Saturday, October 26, 2013

Mount Herman Loop

Today we went to Monument and hiked Mount Herman Loop.

We used Every Trail's directions, description and map of the hike (  It is a pretty good description. I read many online comments about people who became lost on Mt Herman.  It made me recall the problems we had at Beaver Creek and I was wondering if I really wanted to hike this mountain! We found it essential to have a GPS because there are a ton of trails that branch off of this one and it was extremely useful to compare our track to the one we downloaded.  I think we would have gotten lost without it, but it was easy with it.

It was windy and cold at the start of the hike, but we didn't hike far before the extra layers came off. It will get close to 60 degrees today.  This wind flag was in front of the parking lot we parked in - the first one we saw after turning onto Red Rocks Drive from Herman Rd.

Here are the stats from our GPS:

Distance: 8.9 miles
Elapsed Time: 4:48
Elevation Gain: 1121 feet
Total Ascent: 2315 feet
Average moving speed: 2.2 mph  Max 4.4 mph

We somehow missed the fact that we were to hike the road (Mt. Herman) up and so initially we were a little confused.  A check of the track Willy downloaded on to our GPS and we knew we were good.  One thing Every Trail didn't mention is that the first three miles are uphill. The incline of the road was gradual though and not difficult -- we tolerated it very well. Plus, because it is a road, the walk was level and not as demanding as climbing up an uneven trail. There were some nice views glancing down.  You can see the road we just hiked up on the left side.

Here is evidence that plants are very hardy and can grow just about anywhere. The roots are grown right into the rock.

Towards the top of the road where trail 715 departs from Herman Road there is a shooting range - at least we heard lots of gunfire.  See the "No Shooting" sign with all the bullet holes in it?  This was a sign of things to come.

We hiked a little more uphill from the trailhead and then started into Limbaugh canyon. Here's a site we don't often see on trails:
A burned out car.  Wonder how that got up here? When we got to a nice rocky spot further down, we decided to take advantage and have a small snack - grapes and cheese -- our favorite.  When we were nearly finished, I heard a bullet whistle over our heads.  I looked at my husband and he confirmed what I thought.  Then two more.  I would have been happy to get off the mountain at this point.  "Hey, there's people down here." I yelled. I would have hiked back the way we came except that was where the shots were coming from. We continued on down the trail, talking a bit louder to make our presence known, and soon walked out of range. It was a little too close for comfort, but now that I'm safe at home I'll admit that I've never heard bullets whistle past before (just like on tv) and that was an experience.  lol! Willy thought these shots had ricocheted off of something up at the shooting range.

Now we are really enjoying the beauty of the canyon not to mention that much of it is downhill which after three miles up is much appreciated.  Much of the trail is covered with a carpet of aspen leaves.  This bridge was NOT to be trusted. lol!

There was a little tiny creek (Monument Creek) that trickled along side the trail and as we walked it was growing a bit bigger.  We had to cross it several times.  Luckily it wasn't very wide, maybe 6 feet or so at its widest and there were either rocks to skip across or trees laid across for us to walk on. Our walking sticks came in VERY handy here! This was the first crossing.

We were surprised to see that there were still some aspens with color left.

We left the woods and entered into a meadow.  We saw plenty of prairie dog mounds, but no snakes!

This trail is popular with mountain bikers.  They looked like they were really having a good time! We did not see any other hikers.

We eventually hiked back into the woods where there were some really large boulders with the creek running through them.  It was very pleasant to hear the bubbling water.

And there were more creek crossings. The second picture actually shows 2 crossings, one on the left and one about 20 foot further where we crossed back again.

A couple of times we saw snow on the path. We were on the shady side of the valley all the time through here -- it felt good -- you get pretty hot hiking.  At Everytrail's Point of Interest 7 we saw Trail 715 Palmer Lake overlook which is so pretty it startles you when you come upon it.

This is a nice view of the south side of Spruce Mountain which is also a very nice hike. It's scary when you can recognize mountains by name.  lol!

After this you have a couple of trail changes - HZ and White Ghost.  Both of these are marked with a sign post.   HZ has you climbing again to avoid private properties.  This trail is very rocky and was hard on my ankles.  I started to trip up on the rocks.  My walking sticks saved me a couple of times.  I'm guessing I wasn't stepping high enough because my legs were pretty tired at this point. Willy was fine. There was some pretty fall colors here still, especially with the light shining through the trees, and woody woodpecker made an appearance.

Close to the end there are some enormous red rocks that are pretty impressive.  Around the corner we found some pretty jovial bikers, one who had popped his tire and was replacing it.

At the end of the hike we saw these leafless bushes that look like they have been lit on fire by the colorful grasses.

When we arrived at the end of the trail it met Red Rocks Dr and there was the parking lot, but not our car!  Yikes! Looking down the street we saw a second parking lot and our car. Whew! The flag on the pole is still now. This hike had a little bit of everything and it's closer to home than some of the others. I can think of a time when the intensity of this trail would have given us pause, but we are feeling pretty good about it! You could shorten this hike by driving up Mt Herman Rd.  There is a small place to park at a trail head shortly before you get to the trail head for trail 715.  Of course you'd have to have two drivers, one to park at the lot where the trail drops you off at the end and one to park near the trail head for trail 715. It would cut off about 3 miles (of uphill climbing) I think.

1 comment:

  1. Love your stories Connie, but that last one was a bit frightening!