A Quick Day Hike Near Denver, CO
Our friend said, “this is one of the first places I recommend taking visitors when they want to go do something around Denver.” One of the great things about living in Denver is the abundance of day hike opportunities, so we decided to check it out!
Devils Head is located in Pike National Forest, just 45 miles south of Denver. It takes about an hour to get there, but that’s mostly because of the dirt road you will have to drive for about 10 miles (I’ll get to that later).
The in and out trail is about 2.5 miles round trip. It’s most strenuous towards the end, which includes a few steep switchbacks just before you hit the 143 stairs that take you to the fire lookout. My wife and I booked it up the trail with our 8 month old puppy, but you could turn this hike into a Sunday stroll just by taking your time and enjoying the views.
The fire lookout is the treasure at the end of the ascent.
The Devils Head Fire Lookout
Built over 100 years ago, the Devils Head Fire Lookout is the last active and operational lookout in Colorado. As you finish your last switchback, the hill plateaus and you will see a ranger’s cabin to your left and restrooms to your right. Straight ahead, the staircase to the lookout stares you down.
Somewhere around the halfway point going up the stairs, our dog, Penny (you can find her on Instagram) looked back at us with a look of uncertainty. She hustled her way up the rest of the stairs, and enjoyed the views almost as much as we did.
Once you make your way to the very top, the lookout will provide you with amazing 360 views for miles. Even with the smoke from the wildfires in surrounding states, we were able to see Pike’s Peak, Mount Evans, and other +14,000′ elevation peaks “nearby”.
Greeting you at the lookout is a park ranger, ready to share some knowledge and answer any questions you have about the lookout or your views. I won’t spoil the surprise, but he will also give you a little souvenir.
Devils Head Hike Details
- The elevations is 9,749′. Take your time if you’re just visiting so that the elevation change doesn’t ruin your fun.
- The last 10 miles of the drive to Devils Head trailhead is dirt road. It’s well maintained and can be traversed with a car, however, I was very happy we drove our Xterra instead. Other than a few bumps, there were some big dips towards the entrance of the trailhead parking lot that most cars bottomed out driving over. All terrain tires and some ground clearance helped, but are not necessary. Just drive aware.
- Side note: We did see a small SUV that was driving too fast on the dirt road and ended up ripping off an entire side of their car from losing control. Stick to the speed limit.
- Arrive early in the morning.
- Parking is free… If you can find a spot.
- If you can’t find a spot in the free lot, you can park about half a mile away for free or pay $5 to park at a campsite next to the trailhead.
- Dogs are welcome, but please pick up after them and keep them leashed.
- The hike is in-and-out, and is a total of 2.7 miles (according to our Apple Watch and AllTrails.com).
- Give yourself around 2-3 hours to finish the hike. That should give you time to rest, take photos, admire the views, and snack near the fire tower.
Is the Hike Worth It?
The verdict? Our friend was right. We will be taking our friends and family here in the future when the come to visit us as well. Whether you live in Colorado or are just visiting, don’t miss out on the Devils Head Fire Lookout hike.