I was expecting more from this hike and maybe the time of year had a little to do with that. The meadows were dull with color but the aspens were changing which were beautiful. It is a long hike but not extremely hard. Very quiet and no wildlife sightings throughout the trip. Water volume of the falls was good, I'd enjoy seeing it in the spring
Great views and amazing flowers. My son and I hiked back about three miles before the clouds (and thunder) started rolling in. It's mostly downhill, so prepare for the uphill trek back to the microwave station. It's a quad burner back up for sure....But well worth it.
I liked it. Did not love it. Always windy on crest trails. No goal. Just out till tired and back. Trail was easy on feet but working at above 11,000 makes everything more difficult. Lovely flowers and peaceful deer. High alpine meadows see just right for a bear.
Lobo trail takes you to the CDT which id the cream. Great terrain, endless mind blowing views, the definition of a high alpine trail. Colorado in general has some of greatest terrain for riding and hiking but SW Colorado is pretty much the center of the universe and this portion of the CDT proves that. Starting at 11,700 flat landers beware. Be safe in the monsoon months and start early.
This trail is actually closer to Pagosa Springs, Colorado and is easily accessible from US Hwy 160 in the summer months. Headed East from Pagosa Springs on US 160, travel up to Wolf Creek Pass and just past the USFS marker for the Continental Divide turn to the left on USFS Road 402. Proceed to the top, enjoy Lobo Overlook and then park by the microwave station to access the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) on the north side of the microwave station. There is a log book station at the trail head and it is best that you sign in if your hoofing alone. The elevation at the microwave tower is 11,750 so be prepared. I hiked about four miles in and then back. The CDT is well worn and an easy to moderate hike if your acclimated to the altitude. You also need to watch for horseback riders on some of the steeper slopes. The trail can be narrow in places and you'll need to find a place to let them by.
I hiked out the foot trail from wheeler monument September of 2013. It was s fairly quick jaunt because it was mostly a decent from higher elevation. Beautiful hike along open fields, pine forests and creek valleys. There was a decent amount of mud on the trail even though there were no heavy rains in the recent past.
We did this loop on 07/21/2012 and it was tons of fun. We rented a Polaris Razor and had no problems navigating the roads. However, there are parts of the 4x4 Bachelor Loop that are VERY rocky and steep and are difficult to navigate. Once you're in Creede, stop by the Forest Service to pick up their information sheets on the Bachelor Loop. There is also a map on the back of the sheets which is what we used to navigate our trip. Once you see the map, this review will make a lot more sense.
IN A CAR or NON 4x4 VEHICLE - Takes about 1-3 hours / total miles 17 miles
If you're in a car or non-4x4 vehicle the Bachelor Loop Historic Tour is really fun. All of the mines are well marked and the Forest Service Information Center on Main Street has a lot of information and maps. Don't leave without this information or the map, as it will really come in handy on your trip and will be 'tour guide' of the mines and local information. The Loop by car or in a non-4x4 vehicle is marked in a thick, solid black line on the map. The numbers in the circles correspond to the Mine marker. Each Mine is marked and there is information on each mine in the information sheets from the Forest Service. And, the info sheets describe the terrain and conditions of the road.
IN A 4x4 VEHICLE - 4.5 hours (we stopped for photos, bathroom, etc)
If you're a 4x4 enthusiast, the 4x4 routes are a lot of fun with amazing views. Just like in a non-4x4 vehicle, stop by the Forest Service Information Center on Main Street to pick up their Bachelor Loop information sheets and for the map on the back. You WILL need the map, AND the information sheets describe the terrain of the roads.
THE ROUTE WE TOOK - We started from the Mine Museum and headed toward Mine #1, north on 502. This is not a 4x4 road, but it is narrow and rocky in parts. A few miles up on 502 you will see a rocky road, off to the right, that has a fairly steep incline. This road is called Phoenix Park Road (502-1A) and you must have a rugged 4x4 to navigate it. The Forest Service rates this as "More Difficult", so use your best judgement before heading up this road. If you're up for the challenge, it is about 2.2 miles long and dead-ends at an old abandoned miner's cabin. You can't take your vehicle any further, but you can hike up (.3 miles) to a waterfall. The views are beautiful.
