Woods Mountain stands at 12,940ft. in Colorado's Front Range
. It only takes an hour from Denver to get to this peak. Unlike many Front Range peaks, you won't find any crowds in your approach through Watrous Gulch. This is partly due to the fact that the trail to reach this mountain doesn't lead to any waterfalls, lakes or one of Colorado's 100 highest peaks. So it is overlooked. Yet this hike offers great views and a solid outing. If your desiring some solitude, Woods Mountain could be for you. While hiking up Woods easy slopes, you may decide to climb the neighboring Mt. Parnassus
(13,574ft.) and Bard Peak
(13,641ft.). If you do your in for a great workout! Bighorn Sheep are prone to hanging out on the rockier portions of Parnassus' West slopes. This is a great area.
Roundtrip Distance (From Exit 218) approximately 6 and a 1/2 miles
Elevation Gain 2,540ft.
I-70 and Exit 218 ~ Watrous Gulch Trail
If you are heading from Denver take I-70 west and pass Idaho Springs and Goergetown. You will also pass the exit for Silver Plume. Go 6 miles west past Silver Plume and take exit 218. This exit is 5 miles East of the Eisenhower Tunnel. You will take your first two immediate rights off of the exit. Park in the large lot for the trailhead (there is really nothing else around). Start off the hike following the signs for Herman Gulch. After a little stroll you will come to a right turn for Watrous Gulch, take it. Hed up the fairly steep trail as it leads you through dense vegitation. The trail will veer you left and into Watrous Gulch near treeline. Cross a small creek and follow the well defined trail to treeline. The views expand nicely here. Follow this trail north as it approaches Woods Mountains South side. The trail will end and you must choose your path from here. You can use Woods southwest slopes or the southeast saddle connecting Woods with Parnassus.
Photo by Ryan Kowalski
There isn't any red tape that I'm aware of. This peak isn't on private property and is free for all.
Photo by skasgaard
Watrous Gulch offers some great backpacking possibilities. Potential campsites abound once you begin to hike through watrous gulch. In some instances you may find a pre-existing fire pit.
If you're going to attempt a winter ascent I'd recommend stopping by the Colorado Avalanche Information Center
website. It's an invaluable resource!!
For More Information regarding this area I'd recomend:
Arapahoe National Forest Service, Clear Creek Ranger District
101 Chicago Creek, Box 3307
Idaho Springs, CO 80452
Maps: Arapahoe National Forest, USGS Grays Peak Quad