RT Length: 15 miles
Elevation Gain: 4300’
I hiked part of the Heizer trail earlier this year when I was a bit rushed for time, so today I decided to hike it all the way to the Barr Trail.
I parked just outside of Cascade Park (the ONLY place you’re allowed to park to hike this trail).
And began by walking down the street and up the hill to the left. Once at the top of the driveway, the trail starts to the left.
I began at 7am. The trail conditions varied from completely clear, to covered in snow, to covered in ice. I never needed microspikes, but they would have come in handy crossing a couple of small streams (I had them but didn’t want to take the time to put them on: I just looked for a safer route and slipped a lot but never fell).
The trail had awesome signs indicating which trails were which. I LOVE these kinds of signs! There was no ambiguity: I could have hiked this route without a topo map.
I hiked up the Heizer Trail, over Cascade Mountain (9387’) and down to the Manitou Reservoir and Trail 638. This is where I lost about 2000’ in elevation (to be gained again on the way back). There were tons of signs letting me know I was in a watershed area and to hike off trail. From here I crossed French Creek and saw a rock painted like a fish. I’m assuming this part of the creek usually has more water…
Shortly after crossing French Creek I came to some amazing views of Pikes Peak! It’s wonderful how many different views this mountain offers!
The view never gets old!
From here signs indicated it was another 2.5 miles to Barr Trail, but it seemed much, much longer than that. I got in a lot of good thinking. After what seemed like forever I was deposited onto the Barr Trail. Here:
Immediately I thought: NO WAY!!! This CANNOT be where I’m supposed to end up? I thought I was supposed to connect close to Barr Camp, and I knew just by looking at where I was it was still miles away! I decided to hike up Barr Trail to the nearest mile marker sign. They’re placed every half mile, so the most I’d need to hike to get an accurate accounting of where I was was only half a mile. I hiked almost half a mile and saw this sign: MM5!!!
I didn’t really mentally calculate the distance I’d be hiking today, and it wasn’t until I hit this part of the Barr trail it hit me just how long this hike actually was. Hiking in from Heizer Trail added on 3 miles each way to Barr Camp… that meant this was an 18 mile round trip hike! Hmmm… Barr Camp was still almost 2 miles ahead of me. I looked at the time: I still had an hour before I had to turn back, so I had plenty of time, but when I looked up and saw those clouds moving in I knew I had to turn back: those were snow clouds, and forming rapidly.
I sighed inwardly: Oh well, I’ve been to Barr Camp over a dozen times. My main goal today was to find out where the Heizer trail connected with the Barr Trail, and I figured it out: at about MM4.5 I still had a minimum of 3 hours of hiking ahead of me, and needed to get a move on to stay ahead of that snow.
The hike back seemed shorter than the hike in, but it still went on forever, through the woods and over several mountains. Here’s a view of Pikes Peak on the way back:
The 2000’ in elevation gain on the way back didn’t hurt as much as I’d anticipated, and when I got to Cascade Mountain I saw something I hadn’t on the way in: A small piece of paper under a rock on a boulder. It was a Chinese Drawing. I left it there for whomever it was intended and began my hike down the Heizer Trail. That part of the hike seriously took forever! Those switchbacks never end!
About halfway down the mountain I saw a couple with a dog, headed to Hurricane Canyon. I’ll probably head there next, as it looks interesting! They were the only people I saw all day (besides a runner along the Barr Trail heading to Barr Camp).
I made it back to my truck at 1pm, just as the first snowflakes were beginning to fall. I’d made the right choice to turn back when I did! Soon it was a whiteout, but I was in my truck, so all was well.
So today I hiked 15 miles in 6 hours with 4300+ feet of elevation gain. Here’s a map of my route: