As some of you may have already noticed, I’ve decided to do a little bit of organizing here on the blog since we’ll be living in Colorado for the foreseeable future and most of my posts will be about the state. So far, I’ve begun a Rocky Mountain National Park series of posts and this Colorado Day Hikes series. I’ll also be maintaining a Colorado 13ers and Colorado 14ers series as we summit more of these peaks, and next week I’ll be starting a Colorado Destinations series to chronicle our non-hiking adventures. Hopefully this will keep everything organized and also make it easier for you guys to sort through all my Colorado posts.
So today, for Colorado hike #2, we have Herman Gulch!
I hiked Herman Gulch with a couple girls from the Women Who Hike group in mid-September, right in the height of fall color season. Fall in Colorado isn’t nearly as colorful as fall in New England, but the yellow leaves on the aspen and willow trees definitely added some bursts of color to the landscape.
The trailhead for Herman Gulch is right off of I-70 about an hour west of Denver. You will hear traffic noise for the first section of the hike, but the trail quickly climbs up and away from the highway. AllTrails ranks this hike as moderate, but there are sections of it that are downright difficult. It’s not a consistent hike; rather, the trail alternates between somewhat flat and extremely steep. There was lots of huffing and puffing.
The trail begins in the trees before crossing into open meadow, where it meanders along the creek lined with willow bushes. I imagine there are moose in the area as they eat many parts of the willow, but we didn’t see any.
Eventually, the trail reaches Herman Lake, a small, shallow lake that sits beneath the back wall of Herman Gulch. It is possible to follow unofficial trails up to the ridgeline and surrounding peaks, though we opted to stop at the lake and enjoy the view.
This is a popular trail in the winter too, so if you’re looking for a moderate, pretty hike relatively close to Denver, I recommend adding Herman Gulch to your to-do list!
The Important Stuff
- Getting there: the Herman Gulch trailhead is off I-70 WB exit 218; turn right into the dirt lot and park
- Fees and passes: none
- Hiking: 6.3 miles (10.1 km) roundtrip with about 1800 feet (550 m) of elevation gain; moderate
- Where to stay: there are lots of camping and other lodging options in the area, as much of the surrounding land is National Forest and the trailhead isn’t too far from ski country
- Other: there are no trash cans at the trailhead; when I was there lots of people had left their bagged up dog poop in a pile near the bathrooms (gross), or dropped it into the pit toilets (causes problems with pumping out the toilets). Please pack out all your trash