There’s something magical about a trail that follows a fast-moving mountain stream. Much of the trails in the Lost Creek Wilderness come with a helping of that magic. Throughout this 120,000-acre wilderness, the creek roars, bubbles, or simply disappears (gets “lost”). Lost Creek was officially designated in the Colorado Wilderness Act of 1980.
What Makes It Great
With elevations ranging from 8,000 to 12,400 feet, the area contains the Kenosha Mountains and most of the Platte River Mountains, as well as the Tarryall Mountains, which are home to one of the most productive bighorn sheep herds in Colorado. The Colorado Trail also passes through here. There are 130 miles of trails dotted with the wilderness area’s distinctive granite domes and towers, arches, spires and knobs that many say resemble the Yosemite Valley. Vegetation changes with the elevation, from ponderosa and aspen to lodgepole and bristlecone.
The Hankins Pass Trail is the southernmost trail in Lost Creek and starts at the Goose Creek Trailhead in Lost Creek, dropping quickly. After about .25 miles, cross the creek on a bridge and watch for the Hankins Pass sign. The trail begins to climb steadily, for a total of about six miles, weaving across the creek several times on crude log bridges and stepping stones. Towering aspen trees (some of the largest in the region) shade your way, crowding up against ponderosa pines.
After about three miles, the trail levels out and opens to a sun-drenched meadow that holds the remains of beaver ponds. The flat section is short, however – it starts uphill again alongside rock gargoyles and spires. At the top of a saddle ridge, you’ll reach the Lake Park Trail where you can turn around, making this 12 miles round trip, or continue on to explore more of Lost Creek. Eventually, Hankins Pass Trail connects with McCurdy Park Trail and Wigwam Trail.
Who is Going to Love It
Anyone who appreciates the quiet backcountry experience that wilderness areas offer. Even though this is one of the most popular wilderness areas in the state, there are still plenty of places to get off the trail for a secluded camping spot.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From Colorado Springs, take U.S. Highway 24 west to Woodland Park. Head north on Colorado Highway 67 to Deckers. Turn left on Highway 126 and after 3 miles, watch for Goose Creek Trailhead sign.
Wilderness area rules apply – no bikes or motor vehicles, but dogs (leashed) and horses are allowed. This is a popular backcountry camping area, so there are fire rings throughout. If you start a campfire, use an existing ring if possible.