Hells Hole Trail

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Trail Distance: 4.5 miles
Time Estimate: 2 hr 40 min
Elevation Gain: 1700 feet
Leash Rule: On Leash
Difficulty: Hard
Parking: Free
Route Type: Out-and-back
Restroom: Yes
Description

The Pawnee National Grassland is home to the Hells Hole Trail, which is used by hikers, runners and horses - and their happy doggos. The trailhead can be found at the end of the West Chicago Creek Road, in the Chicago Creek Campground's picnic area. At the trailhead, you’ll find a vault toilet, and there’s running water at the campground when it’s open. A free, self-issued but mandatory permit can be obtained at the parking area. Chicago Creek Road is a groomed dirt track that’s suitable for 2-wheel drive vehicles.

The initial mile of the Hells Hole Trail travels along the creek in a steep climb of about 1200 feet, then changes to a rocky, but more gradual 500-foot climb through a huge aspen grove. A large natural bench above the creek is pawrfect for a rest and snack before pushing on to the wide, grassy Hells Hole meadow at trail’s end. Alpine willows, wildflowers and small seasonal ponds greet you as you begin the descent into the meadow, parts of which are wet and muddy depending on the season. Sometimes the ponds, or tarns, dry up completely. Be sure to look for the elk, mountain goats and bighorn sheep that roam the meadow and surrounding lodgepole and bristlecone pine forest.

The views from this trail expand as you climb, and the vistas from the rim of Hells Hole are furtastic! Surrounding mountain peaks, typically covered with snow even in summer, sparkle against the sky. Gray Wolf Mountain looms at one side. Many species of birds are found here, including hawks and eagles soaring above in search of lunch, so if you’re into birding be sure to bring your binoculars. Also bring enough water to share, and clean up bags.

Hells Hole is a marvel to see, and while the trail is difficult in some spots this is a furbulous hike for humans and their puppers, with many rewards waiting!

Trail Features
Muddy, Rocky, Steep Inclines, Forest, River, Wetland, Mountains, Grassland
Abundant Wildlife, Wildflowers, Scenic
Cautions & Considerations

The highest parts of this trail are likely to still have deep snow drifts and some ice in mid-June, so be prepared with snowshoes, boots and layered clothing. Your pooch may have a tough time with the snow and ice, especially on the rocky spots. Dog boots will help protect the fur-baby's feet and a coat will protect against the wind. Insects are aggressive here, so be sure to bring bug spray. 

Address
West Chicago Creek Campground W Chicago Creek Road
Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Hours
Mon Open 24 Hours
Tue Open 24 Hours
Wed Open 24 Hours
Thu Open 24 Hours
Fri Open 24 Hours
Sat Open 24 Hours
Sun Open 24 Hours
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Address
West Chicago Creek Campground W Chicago Creek Road
Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Hours
Mon Open 24 Hours
Tue Open 24 Hours
Wed Open 24 Hours
Thu Open 24 Hours
Fri Open 24 Hours
Sat Open 24 Hours
Sun Open 24 Hours