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On Walkabout On: The Lovell Gulch Trail, Colorado

Basic Information:

  • What: Lovell Gulch
  • Where: Woodland Park, Colorado
  • Elevation: 9,340 feet
  • Distance: 6 miles round-trip
  • Elevation Gain: 1,082 feet
  • Time: 3-4 hours
  • Difficulty: EasyMediumHardDifficult
  • More Information: SummitPost.org

Topographic Map for Lovell Gulch Trail

Lovell Gulch Trail Map

Elevation Map of Lovell Gulch

Lovell Gulch Elevation Map

Narrative

After a recent snowfall struck the Pikes Peak region I used it as an opportunity to go snowshoeing on a local trail that I had not tried yet.  Over the past two years I have been slowly completing all 20 hikes in the guide book, “The Best Colorado Springs Hikes (Colorado Mountain Club Pack Guides)” and the Lovell Gulch Trail outside Woodland Park was still one I needed to complete.  Due to the recent snowfall I decided to get out my snowshoes and try out this trail.  Getting to Woodland Park from Colorado Springs is very easy by taking Highway 24 North through Ute Pass to the city:

In Woodland Park is where it can be tricky to find the trailhead.  On Highway 24 look for the McDonald’s and at that stoplight take a right on to Baldwin Street.  Continue to go straight on this road through all the stop signs.  The road will eventually turn into Rampart Range Road and head towards the mountains on the outskirts of the city.  While driving up the road look for the City of Woodland Park maintenance shop:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

This maintenance shop is where the trailhead is located.  There is no sign on the road pointing out this trail, but there is a sign point for the City of Woodland Park maintenance shop.  I turned into the maintenance shop after seeing this sign which is located on the left of the road.  At the maintenance shop there are plenty of signs warning  visitors to not park in front of the shop so I went and parked along the far fence line.  Since it was about 6:30 in the morning I had the only vehicle in the lot, so I was able to get a good parking spot near the trailhead.  There is no big sign pointing out the trailhead, but it is still easily spotted from the dirt lot:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

As I started down Lovell Gulch Trail who’s official name is Trail 706, I immediately had a nice view of the sun rise on the nearby 14,115 foot Pikes Peak to the south:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

Pikes Peak is my favorite 14er in Colorado and it was looking quite brilliant the morning I hiked the Lovell gulch Trail.  You can read about my prior hikes up Pikes Peak at the below links:

The start of the trail I found a little confusing because there were social trails in the snow going off in all different directions.  However, there was enough trail signs to keep me on the right path:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

The first part of the trail crossed over a sparsely wooded area before heading into the densely forested hills up ahead:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

Before being completely submerged by the trees I had a really nice view once again of the sunrise on Pikes Peak:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

Here is a closer look at the sunrise on Pikes Peak:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

After spending a few minutes admiring the view I continued on down the trail and into the forest:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

The snow was not deep enough at the start of the hike to warrant putting on my snowshoes.  I was actually a bit disappointed because I was expecting more snow:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

However, as I got further down the trail and deeper into the trees the snow became deeper, but still not enough to warrant putting on snowshoes:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

At about a mile into the hike this is where I came upon the intersection for the loop around Lovell Gulch:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

My guidebook recommended going right first, but I went left because that is where the viewpoints of Pikes Peak is located.  The early morning light was perfect for taking pictures of the mountain and I wanted to take advantage of it.  As I took the left I once again entered a clearing that had some nice views of the hills and ranches to the North of Woodland Park:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

The clearing was caused by a strip of trees being cut down to make way for this large power line that would be a constant companion on this section of the trail:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

After crossing the clearing the trail begins to work its way up hill:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

It seemed at this point most people turned around because there was just one set of footprints in the snow ahead of me:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

As I hiked up the hill side the snow become deeper and the footing more slippery due to the snow.  I figured now was a good time to put on the snowshoes I had packed in my bag:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

In took me a few minutes to put my snowshoes on because of how cold my hands became trying to put the straps on.  My right hand was pretty numb by the time I got the straps on my snowshoes secured, but I was ready to go:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

As I continued up the hill whoever had come up here before me had turned around and I was breaking through fresh snow:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

At the 1.5 mile mark there is the option to take a short side trail to a lookout of Pikes Peak.  The lookout is made by the large power lines on the south side of the trail.  The view of Pikes Peak’s North face was quite spectacular:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

Nestled right below Pikes Peak I could see the charming town of Woodland Park down below:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

