Dome Rock Trail is a 11.2 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Divide, CO that features beautiful wild flowers and is rated as difficult. The trail is primarily used for hiking, walking, nature trips, birding, and horses and is accessible from March until October. Horses are also able to use this trail.
Rising 800 ft above the 4 Mile Creek valley floor, Dome Rock is the quintessential Colorado destination. Adjacent to Meuller State Park, just south of Divide and north of Cripple Creek, you can hike here from mid-July to the end of November. This area is restricted because it is one of the few areas where Big Horn Sheep drop and nurture their lambs. You can travel this area on foot (with or without snowshoes, depending on the weather) or on horseback. No mountain bikes and no DOGS. If you like variety, you'll find it on this hike: wild flowers (in late July/early August), Aspen forests, beaver ponds, massive granite rock formations, views of the central Rocky Mountains, quiet streams and rushing creeks. Because it takes 5-6 hours to complete the 11 mile loop (depending on how often you stop for pictures, or how much exploring you do along the way), you may have the opportunity to experience the delight of Colorado blue skies and the drama of roiling clouds in one glorious day. I recommend that for your first trip, you allow plenty of time. I also recommend you begin your loop from the south parking lot trailhead. Most of the UP is on the way out to the dome, especially if you take the side trail up to the lookout via the Twisted Pine Nature Trail. If you don't want to do the loop, you can begin from the north parking lot, hiking out and back. This would shorten the hike by about a mile and reduce the amount of climbing involved (but it will also reduce your ability to see the panorama of the central Rockies). For this out and back hike, cross the bridge and then stay on the north side of 4 Mile Creek (unless you're on horse back; horses must use the stream crossings and the trail engineered for them). You'll note in the Points of Interest that I have marked the stream crossing locations as X-1, X-2, etc., numbering them from the dome back toward the trailhead. There are no bridges. So if you don't want to get your feet wet, watch for the small trails leading off into the brush along the creek. These will keep you on the north and west side of the creek all the way out to the dome, or all the way back from the dome. If do the loop, you must cross the creek just west of the dome. Again, no bridge here; take off your shoes and wade across - the bottom is sandy.
I love this trail. horseback it is hard , switch backs , hairpin turns .... Deadfall your horse will have to be ok jumping or trudging through it. It is my favorite ride but again it is intense!!!!! 10-13 water crossings some deep some very shallow. You will see hiker At the start of the trail and at the end . Hikers can not make it all the way in where the horses are . So in the middle of the ride it will be pretty quiet. A valley of aspen trees is where we stop and eat lunch always same spot let the horses rest and I believe that is "dome rock" we stop at .
Bring waterproof shoes and if doing loop, go clockwise
This was a great training hike for a longer backpacking trip I'm doing next month. It had a variety of views, great rock formations, small waterfalls, wild flowers, pine, and aspen forest habitats, and of course plenty of stream crossings- don't forget your water shoes!
I did the whole loop counterclockwise. It is a beautiful hike with plenty of creek crossings. Expect shin to knee high water. The trail access is from the upper parking lot or from the lower parking area depending on which way you would like to go. The elevation map is from a clockwise perspective (easier route). There is an incredible overlook if you wonder off trail before you reach dome rock (clockwise) or after you pass dome rock (counter clockwise). Saw an eagle.
Very scenic. Little elevation gain but a beautiful area and the Dome is spectacular.
One of the prettiest hikes I've been on. Did it clockwise on a very sunny morning. After an extended, but moderate, uphill climb thru several groves of aspen, there was a mile or two of bushwhacking thru the undergrowth to get down to the valley floor. Appeared that this portion of the trail was not heavily used. Hard to keep to the trail in places but simply followed the stream down to the bottom without too much difficulty. Suggest waterproof boots and either waterproof pants or gaiters - there was lots of dew on the foliage which resulted in a good soaking as I passed. Once on the valley floor it was smooth sailing all the way around the rock and back around to the trailhead. The fordings of Four Mile Creek were really no big deal. Had waterproof boots and just waded across.
Gradients were pretty moderate except for that one stretch heading down into the valley - would prefer not to do it in the other direction.
Saw a few critters - elk, deer, rabbits, but no sheep.
Worth doing again and again. Must be spectacular in October when the aspens light up.
Dome Rock was a great trail! The first half to Dome Rock was very easy and beautiful, crossing 5 streams (took shoes off for a couple then decided to walk thru with shoes) I only saw a few pepole thus far. The 2nd half after the Dome was mostly up hill and a change of scenery thru the aspens, also very beautiful. I started at 130pm, not so smart and got caught in a storm with very heavy rain, very heavy lightning and thunder. I went off trail and hunkered down waiting for the storm to pass for 30 min sitting in pine needles with rain Jacket and tarp over legs. Was an experience not to be repeated. Go early to avoid the colorado late afternoon storms. It took me 4.5 hours with t-storm included. Enjoy! FYI - do the whole loop starting at the south entrance and make sure you bring your camelback :)
For those who want to do the entire loop. Do a clockwise loop starting at the south parking lot. There will be One real creek crossing at the west end that will require shoe/boot & socks removal, rolling up the pants and wading. :-) Once you're heading back east - when you see a creek crossing, look to your left for faint trails that will take you parallel to the creek but keep you on the north bank. Sometimes you'll be going through willows (closer to the west end), but persevere and you won't have to remove your footware again.
