We used Every Trail's directions, description and map of the hike (http://www.everytrail.com/guide/mt-herman-loop). 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.
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:
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!
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.
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.