RT Length: 15.2 miles
Elevation Gain: 4323’
I get requests for this route quite a bit, and unfortunately, since I did it so early in my hiking days, I didn’t have a GPX file for the route. So this week, when the weather was extra windy above treeline, I decided to do the route again to get a good GPX file. Contact me if you’d like a copy.
I arrived at the Heizer Trailhead at 6am. It’s important to note you cannot park at the trailhead itself, but instead at the southwest corner of Cascade Park, at the corner of Park Street and Anemone Hill Road.
It was dark and icy and I had to put my truck into 4WD to back into a spot. There’s room for 5 vehicles if everyone parks nicely, and if not, 2 or 3.
I gathered my gear and was on the road at 6:20am. This is a class 1 trail from the beginning to the end. To begin, I followed the road a short distance as it curved east and then south to the trailhead.
Here’s a picture of the trailhead
The first mile of this hike is strictly elevation gain. I gained 1925’ in the first 2.4 miles of this hike, switchbacking up the side of the mountain.
Just before the elevation gain stops for good it dips down a bit
And then climbs to the highpoint
This is an obvious highpoint. “Cascade Mountain” is to the west, but you’ll need ropes to climb it (no worries, it’s unranked anyway). I continued on the trail as it now curved southwest, losing 575’ of elevation in just over a mile as it wound down to the creek.
There’s a cool rock formation as you take your first switchback down (it’s on the left)
And then it’s down, down, down, following the drainage
There’s an obvious junction, where you turn left to go to Mt Manitou (I’ll be doing this sometime soon, just because) and right to go to Barr Trail. I turned right, following trail 703.
I quickly came to another sign. Here you have to go left to avoid the Manitou Springs Water Shed and reservoir. They’re very serious about their signage of no trespassing here (something I appreciate). The sign said it was 2.5 miles from here to Barr Trail. Someone had scribbled in “4 miles” underneath. My CalTopo GPX shows it’s 4.4 miles (so obviously, the 2.5 miles is wrong; don’t get your hopes up).
I turned left at the sign, and crossed North Fork French Creek and the trail became Trail 638.
From here the well-traveled trail I’d been hiking on was now snow covered, with only one set of footprints. These footprints lasted the entire way to Barr Trail, and made it so I didn’t need to put on snowshoes. Yes, I still postholed at times, and I thought it interesting there were no footprints going in the opposite direction. It hasn’t snowed in a week, so this is proof this trail doesn’t get much use (especially in winter). Here are some pictures from along the trail, as it wound south towards Barr Trail. Notice how frequently the terrain changes? The snow levels changed too, depending on how much sun that side of the mountain received.
I crossed South Fork French Creek on a log bridge and followed the trail another 1/3 of a mile to Barr Trail. This part had some uphill to it, but was still on a class 1 trail, and bonus: it looked like some snowshoers had been I the area.
I made it to Barr Trail at 10:20am. It had taken me 4 hours to get from Heizer Trail to Barr Trail in less than ideal conditions (January). CalTopo says it was 7.75 miles of hiking. It’s obvious when you get to Barr Trail, as you come to a ‘T’ in the trail, and see this metal sign. Going right will take you to Barr Camp / Pikes Peak, going left will take you to the Manitou Incline and Barr Trail Parking Lot.
I turned around and headed back the way I’d come, following my tracks. Here are pictures of the trail in reverse. Next time I do this hike I think I want to do PT 10245 with it (I’ve already summited this point, but from the other side. It looks easily doable from this trail as well).
Back over North Fork French Creek
And following the creek to the junction, where I turned left and followed Heizer Trail
Here I gained 575’ of elevation as I hiked to the highest point (once again, cool rock formations at the highest point here). This is also where I started seeing other hikers on the trail. It looks like most people just hike to Cascade Mountain, but some make it all the way to the junction.
And then I followed the trail back down to the trailhead, losing 1925’ of elevation as I did so.
Then I followed the road back to my truck.
I made it back to my truck at 1:20pm, making this a 15.2 mile hike with 4323’ of elevation gain in 7 hours.