Herman Gulch Trail

Arapaho National Forest, Colorado

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Herman Gulch Trail is a hiking trail in Clear Creek County, Colorado. It is within Arapaho National Forest. It is 3.2 miles long and begins at 10,299 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 6.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,000 feet. Near the trailhead there is parking. Along the trail there is a quarry. The trail ends near the Herman Lake water.
Distance: mi Elevation: ft
Herman Gulch Trail is a hiking trail in Clear Creek County, Colorado. It is within Arapaho National Forest. It is 3.2 miles long and begins at 10,299 feet altitude. Traveling the entire trail is 6.4 miles with a total elevation gain of 2,000 feet. Near the trailhead there is parking. Along the trail there is a quarry. The trail ends near the Herman Lake water. This trail connects with the following: Continental Divide Trail.
Activity Type: Climbing, Fishing, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Mountain Biking, Trail Running, Walking
Nearby City: Arapaho National Forest
Distance: 3.2
Elevation Gain: 2,000 feet
Trailhead Elevation: 10,299 feet
Top Elevation: 12,021 feet
Features: Wildflowers
Accessibility: Dog-friendly
Driving Directions: Directions to Herman Gulch Trail
Parks: Arapaho National Forest
Elevation Min/Max: 10299/12021 ft
Elevation Start/End: 10299/10299 ft
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Best Summit Hikes: Denver to Vail

Best Summit Hikes: Denver to Vail

Welcome to summit hiker’s heaven. This trailhead is extremely popular with day hikers, most of whom are out for a stroll to Herman Lake and never set foot on a single mountaintop. None of the summits in this area have formal trails, but all of them are worthy adventures.

Hikers make a decision early in their day: go west to Herman Gulch or east to Watrous Gulch... or link up the two gulches via an inconspicuous summit between the two. Two excellent Class 3 routes and several Class 2 walk-ups make this a trailhead you’ll revisit many times.

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Hiking Colorado's Summit County Area

Hiking Colorado's Summit County Area

The popular hike to Herman Lake starts on an old sawmill road through thick forest. The trail then wanders through fields of colorful wildflowers with spectacular views of the Continental Divide. Most of the trail doubles as a section of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail. A last steep pitch takes you to treeline where the trail mellows on the final stretch to Herman Lake, nestled in a bowl at 12,000 feet below Pettingell Peak.

Herman Hassell, an early timber operator in the area, supposedly named Herman Gulch after himself. While timber may have been Herman’s ambition, today wildflower aficionados consider this trail a “100 wildflower” or “century” hike because of the possibility of seeing about a hundred different flower species during peak bloom in late July.

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Best Hikes Near Denver and Boulder

Best Hikes Near Denver and Boulder

The popular hike to Herman Lake starts on an old sawmill road through thick forest. The trail then wanders through ?elds of colorful wild?owers, with spectacular views of the Continental Divide.

Most of the trail doubles as a section of the Continental
Divide National Scenic Trail. A last steep pitch takes you to treeline, where the trail mellows on the ?nal stretch to Herman Lake, nestled in a bowl at 12,000 feet with Pettingell Peak towering above.

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Best Hikes with Dogs: Colorado

Best Hikes with Dogs: Colorado

Dogs love this hike because of the numerous rivulets and minor streamlet crossings along the trail. This is an enormously popular trail, so the Forest Service now requires that dogs be leashed. However, this should not deter you from taking your dog on this hike.

Once up the old lumber road, the trail intersects numerous rivulets that flow down the slope into Herman Creek. In the lodgepole pine forest, the ground is spongy and pleasant to hike on. When you get to Herman Lake, dogs know exactly what to do. Most hikers let them off leash for a quick swim or a game of “fetch” in the still but frigid water of the alpine tarn.

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Colorado's Best Wildflower Hikes: The Front Range

Colorado's Best Wildflower Hikes: The Front Range

The Herman Gulch Trail is heavily traveled due to its generous wildflower displays and its close proximity to the Front Range. Highlighted by a bounty of blue columbine in mid- to late June, the trail draws wildflower aficionados who can find roughly 100 wildflower species at peak bloom (late July).

Add mountain-girt vistas and an alpine lake, and the hike, though a bit strenuous at the start and on the final pitch, is one of the best around. Wildflower alert: A “century” trail with more than 100 wildflower species at peak bloom, plus an abundance of blue columbine in June.

