A Walk in the Woods
by Bill Bruner
Let’s face it, we all love the outdoors - that’s why we’re members of the Sierra Club, but how many of us get a chance to truly appreciate the beauty all around us in this wonderful place we call Colorado? I’m new here, and after spending the majority of my life in the Midwest, I have come to love the splendor that is this lovely state.
I joined the Sierra Club nearly 20 years ago, and appreciate our mission to protect, educate, and to bring to light the things we all need to do to make this place a better place. My mission, though, is simply to enjoy the beauty around me. I have been inspired to write this column in the tradition of John Muir who was one of many that formed the Sierra Club so many years ago. His often-quoted words “The mountains are calling and I must go” is the way I’ve always lived my life.
I hope in this space that I can bring to you the inspiration of the natural world as I see it. As the chapter outings grow, I hope I can share with you what it’s like to be a participant in these hikes & educational opportunities. For now, I will share with you places I have discovered, hikes that I have gone on, and a few pictures to show you - even as a mere glimpse - the beauty all around us in this state.
The hike I want to share with you today is the Devil’s Head fire lookout trail near Sedalia, Co. Although in the distance, this hike appears to be an easy one (1.5 miles each way), but the sheer gain in altitude makes it challenging for the novice hiker. There are many side trails to venture off onto, and our hike turned into 5.5 miles with trying to take everything in.
First, I must caution you that the road to reach the trailhead, although mentioned as improved, is a dirt road with many ruts and bumps, so I would advise driving in a 4-wheel-drive vehicle that can take some of the abuse.
Parking at the trailhead is at a premium; getting there before 10:00 a.m. is strongly advised so you can find a place to park. There are alternate parking places, but they will add a mile or so to your total journey. The trailhead is at the end of the parking area, and pretty easy to find.
The hike begins at approximately 8,900 feet. Immediately you begin the elevation gain; the trail is easy to follow and well maintained, but be prepared for a long trek up: in the 1.5 miles, you gain nearly 1,000 feet.
The first thing I notice is the forest that surrounds you at the start - beautiful Aspens are a great shield from the morning sun. I look to the right and see this huge boulder... how do they just sit there?
As we continue our ascent, the trail at various places opens up to amazing views. The majesty of the panoramic views around you on this trail is well worth the pain of the elevation gain.
Depending on how far you venture off the trail, you can easily see Pikes Peak to the south, and Rocky Mountain National Park to the north.
Take your time, and enjoy each scene that opens up in front you. Venture off the path up the rocks in various places, and see the beauty of the forest all around you.
Soon you’ll reach a flat area where the forest ranger’s house sits. There are pit toilets here but no water, so make sure you bring plenty with you.
You think you’ve made it to the top, but really your journey has just begun.
The next part of the hike is up some 150 stairs to the top of the fire lookout tower.
Although climbing these many steps to the top can be a challenge on its own, I can tell you with certainty that it’s well worth the effort.
The views from the top are simply amazing. If you stop in the working “office” at the top, you can become an honorary member of the “Ancient and Honorable Order of the Squirrels,” and receive a card stating so for your efforts.
The descent is fairly easy; I would suggest a detour on the way down to the Zinn Overlook trail for more amazing views, and a great photo shot of the fire tower.
All in all, this is a wonderful time. I would plan three hours for this hike with stops, and the time to truly enjoy the fire tower.
I hope you enjoyed this, if you have hikes you want to share, drop me an email. 'Til next time, Bill