Burning Bear #601

Distance8.22 mi
Elevation Gain1,407 ft
My Time3 hr 28 min
Difficulty Moderate
Closest TownBailey
Food NearbyConey Island Boardwalk

Burning Bear #601

This was an accidental find for me. After the hike I wanted had a full parking area, I took a drive on Guanella Pass and saw the parking area for Abyss Lake. I stopped thinking I was just going to enjoy the day until I saw the sign for Burning Bear #601. I sure am glad I did and enjoyed every step of this hike!

Getting Started

To get to the trail from the parking lot you actually have to walk down the road for about 200 yards to the south. There you will come to a gate and behind the gate is the sign for the trail. The gate was unlocked so I decided to give it a go.

The trail begins with a long well defined and maintained path towards the road. It runs for about a tenth of a mile before coming to a bridge that crosses a small stream and that is where the hike really begins.

The Flats

The first part of the Burning Bear Hike is really more of a really nice nature walk. The trail hugs the side of the stream and takes you through some really nice forested area. The stream meanders and alternates from running close and stretching away. With the water and the tree lined hills it gets to be some really nice views.

The flat section of the trail lasts for just a bit over a mile and a half. It alternates between these covered areas in the trees and areas that are in the middle of a field. The section in the open has a much narrower trail but views of all the beautiful surrounding hills.

A lot of the people that I saw take the trail just did this flatter section of the trail and I don’t blame them because it is really pretty. If you decide to take stop after the flats, the hike will end up being about a 3 mile roundtrip that is well worth it. P.S. Mom, maybe we can do this one when you come out because I know you are already thinking that!

The Woods and Elevation

When the trail makes a turn it begins a trek up a hill. This can get a little steep at points with elevations getting as high as 21% grade but usually maintaining the 8-10% range from here on. The trail also will be completely covered in trees from now on. With one small exception, about half way up the hill the trail flattens out and comes to a clearing for about 100 yards that is really pretty.

The trail through the woods, while steep, is very methodical. You are just climbing up a hill in the woods and a small stream is next to you for a good majority of the hike. It was such a relaxing hike for me. With the gentle trickle of the stream and the mostly complete tree cover I was kind of in a trance heading up the hill.

A couple things to mention that broke my trance. The first was the cracking forest. There was a section of tall thin aspen trees that were creaking and cracking with every gust of wind through their branches. There is nothing to snap you out of a trance like trees cracking like they are about to start falling on a hike.

The second thing that was really cool was the remains of an old log cabin deep in the woods.

I couldn’t help to think back to the people who lived here years ago. Dealing with the cold snowy winters and brutal summers in this small cabin. On the other hand, the cabin was in the middle of nowhere and next to a stream in the middle of the woods so the solitude would be complete and amazing!

Finishing up Burning Bear #601

So I never found the end of the Burning Bear trail. I stopped at the top of the hill. The top of the hill is still in the woods and covered but I knew if I headed down the other side I would eventually have to climb back up it and I had enough of going up for the day. According to the map the trail goes for another mile or two and ends up at County Road 60 where I assume there is another trailhead.

I am sure that would have been a lovely continuation of a the hike but I was done. I think the best part of the Burning Bear #601 is that you have the ability to take it as long, or short as you like! But a nice trail to spend a sunny Sunday on.

Video

I have put together a couple of videos for the Burning Bear #601 trail. This first one is a narrative version of the hike.

And this second video is a time lapse of the hike so you can get a feel of what it will be like. I call this my hikers edit. If you enjoy the videos make sure to subscribe to my YouTube channel. It is free and you will be notified when I post a new video.

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 8.22 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1,407 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 10,897 feet. I was also moving for a total of 3 hours and 28 minutes.

Effort

This section of the Burning Bear Trail starts off nice and easy. There is a long portion that has very little elevation and just walks along the stream. As you get deeper into the woods the trail does add some considerable elevation and becomes more difficult. A lot of the people I saw only took the easy first portion of the trail so the effort level can match your ability or your amount of “want to” for the day.

This trail also looks to be popular in the winter for snow shoeing and cross country skiing.

Terrain

Burning Bear is very well established trail that is easy to follow. Around the lower area’s by the stream it can get pretty muddy and people have walked around the mud to start to form their own sections of trail. There are a few trees down around the upper sections as you get deeper in the woods. Overall a nice trail and easy to follow along. I would recommend a good pair of hiking shoes.

Access

The Burning Bear #601 trail can be accessed by parking in the Abyss lot on Guanella Pass road near Grant, Colorado. Then you have to walk down the road about 200 yards and you will see a gate that marks the entrance to the trail. The parking area has room for about 20 cars but there are no restroom facilities.

Wrapping up Burning Bear #601 Trail

The Burning Bear #601 trail is a great forest service trail that has something for all skill levels. It starts with a nice flat section in the woods next to a river with occasional, and impressive, views of all the surrounding tree lined hills.

The hike does get a little bit steep so if you are just looking for a quick easy hike you may want to just do a quick out and back on the flat section. The best feature of the hike for me was the old cabin. It is always interesting to see these old structures in the middle of the woods. I love to let my imagination run wild of what life could have been living there in the past.

Overall I think this is a hike that pretty much everyone can enjoy if they measure their skill level with how far they take the 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!

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