Explore Colorado: Hell’s Hole

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CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. -- The name is uninviting but Hell’s Hole is a scenic, shallow basin in Mount Evans Wilderness near Idaho Springs.

Starting elevation is about 9500 feet.  About five minutes into the hike is the permit station.  Permits are free, but registration is required for Mount Evans Wilderness.

You’ll hike along West Chicago Creek for about a mile on this trail.  This is a fantastic fall hike because of the large aspen grove you go through.  You’ll gain about 1,200 feet in the first two miles before it levels off on the ridge for miles two and three.

At about mile 3.5, the pines open up to a vast glacial valley filled with alpine willows.  About halfway through the valley, you will see Bristle Cone Pines.

The knotted and twisted trees are unusual and able to survive in the harsh environment of persistent winds, high elevation, and cold temperatures.  Hell’s Hole sits at an elevation of about 11,200 feet at the base of Gray Wolf Mountain.  The hike is 9 miles round trip.

To get to Hell's Hole take Highway 103 south of Idaho Springs for 6.5 miles then turn right on to West Chicago Creek Road for 3 miles.  The dirt road dead ends at the trailhead.

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