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Hiking Colorado's Roadless Trails

Hiking Colorado's Roadless Trails

Herman Gulch is popular with families because of moderate terrain, proximity to metro Denver, and culmination at a high-altitude lake surrounded by jagged mountains. It’s a great example of how people in average physical condition can access and enjoy spectacular roadless areas on national forests.

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The Colorado Year Round Outdoor Guide

The Colorado Year Round Outdoor Guide

By late June, this high valley becomes resplendent with many varieties of exquisite, colorful flowers. By late June, the higher valleys become resplendent with many varieties of exquisite, colorful flowers. Herman Gulch trailhead, less than an hour from Denver, is an excellent place to enjoy flowers, camp or have a family backpack picnic.

The initial part of this hike is a bit steep, as is the last section before reaching Herman Lake. You never need to use your hands for balance, with several easy creek crossings. Be sure to bring a flower guide, hand lens and a macro lens for your camera. At each creek crossing there are colorful water-loving plants such as Parrys primrose and queens crown. Once at the above-treeline lake, explore the tundra closely on your hands and knees. Tiny, yellow alpine avens dot the landscape in uncountable numbers.

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Recent Trail Reviews

10/16/2014
0

Hiked this trail on a beautiful October Day. Very steep to start, levels out until you get to the lake. Areas of ice in the shade, should have brought trekking poles for this time of year. The lake is pretty much frozen but still pretty. Terrific mountain views all along the way, good workout.


7/22/2012
0

Drove up from Denver and got to the trailhead by 9a. We made it to the lake by about 12, so 3 hours. And down in under an hour. There are some difficult/steep areas at the beginning and end of trail. Trail has both meadows and wooded portions, and wildflowers are beautiful. The trail is picturesque with the creek following, wildflowers, and the summit views. Trail had moderate amount of people and dogs. Very few bikes, no horses. Only major downfall was the I-70 traffic on the way home.


6/30/2012
0

Mileage might be more appropriate at 6.8 - 7.0 miles based upun sign at base and other web-sites. Wife & I are 49 & 52 respectively and are slow, steady hikers. 2 hours 31 minutes up to lake and total 4.5 hours. Trail is steep by our standards...but we just sopped frequently to take in the beauty - especially the dense forested areas!!! We were one of the first few cars there and on trail by 7. still saw people starting hike when we got back to car which seemed way too late. Excellent photo opportunities (was glad we lugged the camera). Bring bug spray for snack time at lake...Finally - saw numerous dogs leaving their markers - saw no-body picking up after them...PLEASE PACK IT OUT!


5/22/2011
0

This was a great day and area to snowshoe as it was sunny and very little wind. The start of the trail was pretty clear as other skiers/snowshoers had hiked the first mile or so, but after that there was no trail. I passed 2 other skier/snowshoer and they had pointed the general direction of where the lake was. So, i kept snowshoeing within the gulch and did notice a very faint trail that was just recently covered with snow. i followed that trail as best as i could and it led me out of the gulch and up through some trees to just east of the lake. coming out of treeline, the view of the continental divide was absolutely amazing! from treeline to the lake, i pretty much made my own trail. luckily i also had a gps, so i kind of knew which direction the lake was as there was no trail. the lake still had a lot of snow so i couldn't see any part of the lake, just a slight depression in the snow. all in all, a great hike for snowshoeing with spectacular views! can't wait till the snow melts to hike up this again to see all the wildflowers!


8/1/2010
0

Saturday (maybe sunday...) at 7 is when I started this trail. No one was on the trail besides one person/couple off the trail a bit about 3/4th of the way up. Maybe it's because I went out so late, but not busy at all. When I got there there was only one car that left, then when I was down no other car were gone. I took my dog, off leash. The sign says that there is supposed to be a leash. I don't think to many hikers care about that though. I visit Montana often and there are amazing trails up there obviously. This is one that rivals a good amount of trails and places up there. Hard work to get up there, and I see why now. They say that it is supposed to take 5 hours, though me and Shadow got up there in 1.5 hours and 45 minutes to get down. The beginning of the trail is intense and the end is also, even more so. In between is nice and calm though. Saw an elk, which was cool. Overall great trail.



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May 2018