Herman Gulch Trail

Arapaho National Forest, Colorado

Distance3.2mi
Elevation Gain2,000ft
Trailhead Elevation10,299ft
Top12,021ft
Elevation Min/Max10299/12021ft
Elevation Start/End10299/10299ft

Herman Gulch Trail

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.

Herman Gulch Trail Professional Reviews and Guides

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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."

"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."

Herman Gulch Trail Reviews

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9/14/2018
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7/24/2018
One of my favorite hikes in the area! So amazing, with crazy beautiful wildflowers, trees, water, and stunning views. Portions of the trail are definitely steep but it is such a breath taking trail, totally worth the workout.
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10/16/2014
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.
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7/22/2012
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.
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6/30/2012
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!
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5/22/2011
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!
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8/1/2010
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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8/22/2009
Fantastic hike! Arrive early!!! This was an alternate hike for me after I discovered Guenella Pass was closed. I camped at the trail head the night before and was up and on the trail by 7am and there were many who were on the trail before me. I took my dog off leash (which is allowed here) and she had a blast. The first 1/2 mile is pretty steep and reasonably intense, followed by a more gradual incline that winds through meadows and forests with plenty of water for your dog. The final push before the lake is pretty steep, so be prepared. I was up to the lake by 9am and once I headed down around 9:45 the trail was a freeway. By the time I hit the trail head parking at 11am it was packed, so I suggest a very early start. Overall, great hike - very scenic and dog friendly. LOTS of dogs on this hike the on the way down, so be prepared.
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7/29/2006
Left early with little traffic but by noon on our descent trail up was heavily travelled. Many with dogs.
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8/29/2005
Although steep at the beginning and end, this trail is worth the views and the flowers. Very easy access right off I-70 and wasn't in heavy use on an August Sunday afternoon. Nice creek flows by most of the trail and beautiful lake and 13,000 ft. peak views at the top.
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Herman Gulch Trail Photos

Trail Information

Arapaho National Forest
Nearby City
Arapaho National Forest
Parks
Dog-friendly
Accessibility
Wildflowers
Features
Arapaho National Forest, Clear Creek Ranger District, Idaho Springs Visitor Center, 2060 Miner Street, Idaho Springs; 303-567-4382; www.fs.usda.gov/detail/arp
Local Contacts
USGS Loveland Pass, Grays Peak; National Geographic Trails Illustrated 104 Idaho Springs/ Loveland Pass; Latitude 40°: Colorado Front Range Trails
Local Maps

Activity Feed

Nov 2018