This is possibly the best 10 mile hike within close range of Colorado Springs. And there are wild raspberries to be had. Enjoy!
Lots of creek crossings, recommend not doing the loop and just doing an out and back from the southern parking lot. Going from the northern parking lot out to Dome Rock is harder and less visually rewarding than just going south. Be advised, if you do go south and out and back you will have to cross around 10 creeks on your way out and back.
All that being said, this is probably the prettiest hike I've done in Colorado yet. The valley where Dome Rock is located is gorgeous.
I did the loop. Kicked my butt, well worth it great views, lots of water crossings
great nearby hike. I did the 10.5 loop. 6 river crossing all requiring me to take off boots. vrry few people on asummer weekend.
This is one of the prettiest moderate hikes I've done in Colorado. (I've lived here 26 years, have backpacked, rock climbed, and climbed a bunch of 14'ers.) If you have out of state company this time of year - this is the place to bring them.
As FullerMedia said - wear long pants as it can get brushy. Definitely do the loop clockwise if you're planning on doing the whole loop. We parked in the north lot - then headed south. We only needed to do one creek crossing at the west end of the loop. The trails to avoid the creek crossings as you're headed back east along the north side of the loop were easy to find - and rise on the side of the hill enough to give you good views of the beaver ponds.
We completed the loop in 5 1/2 hours. That was with numerous stops for photos and a lunch break.
This was our first real hike in the Rockies, and it was awesome, except for when we got lost. (Wait, that was awesome too.). We did the entire look in a clockwise direction, which means we started out with a 2-3 mile steep ascent and ended with a 2-3 mile "less steep" ascent. I think clockwise is the right way to do it.
As others have said here, at points, the trail is difficult to follow. There is water to cross (less than knee deep after a few days of rain). Lots of rough up and down terrain. But the views are worth it.
We'll be back to do the loop again.
Jodi L R.
My husband and I decided it was time to get out and do this local hike. We had confused ourselves on which was the best way to start but after doing the entire loop the wrong way realized we goofed! First of all you need to decide if you A) want to do the out and back hike just to see the Dome or B) want to do the entire loop and see all there is to offer. Your answer to this question will depend on which trail head to begin your hike from.
If you choose A) The Out and Back hike start with the North Trail head (Park in the parking area on the right and start at that trail head)
If you choose B) The loop start your hike at the South Trail head (Park in the parking area straight ahead and begin at that trail head)
Another hint for the loop hike is you should be going in a CLOCKWISE fashion not counter clockwise. Also for those of you who start at the out and back trail and change your mind to do the loop don't do it today! Come back a different day and start at the correct trail head.
We made memories on this hike for sure! No matter which option you choose be sure to bring PLENTY OF WATER!! We also didn't enjoy the smell the horses left behind and the sandy trail made it even more difficult to do the last part of the loop in the wrong direction.
We completed the loop in about 6 1/2 hours a total of 11 miles.
Suggestion; Bring a Horse!
I will rate this as Moderate since the trail outlined here is the out and back. Otherwise it was Demanding for the Loop in the wrong direction!
Went to Dome Rock with the intention of scouting game but ended walking the entire loop. I strarted on the north part (Dome Rock Trail) of loop...easy. After getting to Dome Rock heading back east on the southern loop( Spring Creek Trail) it was ALL Uphill to about 9600 (on my GPS). Like stated before I would reccommend going counter clockwise (Willow Creek then Spring Creek trail ) first as more gradual....got caught in one of those Colorado Thunderstorms w/ hail.....I knew I should have taken my rain jacket......well took over 5 hrs and smoked me (50yrs w/ bad knees).
We hiked the trail in reverse order. I can understand why if you had to do this portion of the hike at the end, you would not make it. We found the trail to be beautiful. The Aspen groves were wonderful. There are raspberry bushes everywhere. My only negative comment is that the trails are poorly marked. As a result we made several wrong turns and had to back track. You will want to bring lots of water and be ready to work through some water.
My fianc and I did this during the summer of 2011. If you start in the lower parking lot the hike starts off beautiful. We got to dome rock and decided to eat lunch (3pm). We had no idea of what to expect for the second half. The last part is pretty much a never ending up, level out, up, level out trip for what seemed like forever. Finally we hit the incline down as the sun started to fall. It became
Super cold and completely dark. We ended up getting to the car around 930-10pm exhausted, cold and scared that something might eat us. IT WAS AMAZING. This was the first time we had done an all day hike together and it really allowed us to support and push each other. I will do this hike again but start out earlier in the day. The trail has some amazing views. Be sure to pack for the trip. We had way to much gear for this trip and this slowed us way down and got us tired a lot quicker than we needed. Being good boots, a camelbak, food and possibly a light jacket and flashlight if you start out any later than 12pm as you will probably get back after dark
Careful! My husband and I brought our bikes up in July and ended up biking in Meuller instead of the Dome Rock Trail.... It is now closed to both bikes and dogs.