Watrous Gulch Trail

MODERATE 62 reviews
#25 of 146 trails in

Watrous Gulch Trail is a 5.4 mile moderately trafficked loop trail located near Bakerville, Colorado that offers scenic views and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is best used from June until September. Dogs are also able to use this trail but must be kept on leash.

DISTANCE
5.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
2204 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

backpacking

hiking

skiing

trail running

views

snow

Directions from Idaho Springs, Georgetown: Travel west on I-70 to exit 218. At the stop sign turn right and then turn right again and take the frontage road east to the parking area. The trail begins by the restrooms in the parking lot. The trailhead is shared with the Herman Gulch Trail.

hiking
1 hour ago

Beautiful hike with lots of open fields of wildflowers, streams, and gorgeous Mountain View’s.

hiking
1 day ago

This beautiful trail is SIGNIFICANTLY less traveled than the sister trail - Herman’s Gulch - which shares its trail head. While this trail doesn’t have a lake, the views and wild flowers are stunning.

The trail was a bit steeper and more challenging than I was anticipating for a moderate trail, and it’s not a loop. (I can’t figure out while All Trails says it’s a loop). For the first mile you can hear the highway, but once you get deeper in it’s quite. Quite and beautiful!

2 days ago

I definitely recommend this trail way more than Herman Gulch. Barely anyone when I went on a Wednesday although there were lots of cars in the parking lot. Trail slowly disappears up top but it makes for some of the best exploring. Flowers are everywhere as well

6 days ago

Nice waterfall and creeks alongside the trail. Steep for the first bit (maybe 0.5 miles) and it levels off.

hiking
17 days ago

Great hike! Very little snow June 5th and there were lots of wildflowers, although no columbine yet. I did lose the trail and had to backtrack once or twice, but it was easier on the way down, and it would have been tough to get lost anyway. The official trail ends at the saddle between Woods Mountain and Parnassus, so I summited Woods to make it 7 miles and more like 2,800 vertical feet total. The view was totally worth it!

hiking
19 days ago

Great views and less traveled than Herman's. The trail was clear just muddy in some spots but also very rocky so be prepared for that. Definitely would recommend!

hiking
3 months ago

Awesome views, less traveled than Herman Gulch Trail which leaves from the same trailhead. Definitely need snowshoes though even with the meager snowfalls this year. Steady incline. Had to turn around about 2/3 of the way in due to deep snow and constant post-holing. Still saw some great mountain view’s but I bet they’re only more stunning the farther you ascend.

hiking
6 months ago

Awesome hike with awesome views. I was a little unprepared, however. Definitely bring sunglasses because the snow will sear your retinas as soon as you get out in the sun. Also, some trekking poles, additional traction for your boots, or both will help immensely. I went without but I did fall on my butt a few times. Again, very beautiful though. Went 12/2

8 months ago

Great hike, started around 8:30am and only ran into a couple of groups there and back. Lot was totally full by noon with lots of people and, unfortunately, lots of dog poop bags everywhere.

There was about 3-4 inches of snow near the end but the pups didn't seem to mind. Plenty of great scenary along the way.

9 months ago

Interesting hike, not sure we ever found the loop, but we got up to about 12,200 ft and the views were gorgeous. The day, 9/16, we went it was snowing when we arrived at the trailhead and extremely windy and cold at the top when we turned around. Fun! See photo above.

hiking
9 months ago

Beautiful hike and easy to get to from Denver!

hiking
10 months ago

Great hike. Out and back trail with an optional loop at end. Kind of confusing at the end with a couple different forks if you haven't been before. Fantastic views for sure, worth the uphill hike.

hiking
10 months ago

Loved this hike. The views were amazing and the trail is in great shape. Much of the elevation gain felt like in first half of hike. Trail kind of fades away at end and it appears people will explore in various directions at the end.

hiking
11 months ago

Excellent hike up Watrous as always. There are a couple of steep parts and a couple of muddy parts but the views are stunning and worth it. Get to the trailhead early - the parking lot fills up.

hiking
11 months ago

Great hike. Beautiful at the top, although a little hard to follow once it opens above the trees. Only trails Hermann Gulch because there isn't a lake, but HG is much more crowded, so do this one if you feel like ditching people.

