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Devil’s Head Fire Lookout.

Devil’s Head Fire Lookout is not the most remote outdoor location near Colorado Springs, and you might see more people from Denver on this hike of amazing 360° views and historical importance.

How to get there.

Even though Devil’s Head might be a stretch to call local to Colorado Springs, it is only thirty-two miles as the crow flies but closer to an hour and a half as the car drives. Devil’s Head Fire Lookout  is generally only open from mid-May to mid-September and parts of Rampart Range road are closed from December until the snow melts off in the spring. Make sure to check the conditions if you are going early in the spring or in the fall so you are not disappointed.   From Colorado Springs, head north on I-25 to Tomah Rd., Exit #174. Go north on Frontage Rd. and turn west back onto Tomah until you come to the “T” which is highway 105. Head north on 105 for seven miles to Jackson Creek Rd. where you will turn west and drive on Jackson Creek. Pavement will give way to a very winding dirt road all the way to Rampart Range Rd. where you will turn left or south for a short while. You will see plenty of signs for Devil’s Head campground and the parking area for the Devil’s Head Fire Lookout Trailhead.

The Devil’s Head Fire Lookout trail is a popular one. We left early enough from Colorado Springs to reach the trailhead by 8 a.m. along with twenty or thirty carloads of other hikers. If you are wanting the area more to yourself, get there very early, probably 7 a.m. or earlier. Even though the parking lot may be full, the trail itself wasn’t too bad. It seems to be well groomed and wide enough to alleviate any hiker traffic jams and feelings of overcrowding.

The Hike.

My particular hiking app tracked our distance at just over three miles and just under a thousand feet of climbing from the parking lot to the top of the tower and back. Even though that is a fair amount of climbing over a fairly short hike, I would still only call it a moderately difficult hike. The incline is consistent, the trail is in great shape, and there are plenty of places to stop and rest to take in some stunning views.

At the end of the hike a narrow rock pathway opens up to a lush green meadow, the ranger cabin and the last 143 steps to the fire lookout. The stairs to the fire lookout are not for those with a fear of heights (see video). The stairs are sturdy but also steep, narrow and exposed, though there is a handrail. Beyond the stairs is a short walk through a rock pathway with a fence and rails to the fire lookout building. If you can tough out the last harrowing steps to the building, the 360° views of the front range, plains, and on a good day Wyoming, are nothing short of amazing.

The fire lookout location and building have a long history. Devil’s Head has been used as a fire lookout for over one hundred years and the current building has been on the top of the rock since 1951! Except for a phone and modern radio, the inside is still very simple, including the instrument used to determine the location of a spotted fire. If you are lucky enough, you might run into Ranger Bill Ellis manning the tower. Mr. Ellis has been looking out for fires from Devil’s Head off and on for the last fifty years. His knowledge, experience, and sense of humor are worth the hike alone. It seems Mr. Ellis and other rangers have taken the time to write the answers to some of the most common questions on lists hanging within the cabin. If you ask a question that’s on a list, they will just point you to it. One of the scarier experiences Mr. Ellis might mention is when an EF1 tornado struck a path near the parking lot while he was in the tower just last year.

The Devil’s Head fire lookout hike is definitely worth the time, and I highly recommend it. While much of the hike is typical beautiful Colorado pine trees and rocky terrain, the destination is very different and is like taking a step back in time.

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