If our trip to Devil’s Head Tower taught me anything, it was to have a couple of backup options. I always had a pocket full of places to go when we lived in NoCO, but since we’ve been here, I have picked out a place, researched it, and went. The dreary weather at Devil’s Head put a damper on the trip. I should have had a second choice picked out that didn’t depend on bluebird skies. I learned from that, and The Crags happened to be our second choice for this particular Wednesday.

After sleeping in a bit, and having a leisurely breakfast, I knew we wouldn’t be able to accomplish the seven miles we had originally planned. Instead, I chose to do the five mile (round trip) hike to the Crags. It was a bit longer drive, but the elevation gain and mileage was less, which were important factors considering our late start.

A full parking lot greeted us, but we snuck in a parallel spot. As I have mentioned before, the trails around here receive a lot of traffic.There are two trails here, one of them being Devil’s Playground, which I suspect is the trail that had more visitors. Drake and I didn’t see many people on the way up, and were able to enjoy lunch all by our lonesome on the summit.

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As dismayed as I was about Mt. Herman, I was equally pleased with The Crags. This trail was perfect for Drake, and I imagine all families. The area reminded me a lot of Lumpy Ridge, similar granite domes are found all along The Crags Trail. Another great thing for us, we followed Four Mile Creek for a large portion of the trail. Hikes are always better when flowing water is present! The trail is relatively flat with an elevation gain of only 578’. It is an out and back, about 4.5 miles round trip if you don’t do any exploring around the top, or along the way.

The trail is well marked, and we only encountered a few spots where this spring’s rains damaged the trail. There were a couple of spots where we got our feet wet, but for the most part there were logs set up over marshy areas. Once we entered the pine forest, the trail began to climb. This is where you gain the most elevation. Drake walked a bit of this section, but ultimately got in the pack until we reached the summit.

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Once we reached the top, we made time to take in the views and have snacks. I couldn’t believe we had this little slice of heaven all to ourselves. Three hundred and sixty degree views were a pleasant reward for such an easy, short hike. We could see the northwest slope of Pike’s Peak and Catamount Lake and Crystal Creek Reservoir, the Sawatchs, the Mosquitoes, and the plains. I imagine climbing would be good here too, but we didn’t see any climbers on this particular day.

Perhaps the best treat of all were the Bristlecone Pines. These ancient trees have so many stories to tell; they hold a certain magic for me, a sign of resilience that isn’t quite fathomable. I could have spent all day relaxing in their shade, and feeding off their magic. Alas, I have a toddler, and his agenda is always quite different than mine.

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On the way down, we met a lot of people. Of course, everyone wanted to give Neva some love. However, I do wonder how all those people fared, as storms started to rush in during the last half mile of the hike. No one had anything but water bottles and the clothes on his/her back. By the time we hit the car, crazy lightening filled the skies, and thunder shook the windows. Another reason we like to get such early starts!  Even with the late start, our timing was perfect. I attribute that to learning the lesson of a backup plan.

Until next time…

Written by Stephanie Mullins

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