Herman Gulch

Distance7.3 mi
Elevation1800 feet
My Time3 hr 40 min
DifficultyHard
Closest townGeorgetown
Food NearbyCabin Creek

I have created a monster. After the Ben Tyler trail that kicked me in the rather large behind last week, it was time to try my luck at yet another higher elevation hike. Today the FMLT team made it up to Herman Gulch which just off of I-70 past Georgetown but before the Eisenhower Tunnel in the Arapaho National Forest. This hike started at over 10,000 feet in elevation which was the highest elevation for me to start at. It also had a few distinct sections so I will break it down in that way.

The Beginning

Oops, I did it again. I tried a hike that is way to steep for me. The beginning of this hike is pretty brutal. The good news is there are only 2 sections that are really tough as apposed to the entire trail being a vertical nightmare. Right after you see the sign post splitting the Herman and Watrous trails, you will begin your ascent. The trail at this point is sandy and rocky with a lot of small loose pebbles. It also has about a 30 degree grade which is pretty steep. This ends up being about a 700 foot elevation gain in just over a half mile. When you get close to the top of the incline you will run next to a really cool melt stream.

The Middle

The middle of this trail is simply stunning. The trail flattens out for the most part with some smaller inclines. The surrounding views are absolutely breathtaking at this point though.

The view from the middle section of the Herman gulch trail.  Surrounded by evergreen trees with mountains in the distance.

There are a couple of challenges with the middle section of the trail but nothing that isn’t too easily overcome. The trail is a mix of being fully exposed mountain side and walking through the forest. The forest sections were really muddy today which caused it to be a bit more challenging to traverse. The exposed area’s are beautiful but they can get pretty hot under the sun and leave you exposed to some wind as well. During the middle section you will only gain about 600 feet of elevation over a mile and a half. So much easier than the beginning section.

The Second Incline

The second incline is challenging for a couple of reasons. First, it begins at around 11, 500 of elevation which leads to its own challenges if you are not accustomed to high elevation hikes. Second, its steep. You will have to go up around 500 feet in under a half mile. To make it a little more challenging, there were still some snowy area’s on the trail that you will have to walk on. The snow isn’t to the point of needing micro-spikes, despite me really wanting to use my new spikes. Because it was so steep I took plenty of breaks and some really nice pictures. The views were just as stunning as the middle, just higher up. Here is a panoramic:

View from about three quarters up the Herman Gulch trail.

There are also some small fields of some lovely wildflowers throughout the middle and second incline sections.

The Lake

When you reach the top the trail flattens off almost completely. You will still need to walk over some snow but in a short walk will come to the lake. The lake is great. It was still half frozen at the end of June when I was up there so nobody was trying to fish but the surrounding snow covered mountains framed the lake perfectly and it was a great place to sit and relax and enjoy.

There is a trail that heads around the lake that we tried to take but it decided against it when we saw it led to cathedral peak. Here is a bit more from the lake.

Unlike the Ben Tyler trail last week, this trail was easy to come down from. The trail in the upper and middle parts aren’t very rocky and very easy to manage. There are definitely some muddy spots that will slow you down a bit. Before the gallery, with some really nice pictures today, here are the stats from the hike.

Elevation and Distance

If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 7.3 miles and had a total elevation gain of over 1800 feet, which put the high point at just over 12,000 feet. I was also moving for a total of 3 hours and 40 minutes.

Effort

This hike was a challenging in that there were two distinct incline areas. The first is right off the bat and the second is right around the end. Both times there are pretty steep inclines in short distances which is very tiring. The middle section and the lake itself are relatively flat and are really nice walks. Here are my stats from my Fitbit.

Stats from today's hike from my fitbit. Today was a total of 20,095 steps

Terrain

The trail ends up being really muddy in spots. At the end of June, there was still snow on parts of the trail as well. In the beginning section and parts of the middle the trail is rocky and sandy.

Access

The trailhead is located on a dirt road immediately off of I-70 exit 218. There were Port-o-potties but they were closed so no facilities are available. There seemed to be a decent amount of parking for a weekday.

Wrap up

I really enjoyed this hike. There were two parts that were extremely challenging with elevation and I had to take several breaks. The middle section and the lake make the entire trip worth it to me. The middle section is not overly difficult and the views are only beaten by the views at the top. It is a higher elevation than I was used to and I think that played a bit of a part in the difficulty but overall the elevation is the most challenging part. I wouldn’t recommend this for someone just starting or unsure of their hiking skills. The elevation at altitude could become a problme.

After the hike we headed to Georgetown and ate at Cabin Creek Brewing. Just a reminder that I now have an interactive map on the site so you can see the different hikes and restaurants I have reviewed. You can see the map here.

If you have a suggestion for a hike that you would like me to try, feel free to email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com or you can follow me on the below social media platforms.

Here is one last panoramic from the top before the gallery. I highly suggest the gallery today. Some great pictures and even the Fatman makes a rare appearance.

Panoramic pictures of the top of the Herman Gulch lake and mountains.

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