National Forest, just north of Woodland, Park
Access: From the center of Woodland Park, head east a bit to Baldwin St (at the McDonald’s). Head north on Baldwin St as it becomes Rampart Range Road for 2.1 miles, then turn west into the small trailhead parking lot just south of the water treatment plant, just as the road curves east. The TH is a little hard to find as there is no signage on the road to indicate where to turn. Best to look for the City of Woodland Park Fleet Maintenance sign and turn there. If you take the curve and start heading east, you've gone to far.
Maps: USGS 7.5’ Quad: Mt Deception
Trail: Begins at 8600’, winds through the woods for ½ mile to a 3.75-mile loop. Following counter-clockwise, the trail gradually rises through pine, spruce and aspen while following a small, seasonal stream. Elevation tops out at 9300’ (700’ gain) at Rampart Range Rd, then follows a relatively-open ridgeline back downhill to the trail split. Total hiking mileage is about 5 miles. Multiple spur trails lead off from the trail, but the main route is always wider and usually marked with a Forest Service sign.
Trailhead: NAD83 zone13 496399e 4318795n Elev: 8609'
Dogs: Voice control
Webcam:Woodland Park Webcam
Weather: National Weather Service Point Forecast
NOAA Snow Conditions
June 8, 2008
On a stubbornly cloudy June afternoon, I trundled over to the trailhead south of Lovell Gulch with Frank and Makenzie in the back seat, each hanging a head out a car window, sniffing the breeze and allowing their ears to flap in that way that happy dogs riding in cars always do. They had been put through their paces the last two days on vigorous hikes, and both seemed to be a little less frenzied than usual. I threw some basic gear on my daypack, including my rainjacket, and released the hounds. There were about 5 other cars in the parking lot, and I could see two groups of people, with dogs, nearby. The rainshowers from earlier in the day had been short, and the ground was once again dry, though the sky certainly appeared to have more in store. We walked along the trail through ponderosa pines and a nice green understory of wheatgrass, blooming wild iris and yellow pea. I passed the two groups ahead of me, and came upon a couple on mountain bikes taking things slow. The trail was pretty steep here, so I walked past them, but they would catch me later on the downhill. Makenzie demonstrated her uncanny ability to locate a tennis ball from somewhere in the grass, and it became a treasured possession for the remainder of the hike. Frank trotted along the trail resolutely, stopping to sniff key points of interest, but never leaving the trail for long. This is behavior he exhibits when he is especially tired. I reached a small stream, and the trail split into its loop. I decided to take the right fork, primarily because it looked less steep. The next mile and half of the trail were wonderful, winding along the gulch bottom through thick aspen with fresh green leaves, dark spruce, and red-barked ponderosa. Flowers of all kinds were in bloom and it was a nice, peaceful area. The mountainbikers passed me in a shallow meadow, and a few minutes later, I passed them on a steep uphill climb. We went back and forth like that for quite a while. Eventually, the trail left the gulch, and ran into a pullout on Rampart Range Road. Powerlines ran overhead, and a perfectly straight swath of forest was missing under the powerlines as they ran on into Woodland Park. The trail was clearly visible for a mile or so, winding along the ridgetop under the powerlines. We walked quickly through this less scenic section, although there were a couple of points where Pikes Peak was visible through clearings in the canopy to the south. I can definitely see where this section of trail would be very fun on a bike. And it was on this stretch that the mountain bikers again passed me. Further down, the trail goes uphill again, and I passed the mountainbikers. By this point I was wondering who would get to the trailhead first, answering the question that had arisen in my mind as to the quickest means of completing the loop. Makenzie and Frank trotted on with a purpose, and every 50 yards or so, Makenzie would drop her ball in the middle of the trail for me to kick off into the woods. For her, hiking 5-miles is not enough. She must seek out extra exertion. A final clear view of Pikes Peak and the town of Woodland Park came at a high clearing before the trail plunged steeply down to the west, then followed along a fenceline of private property before finally coming back to the trail junction, completing the loop. From there, it was a quick walk back south towards the car. The mountainbikers passed me about 100 yards shy of the parking lot, finishing first. That answers that question. My own time was something around 1:45. Nice hike and wonderfully close to town. Just before hopping in the car, Makenzie dropped the tennis ball for some other dog to enjoy. They must have some secret understanding in the dog kingdom that a ball you find at a trailhead must be left at the trailhead. Fine by me, it was a pretty sloggy ball by the time we were done.
July 2, 2008
July 6, 2008