I’ve wanted to take this trail for a long time, but I’ve put
it off because I was working on hiking in another area. The forecast was really cold for last night,
but by 9am this morning the area was supposed to be about 35 degrees, increasing
to 46 by noon. Imagine my dismay when I
left my house at 45 degrees, and headed to the trailhead, watching the
thermometer drop to as low as 16 degrees before settling at around 21 degrees
at the trailhead. I bundled up in my hat,
gloves, and coat, and headed out.
I parked at the Heizer Trailhead, and for updated
information, you can no longer park near the “Snow Plow Turn Around”
signs. You must park about 800 feet
below the trailhead, directly next to the park. There are about 3 available spaces, so plan accordingly.
Once you hike up the single lane road you’ll clearly be able
to see the beginning of the trail.
The trail quickly gains in elevation, with tons of pretty
steep and relatively short switchbacks that continue for just under 3 miles. There
are several game trails that veer off at most of the switchback junctions, but
you can tell they’re not part of the trail because about 3 feet up the branches
cover the path. It could get confusing in
the dark however.
At about 2.5 miles you’ll come upon a large boulder
area. I stopped here for a bit to play, and
then continued on to the left. Cascade
Mountain is another half mile.
The true summit of Cascade Mountain can be difficult to
find, as there are two areas with large boulders very close to each other. I did some climbing and made the “summit”.
Most of the hikes in the Pikes Peak region have great views
of Pikes Peak. This was no different,
but included an angle I hadn’t seen before.
I wasn’t just interested in summiting Cascade Mountain
today, but also in learning more about the trail system. I know the Heizer Trail connects with the
Barr Trail below Barr Camp, which makes it another way to summit Pikes Peak
without paying $40 a night to park at Barr Trail. It adds 6 miles round trip, but takes you through
an area not often hiked. I didn’t intend
to hike all the way to Barr Camp but I desperately WANTED to, my time limitations
just didn’t allow it today. My goal
today was to find the connecting routes that would eventually take me to Barr
Camp. They were much easier than
anticipated! Check out these signs:
It was still early, so I decided to follow the trail for a
bit to see how established it was. The trail
was very well marked, which is great because I plan to hike it in the
dark. At this point the trail was
heading down the mountain toward the Manitou Reservoir, and I stopped to take
out my map. Check it out! I was near another peak! I decided to summit and take a look around. This ‘peak’ has no name, it’s just referred
to as point 9298’
The summit didn’t offer very good views… but I could make
out Manitou Reservoir
At this point I decided to turn back. I really wanted to continue on, but it was
obvious the trail headed down for quite a bit and I wasn’t interested in making
up the elevation on the way back.
Normally I would be, but today I was pressed for time. I was happy with today’s progress and started
the hike back the way I’d come.
When I got to Cascade Mountain I got a different view of the
area, and saw this really cool rock balancing between two boulders! What fun!
Here is a sloppily put together panorama of the hike back to
Cascade. You can see the devastation
from the Waldo Canyon Fire, and the North Pole.
Here’s the route I took today. It ended up being about 6.5 miles, with 2800’
of elevation gain.
Oh, and for those of you studying the map, you take the 638
to Barr Camp…