Bull Pasture Trail

I continued my pursuit of close-to-home forest trails yesterday with a hike up the Bull Pasture Trail. It climbs 2,000′ in elevation over the course of two miles–it’s a steep son of a bitch. In order avoid the heat I got up ridiculously early and began hiking by 6:45AM. The initial ascent was steeper than the rest of the trail. In addition to being steep, the trail was also very rocky. That this trail (and others like it) is open to mountain bikes, while more suitable trails like the Left Fork of Huntington are closed to wheeled travel, perfectly illustrates the Forest Service’s duplicity. On paper they can say they’re supportive of multi-use trails, but on the ground only hoof or foot traffic is tenable. While I watched the sun creep down the opposite side of the canyon, I enjoyed shade for almost the entire ascent. There were a few kinds of wildflowers in abundance, along with several kinds of pine trees, including my favorite, the ponderosa. I’d hoped to see some bristlecone pines but ended up being disappointed.

Sign at the beginning of the trail
Sign at the beginning of the trail

Steep, rocky trail
Steep, rocky trail

Sunlight hitting the opposite side of Huntington Canyon
Sunlight hitting the opposite side of Huntington Canyon

Rocky section of trail
Rocky section of trail

Highway 31
Highway 31

Indian Paintbrush and the sun rising over the ridge
Indian Paintbrush and the sun rising over the ridge

Bull Pasture Trail
Bull Pasture Trail

M
M

Cairn marking a switchback on the trail
Cairn marking a switchback on the trail

Climbing up a ridge
Climbing up a ridge

Bull Pasture Trail
Bull Pasture Trail

Eaton’s Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)
Eaton's Penstemon (Penstemon eatonii)

Blue-Stemmed Penstemon (Penstemon cyanocaulis)
Blue-Stemmed Penstemon (Penstemon cyanocaulis)

Final climb to the top
Final climb to the top

I reached Wild Cattle Ridge where the trail essentially disappeared, and I felt the full force of the sun there. I pressed on just a little farther and higher to point 9,390′. The little knoll was surrounded by trees, however, and didn’t offer much in the way of views. I hiked a bit east and caught a glimpse of upper Huntington Canyon, including the Left Fork and Skyline Drive area where some snow was still visible.

Cairn marking the top of the trail
Cairn marking the top of the trail

Crandall Canyon Mine
Crandall Canyon Mine

Panorama showing Huntington Canyon and East Mountain
Panorama showing Huntington Canyon and East Mountain

View from point 9,390′
View from point 9,390'

View north toward upper Huntington Canyon
View north toward upper Huntington Canyon

Left Fork of Huntington Canyon
Left Fork of Huntington Canyon

I took a short rest before beginning the descent. The sun had risen enough that I had full sun while hiking back down the trail. Twice I missed a switchback and ended up hiking in the wrong direction before realizing my mistake and finding a way back to the trail. I was soaked in sweat by the time I reached the bottom, even though I’d hardly broken a sweat on the way up. The ascent had taken just under three hours and the descent lasted a little over an hour. My legs barely felt like I’d done any hiking, and I almost did another hike in Ray Grange Hole, but the heat was already too much and I ended up just driving home. I think I’m ready for some Colorado 14ers now!

Heading down the trail in full sunlight
Heading down the trail in full sunlight

Brands carved into a pine tree with a chainsaw
Brands carved into a pine tree with a chainsaw

Bottom of the trail at Highway 31
Bottom of the trail at Highway 31


Photo Gallery: Bull Pasture Trail
GPS Track and Photo Waypoints:
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