hiking
11 months ago

great hike! difficult in some areas and the trail at the top randomly stopped so we had to hike up the side of the mountain to find it again, but great views if you make it to the very top!

hiking
11 months ago

7/3/17

https://youtu.be/wFXyUnhEkJk

Wildflowers everywhere and once in the gulch it is endless eye candy. Couple muddy spots towards the start but easy to rock hop through. Stream is flowing well, so ample water to be had. Numerous 13ers to be bagged if you are so inclined.

hiking
Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Beautiful hike. Moderate incline the entire way up. towards the end hit patches of snow. Slippery but still doable. Yaktracks would do ya justice in some areas. River is flowing strong which adds to the scenery. Once you get to the loop they're are portions of the trail under shallow water due to snow melt. Feet got wet in some areas but nothing bad. You have to cross the river a few times to remain on the trail.. one section via a downed tree & the other two I jumped. The mountain range that is to your back is incredible... keeps revealing more & more the further ya go. Picture is attached.

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Gorgeous views. Only passed 2 other hikers on the trail. Very peaceful!

Monday, February 27, 2017

great trail on a great day. perfect for snowshoe and skis in the winter. it is equipped with outhouses at the trailhead.

Sunday, October 02, 2016

Great views. Not too many other hikers. Nice creek running along side for most of the hike.

hiking
Monday, September 19, 2016

Great alternative to avoid the crowds at Herman Gulch. The first mile gets a lot of highway noise, is all incline and mostly exposed – which made for a disgruntled beginning on an unseasonably hot day. :) After the first mile the trail begins to feels much more secluded and you get short breaks between elevation gains. Gorgeous views the entire way! Trail is rather narrow and rocky in some spots. The peaks that the trail leads you to are more than tempting, can't wait to return!

snowshoeing
Friday, August 28, 2015

Great winter snowshoeing hike! Awesome views of the divide.

hiking
Monday, March 09, 2015

Great Hike. Lots of sun

hiking
Monday, July 21, 2014

Watrous Gulch Trail Part Deux..
a different time and place.

I have now gained about a thousand feet above the rock outcropping where I had my photo shoot with spooky dude and I was thrilled I placed some distance between me and the rocks before taking my next picture.. Three more small hills and the loss of one-third of a lung later and BOOM BABY!!!!! VICTORY!!!!!!!!! You can see for yourself, this was worth every scrape, cut, broken pole and even an encounter with the scariest guy on the planet. I have also included a map overview of the Watrous Trail
As you go through some of the pictures, you will see small clumps of trees that were full of deer, elk and all kinds of woodland creatures that you must be lightening quick to catch if you want to get them on film. The camera I had with me at the time was too slow and the zoom was not enough to capture all that was available for you to see on this most amazing trip. I will, in the second segment of this tale, show you the “Left Leg” of the trail taking you up the Herman’s Gulch side all the way up to the lake.

Always enjoy the vast treasure we have before us, but do it responsibly and cautiously and with all due respect to the kings of the forests that live there. Remember to be safe, always pack the right gear and never ever go into their domain up prepared, not ever for a minute. Until the next time if you ever come across a trail jumping flesh-eating creek-vaulting gun-toting knife wielding stick swinging Metal Chef-ing banjo pickin' guitar playin' owner of a face you'll never forget and one only his mother could love scarier than your mamma could ever warn you about spooky dude who might just cook and eat you, NEVER, EVER, use the term bushwhacking in his un-holy presence…



This is THE AMERICAN WOLVERINE…

Monday, July 21, 2014

Watrous Gulch Trail

Set in the Arapaho National Forest just before the Eisenhower Tunnel, this breath-taking hike leaves no doubt as to the wondrous beauty our state holds. Herman’s Gulch trailhead is accessible from Exit 218, just off I-70. Your climb starts at about 10,400 feet and you can roll over 13,300 depending on the peak you plan to tackle or you can simply stay on the trails to enjoy the pristine beauty.

