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14 of Colorado’s Weirdest Hikes

By: Spencer McKee

As one of the wildest landscapes in the country, there are tons of unique Colorado hikes that you’ll have a hard time comparing to anything else you’ll find in the country. Here’s a collection of a few of our favorite “weird” hikes around the state, ranging from beginner trails to much more difficult routes. Don’t bite off more than you can chew.

devils head -@mrspenceproductions

14. STAND WATCH OVER THE FRONT RANGE (Currently closed)


DEVIL’S HEAD LOOKOUT TOWER

Standing tall on one of the highest points in the Front Range, the Devil’s Head Lookout Tower is an old watch tower that’s still used to spot fires today. It’s reachable by a quick hike with roughly 1,000 feet of elevation gain. If you’re making this hike, be prepared to climb some stairs. The final stretch to the water tower requires you to walk a large, red staircase.
If you’re lucky, there’s a forest ranger named Billy inside of the watch tower. He’s full of information, as he’s been standing post on that spot for 33 years.
Photo Credit: @mrspenceproductions (Instagram).
Paint Mines Interpretive Park. Photo Credit: John Fowler - OutThere Colorado.

13. HIKE AROUND AN OTHERWORLDLY LANDSCAPE


PAINT MINES INTERPRETIVE PARK

Relatively hidden in the small town of Calhan, a walk around the Paint Mines Interpretive Park makes for one of the most unique hikes in the state.
Photo Credit: John Fowler
Paint Mines - OutThere Colorado
PAINT MINES INTERPRETIVE PARK (cont.)

Once you park, head straight for the rock features so that you can explore multicolored spires unlike anything else you’ll find in the state.
Photo Credit: Michael Ciaglo
Gold Camp Tunnels - mark byzewski - OutThere Colorado

12. HIKE ALONG A HAUNTED ROAD


GOLD CAMP ROAD

If you’re looking for a haunted hike near Colorado Springs, a walk along Gold Camp Road can’t be beat. As legend has it, the collapse of one of several tunnels on this route trapped a school bus, resulting in the deaths of all children aboard. While the main road that travels past the collapsed tunnel is more of a road than a hiking trail, it quickly narrows to several routes that sprawl throughout the area. Hikers often report hearing voices and laughter while they’re in the area at night. If you’re looking to park closest to the collapsed tunnel, use the upper lot past Helen Hunt Falls on Cheyenne Canyon Road and head northwest down Upper Gold Camp Road.

Photo Credit: mark byzewski.
Third Gold Camp Tunnel - markbyzewski - OutThere Colorado
GOLD CAMP ROAD (cont.)

Be warned that this area is relatively prone to accidents amongst hikers, as several tall cliffs and loose rock can be found nearby.

Photo Credit: markbyzewski
Dotsero Crater. Photo Credit Big-g at restlessadventurer - OutThere Colorado

11. HIKE TO THE TOP OF A VOLCANIC CRATER


DOTSERO CRATER

Believe it or not, Colorado used to have a landscape full of volcanoes. One that you can still visit is the Dotsero Crater, and it’s actually pretty easy to find. Located on the Dotsero-Ute Trail just before Glenwood Canyon on I-70, you’ll need to take exit 133 heading north on Colorado River Road for about a half-mile to find the trail head. If you want to simply hike to the top of the crater and back to the parking area, it will be roughly 1.25 miles round trip. That being said, some of the more adventurous will choose to head to the bottom of the crater. Just make sure you have a solid plan for getting out.

Photo Credit: Big-g at restlessadventurer.

10. HIKE THROUGH A CANYON


BLACK CANYON OF THE GUNNISON

This one is perhaps the most intense hike on our list. If you want a really unique view of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, you’ll find it at the bottom of this 2,000-foot gorge. You’ll need a permit to do this legally and the human-sized poison ivy plants that grow on the canyon floor will be the least of your worries. You’ll find yourself in a very inaccessible place after a difficult descent, among other wildlife and flash flooding risks. Plan carefully and don’t do this hike if you’re not very experienced. Sounds dangerous, right? But the canyon floor selfie will be worth it.

Photo Credit: Alexey Kamenskiy.
Telluride Via Ferrata - OutThere Colorado

9. HIKE ALONG A CLIFFSIDE


VIA FERRATA, TELLURIDE, COLORADO

Ever want to test your nerves on the wall of a cliff hundreds of feet off the ground? If so, Telluride’s Via Ferrata is your best bet. As climbing meets hiking, brave souls willing to try this one clip in and walk along small footholds in the rock. It’s not for those scared of heights. That being said, if you can muster up the courage to conquer this one, you’ll see one of the most beautiful views Telluride has to offer, including Bridal Veil Falls. If you’ve never done this hike, we encourage you to go on a guided trip with a professional guide service like San Juan Mountain Guides.
Notch Mountain - @explorewithollie - OutThere Colorado

8. HIKE TO DECAYING MOUNTAIN SHELTER


STONE CABIN – NOTCH MOUNTAIN

Built in the 1920s, the Notch Mountain stone cabin is an iconic sight for many climbers seeking to summit Mount of the Holy Cross. Originally built on the southern ridge of Notch Mountain to provide an overnight shelter for visitors and climbers, this is also where the famous snow cross on Mount of the Holy Cross was first photographed.

