Rt Length: 10 miles
Elevation Gain: 3499’
Winter and spring summits tend to be all about being flexible: snow is usually present but the ability to hike through it is unpredictable. We started out wanting to hike some highpoints along Rampart Range Road, but when we got to the road it was closed (but looked to be in great shape, so I’m not sure why it wasn’t open?). So we sat in the truck for a bit, trying to decide where to go. We had chosen these peaks today because Steffen’s knees were hurting him and he was looking to hike something short. The only other peaks I’d done any research on in the area were Sheep and Mary’s, so we decided to go there. Please note, I hadn’t done much research on them, but I had a map…
We parked at the Barr Trail Parking lot as all the other parking lots in the area are closed due to the Coronavirus. We were the only vehicle in the lot when we arrived, but when we got back there were a few more cars.
I paid the $10 to park and we were off
We backtracked down Hydro Drive to Ruxton and followed Ruxton west
Crossed a small bridge over Ruxton Creek
And made our way up to the cog railway tracks (which are gone now because they’re re-doing the tracks/cog/cars).
Signs told us we were on National Forest Land
We followed the tracks for 3 miles. Let me tell you, this is much, much steeper than it looks! I kept expecting the road to even out a bit, but it just kept getting steeper and steeper. There were some neat waterfalls and rock formations to see along the way
They also have materials to start setting new tracks
After 3 miles we were supposed to turn left to head up the side of Sheep Mountain, but the snow here was several feet deep and Steffen didn’t have his snowshoes. We considered continuing up the cog tracks but there was a “no trespassing” sign and even though the cog is obviously not running it seemed a bad idea to continue hiking on private property. So I got out my Pikes Peak Atlas and noticed we were at the junction to 706, what looked to be an ATV route. It looked like it would eventually hook up with Barr Trail, so here we turned right and followed the trail.
We hiked across a bridge carrying a water pipe over Cabin Creek that kind of freaked Steffen out a little (he’s not too fond of heights)
And continued following the trail around the mountainside.
It was a nice path, and there were several places along the way I thought would be great backpacking spots (I can see hanging a hammock here for the night)
The trail eventually led us to the Barr Trail, where it intersects just past the Experimental Forest, and right where I distributed flower seeds in memory of my Granny a few years ago.
We turned right (east) and followed the trail to the Experimental Forest Junction.
At the junction we decided to summit Mt Manitou today, just to say we’d summited something. So here we turned left and followed the road north, past the Experimental Forest
And up the road to its highest point, where we left the road and headed north to the summit of Mt Manitou.
It was rockier than I’d remembered, and further from the trail, but an easy trek. The views of Pikes Peak are wonderful!
Oh, this is the ‘summit’ of Mt Manitou
It was windy so we headed back to Barr Trail and followed it for 3 miles back to the parking lot. It ended up being a good hike, with decent mileage and elevation gain. As an added bonus, I found a way to connect the Barr Trail with the cog. I filed that information away for later use.
As we were getting ready to head home we had a squirrel come up to the door of my truck. It moved back and forth a few times and looked like it wanted to jump into my truck. I’m guessing he was hungry: he stole one of my Do-si-do Girl Scout Cookies!
This little guy obviously didn’t understand social distancing so I closed my door and we drove away. I didn’t want to take a squirrel home with me!
Here’s the route we took today