Ruby Gulch

Ruby Gulch - Colorado Hiking
Distance5.04 mi
Elevation Gain1,499 ft
My Time2 hr 43 min
DifficultyModerate
Closest TownEmpire
Food NearbyDairy King

Ruby Gulch

The Ruby Gulch trail is a lessor used hike near Berthoud Pass that has some amazing views and plenty of stream crossings. The hike starts off a bit challenging though but the struggle is worth it. I almost didn’t post this hike because it wasn’t very busy and I kind of wanted to keep it to myself but it really show all that Colorado hiking has to offer!

Getting Started

The Ruby Gulch trail was a little hard to find. Google sent two of us to two different places to find the trailhead. We ended up at down the dirt Woods Creek Road directly across from the big white dome building. There is a small, half circle turn in that you can park at with an informational sign explaining what is around in the URAD valley.

After that you have to find the actual trail. For that you will need to walk to where Woods Creek splits and a steep service road is on the left and the road continues to the right. Take the service road and you have found the trail.

The dirt road leading to the trailhead of the Ruby Gulch Trail.  It is kind of hard to find as nothing is really marked in the area.
The road leading to the trailhead. Ruby Gulch – Colorado Hiking ©Fatmanlittletrail.com

The Service Road

The service road to start this hike is a beast. It lasts for about eight-tenths of a mile with a consistent grade of 15-20%. And it just goes straight up for the most part to the tune of over 500 feet of elevation gain in that first little stretch. The road is rutted and rocky and surrounded by tall trees. Here is a view looking back down the road so you can get a bit of a feel for the elevation.

A look back down the steep dirt road that is surrounded by green pine trees. One of the best parts about Colorado hiking is the Mountains that are always in the distance.
Looking back down the service road to see how steep it was. Ruby Gulch – Colorado Hiking ©Fatmanlittletrail.com

There is a stream and waterfall that you can hear but not really see as you make your way up this grind.

The Water

As you leave the road the trail becomes less apparent and a little harder to follow. When it is there it is a narrow dirt path. Other times it is overgrown, a sign that this trail doesn’t get used as much as some. once you have left the road the fun starts.

Towards the beginning of July when I went on this hike there were around a dozen stream crossings. Most of them were about shin deep. I know because I slipped off of some logs I was trying to cross them with and fell in…a couple of times. There are also some amazing wildflowers sprouting up and more as you get higher.

This was pretty typical of the water that you would be crossing with some flowers to boot!

The trail from the service road to the first opening is mostly in the woods with several of these crossings. It lasts for about a half mile and isn’t as consistently steep as service road. There are even sections in the single digit grade!

The First Clearing

Around the 1.3 mile mark of the hike you will come to your first real opening from the trees where you can see why you are doing this.

Small green bushes in the foreground with a scattering of pine trees and then a rocky peak with snow on one side at the first clearing of the Ruby Gulch trail.  The mountains still having snow in July is a staple of Colorado Hiking.
The view of the mountains from the first clearing. Ruby Gulch – Colorado Hiking ©Fatmanlittletrail.com

The trail opens up and you leave the trees and this is your view. I believe this peak is the 13,646 foot Bards Peak. There are actually several 13ers that you will see later in the hike as well. This clearing was one of those moments when I paused and had to take it all for a minute.

After this relatively short clearing it is back to the woods and some more water crossings until you come to the last hill.

The Last Hill

The final push of this hike is simply one of the most beautiful places I have been but it felt more back country than a trail. The trail disappears the higher you go and you kind of have to find your own way up the hill.

The view of the bowl from the top of the last hill.  The rock walls completely surround the top of the gulch to form a bowl like shape.
The view of the bowl from the top of the last hill. Ruby Gulch – Colorado Hiking ©Fatmanlittletrail.com

To get to the top of the hill there is a stream that we followed. We went all the way to the top but several people just found nice spots around the water to take in the views.

The top that we found was around 11,800 feet of elevation and the views were spectacular.

The end really isn’t a peak but more of finding a spot to enjoy the views. I spent more time up here than usual because it was just such an impressive sight to see into the bowl that way.

Video of the Ruby Gulch trail

I am trying to do a bit more video of the hikes and I have a couple for you on the Ruby Gulch hike. The first one is a shorter narrative version of the hike.

This next one is a time lapsed version that I like to call my Hikers Edit. It is uncut and just a time lapse of me taking the hike. If you enjoyed these videos, please subscribe to my YouTube channel. It is free and will give you the latest updates anytime I post a video.

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 5.04 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1,499 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 11,807 feet. I was also moving for a total of 2 hours and 43 minutes.

Effort

The Ruby Gulch hike was sort of a typical Colorado hike. It was steep to begin and then flattened out a bit getting a bit steep again at the end. This was one of those hikes that required me to stop and catch my breath several times, especially at the beginning. Definitely not a walk in the park but worth it at the end.

Terrain

The trail starts as a steep walk up a service road. The road is wide and fairly easy to navigate other than the grade. As you continue up the mountain the road turns into a narrow path that can get lost. As this isn’t a heavily traveled hike it, the trail will actually dissapear completely at times. There is also a lot of stream crossings. In Mid-June when I went there was about a dozen times of crossing shin deep water. I would strongly suggest waterproof boots or shoes.

Access

The Ruby Gulch trail is a little hard to find. From US 40 take Henderson Mine Rd/Jones Pass Rd. You will then turn onto Woods Creek road which is a dirt road that is fairly well maintained. There is a small parking area with a sign for the URAD valley with room for about 8 cars. There are no restroom facilities at the trailhead. The trailhead is down the road and up the service road on the left.

*One note – there was a sign on the service road saying that the area is a heavy avalanche area so I do not recommend this hike when snow is around. Hike safely.

Wrapping up Ruby Gulch

What a beautiful hike. I think the time of year, July 4th, was a contributing factor to how nice it was. Everything was green and the water was flowing really well. The mountains still had a bit of snow but not enough to hide the green on them. All and all a wonderful hike.

Now the disclaimers. The start of this hike is tough with the elevation. Also, there were signs up warning about extreme avalanche danger in the area so this is probably best as a summer hike.

I have added this hike and all of my hikes to my interactive map page that you can find here. If you have a suggestion or comment you can email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com or follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!

4 thoughts on “Ruby Gulch”

  1. Bewildered Brown Eyes

    This looks like an amazing hike. Thank you for sharing it! I can see why you’d want to keep it to yourselves!

  2. Really was a beautiful hike, and you know I always like when you have pictures of the wildflowers up there.

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