In wilderness, as is written in the protection act of 1964, man “is a visitor who does not remain.”
As it is for nearly 7,000 acres in the Pikes Peak region, designated not as Lost Creek Wilderness Area farther west, but rather as a state wildlife area. That’s for bighorn sheep lambing, closing Dome Rock from Dec. 1 through July 15.
So it’s true: Man does not remain. But while here, he’s filled with the gratitude that true backcountry provides.
We recommend starting the loop from the first parking lot reached from the road. See the path behind the signage, running through tall grass.
At an unmarked split at 2.1 miles, hang right. The uphill is rather rigorous before flattening at a high point. The Pikes Peak massif scrapes the sky nearby. Above Lost Creek’s colorful mosaic beyond are rows of 14,000-foot peaks: the Collegiate, Mosquito and Sangre de Cristo ranges.
By turning right at 3 miles, you’ll shorten the trip and miss the prize scenery. We took the next turn at 3.3 miles, descending again and this time very steeply, glad we weren’t coming up this way.
The trail thins in a vast meadow with towering aspens and massive rock outcrops. Soon, Dome Rock commands the view, along with other high-perched granite wonders.
We came to our first of several stream crossings at 6.1 miles. Either go barefoot or have a pair of extra socks.
The trail veers right, winding along the other side of Dome Rock. The next half of the trip tours thick woods, where the water rushes like a symphony.
Near 10 miles, pay attention to the path faintly trending left. Cross a log bridge and continue on the trail straddling a hillside.
Trip log: 11.7 miles round trip (loop), 1,766 feet elevation gain, 9,638 feet max
Getting there: From U.S. 24 in Divide, take Colorado 67 south. After the entrance to Mueller State Park, turn right for Teller County Road 61. Parking lot in about 2 miles.
FYI: Hiking only; horses on designated trails. No dogs. No camping.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE