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Harmonica Arch of Lost Creek Wilderness.

Lost Creek Wilderness.

Lost Creek Wilderness seems to have a loyal following of people that have had a taste of the area. Lost Creek is not a flashy standout of Colorado and a large part of the wilderness was victim to the Hayman fire, Colorado’s largest wildfire that started in June of 2002. But it is a beautifully different mix of rugged, worn and rounded rock, centered around mysteriously disappearing creeks with consistently flowing clear waters.

Lost Creek Wilderness is a large area, and there are a great deal of hiking trails from easier day trips to more difficult multi-day excursions. Harmonica Arch is just one of those destinations within Lost Creek and happens to be one of the largest arches in Colorado and possibly the largest granite arch in the U.S. It might be one of the more difficult hikes in Lost Creek Wilderness, but the views and adventure are well worth it.

Harmonica Arch hike from Casey Bieker on Vimeo.

How to get to Goose Creek trailhead.

Even though the area is called Lost Creek Wilderness, the hike to Harmonica Arch begins at Goose Creek trailhead (see map). From Colorado Springs, drive west on Hwy24 to Tarryall Rd. just west of Lake George. Turn north onto Tarryall Rd. and drive about seven miles to Rd. 211 or “Matukat Rd.” Turn east onto 211, which is roughly a ten-mile drive on a semi-washboard dirt road through beautiful views of the area and remnants of the Hayman wildfire. You will see a sign for a short spur to the Goosecreek trailhead.  There is typically more than enough parking unless you are there on a weekend or holiday. It is generally not a heavily traveled area, and it is a large enough wilderness that you can get away from any crowds.  There is no fee for camping in the area; although, you do have to fill out a free camping permit at the trailhead registry. The main trail is very visible and wide open. From the trailhead, it drops down through part of the Hayman burn area (June 2002) and into a surprisingly lush green creek-side trail. A great perk about a trail like this is you don’t have to lug around large quantities of water; you are near a creek the vast majority of the time. Just take a good water filter and a bottle or camelback, and you should be set.

On this particular hike to Harmonica Arch, you can deviate from the main trail early on and head left or west of Goose Creek at the first bridge, or you can stay on the more maintained primary trail and risk having to find a make-shift creek crossing later. As you will see in the video, I went left at the bridge on the lesser-traveled trail, so I didn’t have to cross later. This is the most direct route, but in this instance, there had been a lot of rain and an otherwise narrow clear trail was covered with poison ivy.

If you do choose the left or west trail, you will continue through some tight areas and have to scramble down a very small rock face. The real labor of the hike begins when turning west up the canyon toward the top of a peak where Harmonica Arch sits. The coordinates for the junction to turn west are:

39° 11’ 7.89”N, 105° 23’ 30.76”W.

Even though the junction is not real difficult to find, there are several off-shoot social trails, and it can be a little confusing to know where to actually begin going up.

Harmonica Arch.

The climb towards the rock outcropping at the top can be brutally steep at times, the trail can be difficult to locate, and there is an occasional loose scramble to contend with. Fortunately, you are rewarded with amazing views and a little-seen rock feature in the end. You will end up ascending over one thousand feet and come to a bizarre flat, monolithic rock open-space, which is a great place to camp if you have the proper padding. Hiking through the flat area and up the eroded incline, reveals incredible 360° views. Continue south across a gap in the rock and along a large line of boulders towards what looks like a drop off the edge of the earth. This is the steepest part of the hike and is slightly exposed. All the rock seems to have plenty of texture and grip, just make sure to wear complementary shoes. Continuing down and around a set of boulders, you will be facing north and can get your first look at Harmonica Arch. From here, there is a fairly steep west to east angle, but you can get plenty close to the arch to see the dark water striations that give the arch its Harmonica name. It is possible to see the arch from above and even walk on top of it, but I have not done that myself.

Lost Creek Wilderness is a hidden gem in the middle of Colorado with an even lesser known great arch. Hopefully armed with this information, you will be able to discover this adventure for yourself and come back with some great stories!

Always feel free to contact me with any questions you may have about the hikes on this blog or if you just want to talk photography. Have fun out there!

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