While it’s a bit of a drive, Lost Creek Wilderness in the Tarryall Mountains is a must visit hiking area that features top notch fall colors and an abundance of unique rock formations. Colors begin showing in September at higher elevations and work their way downslope into mid-October.
At these times, since the elevation of this hike ranges from 8,000-10,000 feet, the chances are quite good for seeing colors somewhere along the way.
From Colorado Springs, travel west on U.S. 24 and just past Lake George turn right on County Road 77/Tarryall Road. Head north for about 7 miles and turn right on dirt County Road 211. Follow the winding road, where the burn scar from the Hayman Fire of 2002 created open areas with expansive views to the east of Sheep Rock and Cheesman Mountain. The road bisects many aspen groves providing a colorful tunnel of aspen gold.
After about 17.5 miles, turn left on the dirt road leading to the parking area at Goose Creek Trailhead about a mile away.
Hike on Goose Creek Trail for about a quarter-mile and cross a footbridge. After the bridge cut left on signed Hankins Pass Trail. The trail follows a small creek with about a dozen crossings. The bridges/logs over the creek can be slippery after rain or snow, making this a hike for the surefooted. Deciduous shrubs and aspen groves add splashes of color to the hike. Hikers may get lucky and spot a Dusky Grouse strutting along the trail.
Climbing toward the Pass, some views open up revealing granite rock formations that inspire the imagination. After about 4.5 miles intersect Lake Park Trail and the summit of Hankins Pass. Flat terrain at the Pass provides an ideal spot for a snack break before turning around and retracing the route back to the parking area.
Joe LaFleur has lived in Woodland Park since 2016 and is a hiking enthusiast who hits the trails weekly. Contact Joe with questions or feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org. Hiking is great exercise but can be hazardous. Always be sure to plan well, check the weather, bring a printed map and tell someone where, when you are going and contact them when you return safely.