Besides Pikes Peak I could also make out a few peaks of the Sawatch Range out in the distance to the West:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

Here is a closer look at the two peaks I could see, the 14,197 foot Mt. Princeton on the right and the 14,269 foot Mt. Antero on the left:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

I actually climbed to the summit of Mt. Antero last year and plan to knock out Mt. Princeton early this year.  You can read more about my hike up Mt. Antero at the below link:

From the first lookout I then continued to hike up the hillside until I came to a path that led to a 2nd lookout:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

This lookout also provided a nice view of Pikes Peak, but the first one I thought was a little bit better since the hill in the foreground did not block so much of Pikes Peak:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

From the 2nd lookout I then continued to ascend up the hillside now crossing underneath the power lines:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

I would end up following these power lines for the rest of my hike up this hillside:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

The power lines did have the affect of providing better views due to the cutting of the trees.  I could even see mountains from the northern section of the Front Range to include the 14,255 foot Longs Peak out in the distance:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

Of course I could also see Pikes Peak to the South as well:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

It was going up this section of the trail that I ran into the first person I saw that morning who began his hike from the parking area on the top of the hill.  So that is another potential start point for people thinking of hiking this trail.  Next towards the top of the hillside, I came upon this group of boulders:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

From the boulders I was surprised by what a great view I had of the 14,264 foot Mt. Evans on the right and the 14,060 foot Mt. Bierstadt on the left:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

It was also really cool to be able to see the famed Sawtooth Ridge running between the two mountains from this distance:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

I have actually climbed both of these mountains and you can read more about it at the below links:

After spending a few minutes enjoying the view I continued up the hill and suddenly could hear the sounds of nearby gun fire.  Having been shot at before I knew it wasn’t coming towards me, but it was definitely nearby.  Soon enough I was on top of the hill which is designated by this iron gate:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

On the top of the hill Rampart Range Road can be seen which is where I spotted the source of all the gunfire.  Across the street there was a few vehicles parked with people firing their guns in a field.  I guess Rampart Range Road is Woodland Park’s version of the Frosty Park area outside of Colorado Springs that really sounds like a war zone.  From the top of the hill I spotted where Trail 706 continues on my right:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

This section of the trail follows the gulch section of the hike which means there were more trees and thus more snow on the ground to hike through:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

Hiking through the gulch with its snow covered trees made for a pleasant hike:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

I even passed by a section with a few very large boulders that during warmer months people may have fun climbing on:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

Along the trail I also saw a number of very large aspen trees which seem to thrive in this gulch:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

After about 30 minutes of snowshoeing I found myself back at the trail intersection where I crossed back over to the other side of the gulch:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

From here it was an easy walk back to the trailhead with its beautiful views of Pikes Peak in the distance:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

I also spotted a lot more people on the trail now who were out enjoying the weather usually with their dogs.  Soon enough I exited the trees and passed by the maintenance area again:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

Then up ahead I could see the trailhead in front of me which by now had a number of cars parked in it:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

As I loaded my gear back into the back of my truck I noticed that the old camper parked next me had an interesting pet living in it, a rabbit:

Picture from Lovell Gulch

That rabbit was one of the fattest ones I have ever seen.  I have to wonder if the rabbit has a kitty litter box or something it uses to poop in?

Conclusion

I made it back to the parking area by 11:00 which means it took me 3.5 hours to hike 6 miles and climb 1,082 feet in elevation.  I was obviously not going at an exceptionally fast pace, but I was on snowshoes and taking a lot pictures.  This means that many people can probably hike Lovell Gulch faster during the summer months.  Thus a 3-4 hour hike to complete the loop is probably a reasonable estimate for most people. When it warms up this summer I plan to actually run this route for 10k training because at 6 miles in length it is nearly 10 kilometers long.  The City of Woodland Park ought to think of hosting a yearly Lovell Gulch 10k race.  I am sure that the running community in the Pikes Peak region would enjoy participating in a race in beautiful Woodland Park.  For casual hikers the Lovell Gulch trail offers some of the best views of Pikes Peak.  These views can be accessed by most people with just a little effort since the first major viewpoint can be accessed after only a mile and a half of hiking.  This would make a round trip hike only three miles in distance.  So for those with little kids, mobility issues, or are just looking to improve their fitness for hiking this is a good option for them.  Whether a hard core hiker or a casual hiker Lovell Gulch is definitely a good place to checkout.

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