Photo Credit: @explorewithollie (Instagram).
Loveland Pass Night Sky OutThere Colorado

7. HIKE ALONG THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE


CONTINENTAL DIVIDE

While the Continental Divide Trail (a route from Mexico to Canada) stretches for more than 650 miles in Colorado, one of the easiest places to access it is at the top of Loveland Pass.
Loveland Pass Summit OutThere Colorado
CONTINENTAL DIVIDE (cont.)

You can drive to the top of this pass at 11,990 feet before disembarking from your car to explore the surrounding area.
Loveland Pass Sunrise over the Peaks OutThere Colorado
CONTINENTAL DIVIDE (cont.)

As you reach the high point on the Continental Divide ridge, you can pour a little water off of one side and it will eventually find its way to the Atlantic Ocean, while pouring some off of the other side will send some water to the Pacific.
Guffey Gorge - @mrspenceproductions (Instagram) - OutThere Colorado

6. HIKE TO A HIDDEN COVE


GUFFEY COVE/PARADISE COVE

Called a couple different names, Guffey Cove (or Paradise Cove) is a popular destination for cliff jumpers from all around the state. You’ll have to hike a little over a mile to get there, but as the trail opens up to deliver a beautiful view of the cove below, you’ll know this remote destination was worth the trek.

If you do visit this destination, keep in mind that it’s got a lot of love in recent years. Please utilize the Leave No Trace policies to ensure that future generations can continue to enjoy it. If you pack it in, pack it out! The area is surrounded by several cliffs and a stunning canyon to explore. If you plan on cliff jumping, do so at your own risk.

Photo Credit: @mrspenceproductions (Instagram).
Guffey Cove - Spencer McKee - OutThere Colorado
GUFFEY COVE/PARADISE COVE (cont.)

This is a dangerous sport and water levels of the cove tend to vary depending on the season.

Photo Credit: Spencer McKee

5. HIKE TO A GHOST TOWN


CRYSTAL MILL

While there are plenty of ghost towns all around the state of Colorado, one of the most iconic abandoned spots is the town of Crystal. Its most notable structure is the Crystal Mill.
Crystal Mill Colorado River OutThere Colorado
CRYSTAL MILL (cont.)

If you want to get a picture of this spot for yourself, you’ll need to trek 5.5 miles down a very bumpy dirt road.
CRYSTAL MILL (cont.)

Some people will drive this with a 4×4 vehicle, though most seem to hike it.
Picketwire Canyon Dinosaur Tracks - OutThere Colorado

4. HIKE TO DINOSAUR TRACKS


PURGATOIRE RIVER TRACK SITE, PICKET WIRE CANYONLANDS

You’re going to need to be in shape for this one. The Colorado hike is over 10 miles round trip, but so worth it.
Comanche National Grasslands - cm195902 - OutThere Colorado
PICKET WIRE CANYONLANDS, COMANCHE NATIONAL GRASSLANDS (cont.)

Photo credit: cm195902
Fall Hike - OutThere Colorado

3. HIKE TO AN AIRCRAFT CRASH SITE


ALMAGRE MOUNTAIN

Several planes have crashed in Colorado over the years because of the state’s unpredictable weather and tricky mountains to navigate. Many of these crash sites are in places so remote that removal of debris is too difficult, thus the metal remains of the planes have stayed where they fell. One crash site that’s relatively easy to find is the UH-1 Huey Helicopter crash site near Colorado Springs. To find it, you’ll head to the northern bump of Almagre Peak.
Aircraft Crash Sites - OutThere Colorado
ALMAGRE MOUNTAIN (cont.)

If you’re seeking out this wreck, or any other aircraft crash site, we recommend that you get a detailed map and do your own research on the exact route, meticulously noting the coordinates of where you’re headed.

Photo Credit: Carol Lawrence.
Len Wallace Standing Beside Propeller Of Plane Crash Site - OutThere Colorado
ALMAGRE MOUNTAIN (cont.)

As most crash sites are very remote, finding them can be dangerous. Additionally, treat these crash sites with respect and always leave no trace.

Photo Credit: Carol Lawrence.
Castlewood Dam (large) - ezweave - OutThere Colorado

2. HIKE TO THE DAM THAT FLOODED DENVER


CASTLEWOOD DAM

Remember that one time Denver was buried under four feet of standing water? Probably not…it happened in 1933. However, if you head over to Castlewood Canyon State Park, you’ll be able to see the remains of the dam that broke and caused it all.

Photo Credit: ezweave.
Castlewood Dam - waitscm - OutThere Colorado
CASTLEWOOD DAM (cont.)

To find the Castlewood Canyon Dam, you’ll want to enter the park through the western entrance. From there, it’s an easy 0.3 mile hike.

Photo Credit: waitscm.

1. HIKE TO CASTLE RUINS


RUINS OF FALCON CASTLE

Nestled on Mount Falcon near Morrison, you’ll find the remains of a castle that once stood three-stories tall. Inhabited by John Brisbane Walker in the early 1900s, the structure fell into ruin after a strike of lightning hit it in 1918. If you’re looking to hunt this one down, you’ll need to find the Mount Falcon Trail, approximately 2.3 miles long.
Photo Credit: Heather Biggers (Reader Submission; @explorerforlife16).
Rattlesnake Canyon - Arches Trail - jimmy thomas - flickr

BONUS: HIKE TO SOME ARCHES


THE RATTLESNAKE ARCHES

While the hike is 14 miles, you’ll never forget seeing these massive sandstone arches. There are 3 main arches, one of which rises 120 feet off the ground. The arches are located in Black Ridge Canyons Wilderness as part of McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area.
Photo credit: jimmy thomas (Flickr)

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