Stout Creek is a 8.2 mile out and back trail located near Howard, CO and is only recommended for very experienced adventurers. The trail is primarily used for hiking and is accessible from June until September.
OK... I do not have much experience with backpacking and was uncertain whether I could do this with my 13 year old son when we were invited for an overnight. I am so greatful that they (other experienced backpacker) asked and we accepted. The trial was hard, but very rewarding when we reached the top. We were able to get there in about 3 hours and made it back down in about 2 hours the next day after hiking to the upper lakes. The campsite at the top were great. Word of caution: weather is unpredictable... Weather called for sun and clear skies and we got about 3 hours of heavy rain and 50 mph winds. Plan, dress, pack appropriately. Highly recommended.
We hiked to the lake in 4 hours. The trail disappears in a couple of spots about half way up due to the numerous trees that blew down over the winter. We had to bush whack our way around the biggest blow down to the north and west then re-intersect the trail. Once we accomplished this the trail was reasonably unobstructed the remainder of the way with the occasional blockage from a downed tree. On the descent we stayed on the trail rather than retrace our ascent path around the blow down which turned out to be a mistake. This way led us into the heart of the blow down and made the rediscovery of the trail much harder and longer. We made the descent back to the Kerr Gulch Trail head in 3.5 hours. It turned out to be a very arduous but rewarding hike with great views, grouse and turkey sightings, and an afternoon escape from the 100 deg. heat.
This trail is beautiful. It is worth it in every way. However, it is not for the faint of heart. This trail really beat me up.
I was able to manage over two miles on the trail (one way) until I completely lost its path due to fallen trees and overgrowth. I did find a few places where people had started to make secondary and tertiary paths around troubled spots, but after nearly a quarter mile of hunting and scrambling around, I gave up and went back down. I do know that extreme winds in the area have caused many more fallen trees in the last few months.
As far as the "Strenuous" rating for this trail, I agree. It is severe uphill grade with little mitigation. I have heard good things about the lakes at the end of this trail so I wanted to check them out. My 3-star rating is only because I couldn't continue on the trail. There were a couple of decent views on the way up (the part I was able to complete), and at 1.5 miles you cross the creek which is nice. It took me exactly two hours to go 4.2 miles up and down this trail. I will give this trail another try at another time. If you're feeling adventurous, by all means, do it!