OverviewThe Sawatch Range in Colorado has a plethora of opportunities for unforgettable mountaineering adventures. Within its boundaries, the Sawatch holds a total of fifteen fourteeners, four of which are within the top five highest peaks in all of Colorado. Therefore, it is no surprise that Bull Hill is not included on many peak baggers lists.
At 13,761 feet, it eludes me as to why this prominent peak is termed a ‘hill’. A climb up the moderately steep slopes should have anyone wondering the same. Bull Hill, while being somewhat outshined by it’s larger and more “Massive” neighbors to the north and south, offers breathtaking views and plenty of opportunity to test one’s mountaineering endurance. Additionally, a climb of Bull Hill offers a bicentennial peak-bag before taking on higher peaks in the area. Mount Elbert, Colorado’s highest peak lies a mere 1.6 miles to the northeast, and 13,908 foot Casco Peak, a centennial thirteener ranked 69th among Colorado’s highest peaks lies 2 miles to the west.
Bull Hill lies within the boundaries of the San Isabel National Forest in Lake County, but is not a part of any designated wilderness area. It can be climbed from at least two trailheads. Either option offers 3,000+ feet of elevation gain in a relatively short distance.
RoutesBlack Cloud Ascent
Echo Canyon Ascent
Other Approaches: One may find passage to the summit of Bull Hill from the Halfmoon Creek side to the north. I, however am unfamiliar with this area, and appears that it would require an ascent up steep, loose rock. The summit is attainable if the ridge connecting with Casco Peak can be attained. The final push to the summit from this ridge would require little more than class 2+.
Getting ThereFrom the Denver Metro Area, take I-70 West approximately 64 miles to Copper Mountain, Colorado. Take Exit 195 and merge with CO-91 toward Leadville. After 22.2 miles, make a slight right and merge with US-24 and follow it through the historic town of Leadville. You will remain on US-24 for 16.3 miles until you come to CO-82. Take a right on E CO-82 toward Twin Lakes and Independence Pass. The Black Cloud Trailhead lies on the right 10.4 miles down CO-82 and the Echo Canyon Trailhead is unmarked and is slightly further at 12.6 miles on the right.
Red TapeThere are no fees or permits required.
CampingCampsites abound in the Twin Lakes Recreation Area. The small township of Twin Lakes on CO-82 offers a few lodging options as well.
There are no designated camping areas at either Black Cloud trailhead or Echo Canyon trailhead. However many suitable campsites can be found up and around both trails.