OverviewSo, you've read descriptions of the Puma hills and words like "gentle", "rolling", and "hills" bring to mind easy strolls through wildflowers and greenery singing Edelweiss. Right? Save your songs for the summit. This trail-less, direct-up-the-darn-hill to the ridge route will have you focused on more practical matters...like breathing, for instance.
Note: This route is only for the hiker comfortable with off-trail navigation and route-finding through dense trees. Nothing even vaguely resembling a trail is remotely visible from start-to-finish on this hike. Remember, while reaching the summit is a fairly straightforward exercise, returning safely to the trailhead can be another matter. If your idea of navigation is a half-dead GPS burried in the bottom of your pack, please opt for a well-worn trail where you can practice your skills with map & compass suplemented by GPS. Very few people visit these Puma Hills summits. If you get lost, you will be lost in a big way.
Getting ThereFrom Colorado Springs: Hwy 24 West to Lake George. Just past lake George, turn right (northwest) on Park County 77 (Tarryall Road). Use caution with the minefields of potholes. Between dusk and dawn, deer and elk are incredibly numerous - watch your speed! Just before the Tarryall Reservoir, turn left on Park County 23 (Turner Gulch Road). Follow Park County 23 1.6 miles and turn left onto FS 144. Take FS (Forest Service Road) 144 4.5 miles to the junction with FS 237. Bear left/east at this junction and continue until a parking area where the road makes a sharp right, crosses a stream (Pack Creek) and heads into deep woods. There is no sign for this trailhead. Parking is ample with respect to the small volume of fellow trail users.
From Denver: Take Hwy 285 to the town of Jefferson and turn left on Park County 77 to the Tarryall Reservoir. (Keep an eye out for free range cattle.) Just southeast of the reservoir turn right on Park County 23 (Turner Gulch Road). Follow Park County 23 1.6 miles and turn left onto FS 144. Take FS (Forest Service Road) 144 4.5 miles to the junction with FS 237. Bear left/east at this junction and continue until a parking area where the road makes a sharp right, crosses a stream (Pack Creek) and heads into deep woods. There is no sign for this trailhead. Parking is ample with respect to the small volume of fellow trail users.
Route DescriptionApproximately round trip mileage: 2.5 miles
Approximate elevation gain: 1,400 feet
This route description is approximate and is meant to compliment a detailed topgraphical map. Nothing can compensate for your own, well-honed navigation skills, aided by map & compass and GPS.
- From the unsigned Packer Gulch trailhead at 9,700 feet, backtrack a very short while (count in yards, not miles) to a faint, grassed-over two-rut road and turn right. Do not attempt to hike the burned slopes.
- Head pretty much due-east on this two-rutter until it dies. Resist the temptation to turn right on another two-rutter.
- Continue heading east through young aspen groves and scattered mature pine
- Leaving the meadow, you'll find the grass under your feet turns to duff, the meadow turns to forest and the trail grows much steeper.
- Begin orienting your hike to the northeast up the steep, treed slope. We found it helpful to keep a gulley just to our left/north for orientation.
- Upon gaining the ridge, travel north. (We found it helpful to hug the east/right side of the ridge line for better footing.)
- Continue north and enter the burnsite. The summit ridge will come into view to your left/west.
- From here, I'll let you pick which of these outcrops is the real summit.
- Carefully retrace your steps. As your head southward, down from the summit, your downhike should begin shortly after the ridgeline rock outcrops peter out.
Essential GearFor safety and comfort, the following are recommended:
- Long pants. I strongly recommend against shorts for this hike through deep woods and fallen timber over a rocky slope.
- Topographic map
- Colorado Atlas and Gazetteer (for backroad navigation)
- Trekking pole(s)
- Sturdy hiking boots with grippy soles and stiff ankle support
- More water than you think you will need (these are dry mountains)
- First aid kit
- Other standard backcountry essentials
External LinksPike & San Isabel National Forests
Pike National Forest Recreation Map