DISTANCE
2.8 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2,283 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

dogs on leash

birding

hiking

nature trips

walking

views

historic site

hiking
3 months ago

A friend and I did tackled this hike a couple days ago. We are both physically fit, very experienced, and hike trails described as "difficult/strenuous" on a regular basis. We read many reviews about this trail and decided we were ready. Despite all our experience and preparations, this trail really kicked our butts.
A significant portion of the trail is along the left side of the very steep canyon and was covered in slippery fallen oak leaves. Later in the year, this may not be an issue. There are several areas where you need to cross incredibly narrow (barely 12 inches wide) path that drops down into the creek bed and the rocks. Would not be a pleasant fall. When you reach the point where you cross to the right side and begin your vertical ascent to the actual ruins, the ground is covered in scree, which makes every step hazardous. Keep low to the ground, go slowly, make sure your each foot is secure before taking another step. If you start to slide, you could end up sliding right off the trail and down the canyon. Trekking poles and gloves would be helpful. There is a rope previous hikers have tied to help in one portion.
The ruins, of course, are fabulous. Too bad thoughtless dimwits have lit campires inside, but we spent about an hour taking pictures, admiring the ruins and the views before the trek back down. The journey down is a nightmare, fighting gravity on the narrow, ridiculously steep trail where you cannot get your footing. In many parts, we ended up squatting on our hiking boots, and going for a controlled slide, relying on our trekking poles to steer/stop us before sliding over the edge.
Our bodies were aching, and we questioned our sanity, but we were glad to have checked this amazing hike off our list. We both agreed a significant amount of time would need to pass so we could forget how dangerous some parts were before we ever came back.
**ONLY for the very fit, advanced hiker! No joke. The risks are very real. No cell or gps, and not a single person the entire 20 mile drive (on dirt road, which took a good hour) to the trailhead or on the trail. If you are injured... you are really on your own. And being carried out, depending on where you are hurt, may not be possible.
TIPS: Bring trekking poles, gloves, GOOD HIKING BOOTS, and dress in layers. Do not attempt if you see any signs of snow or ice, or if water levels along cherry creek road are high or strong. Enjoy and appreciate the beauty, but also be smart and be safe!