After seeing the waterfall, we headed back down Phoenix Park Road, got back onto 502 and continued north to the 4x4 road. This will take you to 503 between Mines 6 & 7. We continued north on 503 toward Mine #8. Once we reached Mine #8, we took a sharp left/south toward Mine #9 on 504. There is also a snowcat/snowplow vehicle parked at this intersection, so you have a landmark. (The reason we took this route instead of continuing north on 503 toward Mine #10 is because just above Mine #10 on the 4x4 road, is an extremely steep portion of road. Unless you're an experience ATV/4x4 rider, I would not recommend going 'up' this incline. It was a lot easier going down). We continued south on 504 until we reached the sign for "Mine #13 / 4x4 Road / 505." We took this road which will take you up to the Continental Divide. The views are spectacular! I believe you will reach close to 12,000 feet so bring rain gear and a jacket, as it gets a lot cooler up there. As you're looking at the map, 505 loops toward the east and then back south. Be aware that if you take this route 'clockwise' (like we did), just past the peak at the Continental Divide, but before Mine #10, the descend gets very difficult. It's very rocky and the last descent is the toughest. Take it slow and let your 4x4 do what it was built to do. Once you're down the steep incline, you will see the Equity Mine (#10) on your left and you will reconnect to the main part of the tour on the road.
It was so much fun and we will definitely do it again!
Wheeler Geologic Monument - Creede Colorado
Wheeler Geologic Monument is a natural formation of rocks and volcanic ash.
To reach the trailhead, drive about 7 miles southeast of Creede on Colorado 149, then turn left on Pool Table Road, #600 and proceed about 10 miles to Hanson's Mill. The two-wheel drive road ends here.
The 4WD road to Wheeler leaves from Hanson's Mill. It travels almost 14 miles. Expect close to 8 hours of driving time and plan 10 to allow for some exploring.
The road is slow-going over a rough, roundabout and rutted route. Take advantage of that to enjoy the spectacular scenery. Near its end, it is narrow and twisting through the trees. In the slippery ruts, maneuvering is a challenge. The road is impassable when wet and closed to vehicles in the spring. It typically opens in mid to late June, as early as Memorial Day in an exceptionally dry year.
From Hanson's Mill, the four-wheel drive road is well-signed and marked with white arrows. All four-wheel drive travel is restricted to the marked roads only, with the exception that you may drive off the road for up to 300 feet to gain access to suitable undeveloped campsites along the route. You should stop by any Forest Service Office and obtain a Travel Map if you have questions concerning travel restrictions.
The road climbs from Hanson's Mill through spruce/fir for 0.4 mile to a road junction. The left fork is not the four-wheel drive route to Wheeler but can be driven for a little over 1 mile where it dead-ends just before East Bellows Creek. From this point, the route continues as a trail (foot, horse, and trailbike only) for 5.7 miles to the Wheeler Geologic Area. This trail is part of the old Alder Creek Stock Driveway, which today is Trail #790. There is limited parking for 3 to 4 vehicles at the end of this spur road. If you prefer hiking, and are in good physical condition, you can probably walk to Wheeler faster than driving a four-wheel drive vehicle the 14 miles to Wheeler via the jeep road. If you plan to drive into Wheeler, however, go straight at the road junction rather than following this left fork of the road. The junction is well-signed.
From this junction, the Pool Table Road#600 travels northeast, gently climbing 360 feet in elevation over the next 3.9 miles. The first 3 miles of this section of road continue through spruce/fir and then break into the open to follow the treeline on the right until the road swings northwest and crosses East Bellows Creek.
From this point to within 1.5 miles of its end, the road traverses primarily through open sub-alpine country. Just up the hill from the East Bellows Creek crossing, the road turns northwest and is relatively level for the next 2.6 miles, except where the road crosses Trujillo Creek and the Canyon Fernandez drainage. From the Canyon Fernandez drainage, the road drops about 540 feet over the next 2.5 miles to the Canyon Nieve drainage. This portion of road swings from a southwest direction to northwest. The road then continues to the west, climbs 460 feet over the next 1.2 miles, and then levels out for approximately 1.6 miles to where Trail #790 joins the road.
The next mile of road/trail drops 360 feet in elevation through spruce/fir trees. This section is narrow and twists its way through the trees. The lower part of this section (which is only about 3/4 mile from the end of the road) is often muddy and rutted, making maneuverability difficult because of the tight squeeze through the trees. The slippery rutted conditions usually force vehicle wheels to follow the existing ruts. This section requires some driving skills to successfully negotiate when wet. Larger vehicles have an even more difficult time through this section.
The final half-mile of road breaks back into a small park and dead-ends at the fence marking the end of the road and the boundary of the Geologic Area. This is as far as motor vehicles are allowed. From this point a foot and/or horse trail continues approximately 0.6 mile on to the formations.
Even though the trip is rough and slow, the subalpine scenery is beautiful and more than makes up for the trip. If lucky, elk and deer may be seen on occasion. Coyotes are not uncommon. Gray jays ("Camp Robbers") are plentiful, especially at the end of the road near Wheeler. If you have patience, you can usually have these friendly birds eat out of your hand.