and you won’t be disappointed.
Til next time guys! Keep following your nose!🌄