|Elevation Gain||1,296 ft|
|My Time||3 hr 53 min|
This was my first time Mueller State Park in the Pikes Peak area and I was really impressed. If you like a combination of meadow’s, forest’s all with a mountain view this is the place for you. The only down side is that pets are not allowed on the trails. You know it is good when this is the view from the visitor center.
I asked the park ranger for a good long hike in the 10 mile range and she suggested the 18/17 loop. The trailhead for Trail 18 is located at the Elk Meadow parking lot just a bit down the road from the visitor center.
Trail 18 starts by heading down a hill while looking directly at the backside of the Pike’s Peak area. The view of the mountain stays with you for most of the hike like the north star clinging to the night sky. 18 is about a 50/50 of forested trail and open meadow space. On this November day the forested sections were covered in snow and it was quite pretty.
The trail continues with this mix of forest (more towards the beginning) and meadow (towards the end) for 2.5 miles. Most of the path is downhill with a couple of small hills to get up but nothing too challenging.
At the 2.5 mile mark you will come to the junction with Trail 17. I took 17 counter-clockwise but a clockwise trip may spread out some of the elevation gain and make it a touch easier.
Trail 17 starts with a long stretch of beautiful open meadow. The trail is a wide, well groomed service road that is really easy to navigate. 17 will take you on a long sweeping loop around the park edges. One downside is that for the first mile you are close to the road and get a bit of traffic noise but the views of the meadow are hard to beat.
After the mile of heading north near the road the trail will turn toward the west near a home.
About 7/10 of a mile once you make the turn to the west you will come to Cheesman Ranch. The ranch is a series of old buildings that are in really good shape that you can check out. I really wish there was an info placard here. I couldn’t find too much info in the internet but the buildings are pretty cool.
After the ranch you will continue on the trail to the west and again enter a more wooded section. This is where you will find the biggest elevation gain on the trail.
The hill to climb on the northwest section of this loop have a total incline of about 400 feet in just over a mile with inclines in the low 20% grade. There is a bit of flat spot in the middle of two inclines here as well so know that you have a ways to go when it flattens out.
Once you have made it to the top of this hill you will start your way back towards center of the park on trail 17. Here there are a bunch of info placards giving some information about the animals in the surrounding area.
If you have followed my counter clockwise path you will come to a bench at the top of the large meadow at the 7.5 mile mark. This was a really nice spot as you are looking directly at the enormity of the meadow with Pike’s Peak range in the distance.
Once you get through this large meadow you will once again meet up with Trail 18. You have the option of taking Trail 18 back to the Elk Meadow parking lot or you can use trail’s 19 and 22 to get back a little quicker.
Trail 19 takes toward the Peak view parking area but if you jump onto Trail 22 it will take you down to Peak View Pond. It was frozen while I was there but still kind of cool.
Continuing on Trail 22 will take you on a narrow path that switchbacks through the woods and climbs the hill back to meet up with trail 18 close to the parking lot. And I would be remiss not to include a picture from the parking lot and one last look at the mountains rising over the park.
Distance and Elevation
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 10.24 miles and had a total elevation gain of over 1,296 feet including undulations. The high point was actually in the parking area at 9,711 feet. The trail drops down from the Elk Meadow parking and almost reaches back to the original height but not quite. I was also moving for a total of 3 hours and 53 minutes.
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This wasn’t the most challenging of hikes other than the bitter cold and wind. There are a couple of sections of steep elevation gain but mostly it is gentle gains over long distances. I think it would have been a little easier if I went clockwise around trail 17 instead. Here is the step count from my Fitbit.
This was one seriously well manicured park. The trails, which I assumed doubled as fire roads were mostly about 8 feet wide and free of debris. I think I had to step over 1 tree that was downed the whole time. The roots and rocks were also very minimal. On this November day the trail was covered in about an inch of snow in the forested sections.
Mueller State Park has parking and bathrooms at the visitor center. There are several smaller parking area’s at the different trailheads that are around the park. There is a decent amount of parking but it fills up pretty quick. There is a $9 fee per vehicle to enter the park or you can buy a season State Park pass. Mueller is located in Teller county at 21045 CO-67, Divide, CO 80814.
For my first time in Mueller State park I was really impressed. The trails are mostly wide and very well manicured and easy to follow. The views are best described as grand. There was not a ton of individual features of the park that drew me in but the vastness of the land and rolling hills was impressive.
There also wasn’t too much as far as inclines making it feel more like a nice walk in a large park than a super strenuous work out. If I was a runner I might even think of running this park as the trails are in such great shape. Overall this was an incredibly enjoyable hike.
The park also has several cabins and camping options for those of you looking for a place to get away. Here is a link to some more information on that. Also, as a heads up, there are no pets allowed on the trails which I know will discourage a few of the dog owners out there.
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