Happy Trails: Devil's Head Lookout (copy)

Devil's Head tower stands 9,748 ft. above Pike National Forest on a cloudy day in the end of April. For the past 35 years Bill Ellis, 85, and his wife Margaret Ellis, 77, have watched for smoke at the Devil's Head tower, one of Colorado's last operating fire lookout towers. (Photo by Dougal Brownlie, The Gazette).

The main feature on one of Colorado’s most unique hikes has been closed due to safety and maintenance concerns. While hikers of Devil’s Head Lookout trail are typically able to climb dozens of steps to a lookout tower on top of a massive rock outcropping, this is no longer the case.

A heavily trafficked out-and-back trail in Pike National Forest, concerns about the safety and maintenance prompted the closure of the main feature along this route. According to AllTrails, this is an indefinite closure of the tower that will last through the rest of 2019 at the least. The hike is closed at the base of the metal steps. The trail is still open, but the staircase to the top of the tower is not.

Devil's Head Lookout Tower legend Bill Ellis retires — not an easy task for 87-year-old

This closure comes months after long-time fire watchman, Billy Ellis, stepped down from his role at the age of 87 after roughly 35 years at the post.

The road to this trailhead, Rampart Range Road, is typically closed during the winter season from December 1st (or earlier pending weather) to April (or later pending weather).

Devil’s Head Lookout trail attracts many visitors thanks to great views from the top. It’s steep, but rated as moderate. According to the USFS, it’s 1.4 miles long and takes roughly 45-90 minutes one-way. AllTrails lists the trail at 2.5 miles and 885 of elevation gain.

Campsites in the area were shut down in 2018 following a shootout.

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