This is a hike I have wanted to do for a long time, but made excuses not to do it…it is too busy, the drive is too far…etc. When I planned the hike, the weather was supposed to be perfect for catching a beautiful sunrise. There I go again with those best laid plans. As it turned out, the day was completely overcast and misty. Instead of heading out before dawn, I decided to sleep in a little and hit the trail a bit later. My master plan had it timed for us to be getting to the tower about the same time as the ranger.
Devil’s Head Trail is about thirty miles from the house, with a drive time of close to an hour. After turning off 105, we traveled on Jackson Creek Road for twelve miles. All along this road were several trail heads and dispersed camping sites. I am not sure, but I think a big portion of the trails are open to motorized vehicle use. This doesn’t interest us, but it might some. If interested, you can check out the Deckers/Rampart Range Trails Illustrated Map. Given the close proximity to Denver Metro, I would expect this place sees a lot of weekend traffic.
The parking lot for Devil’s Head is sizable and has restrooms. There is some graffiti at the trailhead, and the interpretive signs are long gone, replaced by sharpie written sentiments like “hi mom”, “xyz was here”, and “get high”. Much like Mount Herman, the trail was riddled with switchback cuts, defaced signs, and social trails. Surprisingly, however, all the benches along the way were in great shape. Given all the places to rest, I thought this might be a good trail for Grrpa and Nonna to do with Drake.
The hike itself is a short one at only 2.8 miles round trip with an elevation gain of 940’. Keep in mind, however, there are 143 stairs to climb to get to the actual lookout tower. Despite the rains, the trail was in good condition. You can tell it sees a lot of traffic because of the trail infrastructure. It is built to handle a lot of feet. Just shy of reaching the tower, the trail splits. There is a cut down tree with arrows showing you which way to go. If you follow the arrow left, the trail takes you to an incredible lookout; a bit of scrambling is required to get to the actual lookout point. Drake and I didn’t do the scramble on this occasion.
Once you reach the ranger cabin (it was under construction), there is a nice open area equipped with vault toilets and a campground. The campground was full of Youth Corps workers that were assisting with the cabin restoration. The actual climb to the tower wasn’t as bas as I feared. A step back in time welcomes you at the top of the stairs. I thought it was a truly magical little building, and I was utterly fascinated. I goofed though. My perfect plan of arriving when the ranger did (we reached the top of the stairs at 850 AM) was foiled. A sign noted the ranger is in the cabin 930-600. Alas, cloudy skies and lack of a ranger means we will have to do this trail again.
One last important note, if there are storms in the forecast, the tower and trail are not open. This is another reason we opted for an early start. Rampart Range Road also has seasonal closures. Due to this, the season for this trail is limited.
Until next time,