As you start your accent, you will have a choice of taking the left or the right fork. The right fork takes you across a path that isn’t quite as steep and offers many wide open shots overlooking the I-70 corridor as you wind your way up the trail. The trail has many switchbacks in both directions but I believe starting with the right fork is much easier. The left fork takes you along a creek for a shorter period and leads you into more wide open fields where, if you time your trip correctly, you will have an amazing view of some of Colorado’s most colorful wildflower blooms (remember, this is the harder leg of the trail). I must also warn you, this is the location I saw what was said to be the impossible; a porcupine attacking a dog. Yes, the dog was on a leash minding its own business when the creature came out of the brush unprovoked and swatted the dog with its tail; giving the poor dog a face full of quills. The “experts” at Colorado Division of Wildlife said this was an impossible occurrence. These are the same “experts” that were at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars coming from our license fees and tax dollars stocking the wrong cut-throat trout in Colorado for decades. These are the same “experts” that insist a crossbreed Cutthroat-Brown Trout didn’t exist until I caught and produced pictures of this nonexistent fish... but I will get into this at another time. Here is just a little general information for you to know: The Porcupines found in North and South America are good climbers who spend much of their time in trees. Some even have prehensile (gripping) tails to aid in climbing. The North American porcupine is the only species that lives in the U.S. and Canada, and is the largest of all porcupines. A single animal may have 30,000 or more quills. North American porcupines use their large front teeth to satisfy a healthy appetite for wood. They eat natural bark and stems, and have been known to invade campgrounds and chew on canoe paddles. North American porcupines also eat fruit, leaves, and springtime buds. Needless to say had that been my dog I would be sporting a new porcupine hat.

Back to the trail, we will go up the Right fork first. As I started up on the trail within just a few minutes, I had my first run in with a bull moose; he was docile and simply trotted off into the woods after giving me the once over. This area isn’t as brushy as the left fork and I shortly jumped trail to hit a peak that was too tempting to pass up. I started my climb and was blown away by the amazing shots that surrounded me. The game trail just across the creek was my chosen path (I recommend you have some good climbing poles to help with the grade and the rocks). I actually broke a climbing pole on the way up and if it were not for my multi-tool, I would have not been able to make the repair which would have made the trip home quite difficult.
In spite of all the snow that was visible, it was quite warm and shorts and a T-shirt were all I required to wear for the trip. I must add here that you should never go into the wilderness unprepared, ever! My small pack has all the essential gear I will need to make it through a few days if I need to. The shorts I wear are zip off and I carry the legs parts to make them pants in my pack. I carry a light jacket, a fire starter, first-aid, a flare gun, an emergency blanket, food, water filter, etc. Carry what you think you need but always have what will help you survive should the unthinkable happen. Always remember where you are and know that this can be a very unforgiving place.

As you turn to the west, you can see I-70 as it rolls its way to the tunnel (Cars look like ants from here and I am still not to the top). Three more self manufactured switchbacks and I came around the corner of a small outcropping of rocks facing something I never expected to encounter this high up or anywhere in Colorado for that matter. Standing there facing me as plain as day, as bold as you please was this scary, "make you scream like a little girl" burly dude packing at least two large guns with the possibility of a third and without even having the chance to think he said, “Hey you, Take my picture”. Thinking of all of the terrible things that could befall a cozy little creature like me so far from civilization I said “Sssure, Mmisster.” Taking a few quick shots with his camera and one of my own, I was off on my way breathing a sigh of relief that I had not just become dinner to what I presumed to be a dying species, a Neanderthal belonging to

skiing
Sunday, July 20, 2014

Watrous Gulch is a great place to ski. I skied here several times this spring. The snow is consistent on south and east aspects and the views from the ridge are spectacular. Probably the best view of the Tuning Fork on Torreys Peak, another great spring ski. You may even see a ptarmigan or two on the ridge.

hiking
Friday, August 16, 2013

I was planning to do Herman Lake, but I've been there several times. So when I got to the split for Herman's lake trail or Watrous gulch I went right for Watrous. It has had some tree cutting for probably the first mile; but after that it becomes nice. Really nice creek crossing. Once across the creek it splits again left for watrous trail or right for Bards creek trail. Also there is a really nice camp spot here with a good fire ring and shade and a "lean to" shelter here. Plan on a backpack trip here for a base camp. On up watrous for a ways to the top of the ridge. You can actually do four 13ers here also. My plan! Only saw 4 people on the hike. Which was on a Friday. The first part is not so great; but once you get out of the tree cutting area it becomes quit nice.

hiking
12 days ago

hiking
1 month ago

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