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Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States

Beaver Creek Loop

Wonderful Wilderness Close to Home

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    This guide contains photos
 (5 votes, 2 reviews)
Difficulty: Moderate
Length: 7.3 miles / 11.7 km
Duration: Half day
 
Overview: The Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area covers 40,000 acres of uninhabited, road-free wild country. According to the Central Colorado Wilderness Coalition, “bighorn sheep and elk find winter and summer range in Beaver Creek. Mule deer, black bear, mountain lion, beaver, golden and bald eagle, and ring-tailed cats and the threatened Mexican spotted owl and peregrine falcon utilize the area. Vegetation includes Douglas fir, Ponderosa pine, Limber pine, aspen, pinõn-juniper woodlands, and wetlands streams.” Beaver Creek is in the Pike National Forest, 13 miles northeast of Canon City and 10 miles southwest of Colorado Springs. Its boundaries are within El Paso, Fremont, and Teller Counties, and it lies on the south slope of Pikes Peak between Phantom Canyon Road and Hwy 115.

The Beaver Creek Loop hike begins at the trailhead at the end of CR 132, but the loop itself starts about .75 miles from the trailhead. During this hike you’ll experience creek bottom jungle, quadriceps burning ascents, breathtaking views of vertical splendor and evergreen carpets, and the magical sights and sounds of a rushing Rocky Mountain river. You will not be the first to make this trip because some of the trail was engineered during Gold Rush days. You will discover that this 7.3 mile trek is truly an “E-Ticket ride” that will make you want to get in line again and again.

Go south on Hwy 115 out of Colorado Springs for 32 miles. Turn right at the Brush Hollow Reservoir turnoff onto Fremont County Road 123. Follow this road 5 miles to CR 132. Turn right and travel 11 miles to the parking area. CR 132 is a dirt road, graded every spring. Some of its is quite rutted, but I’ve seen all kinds of vehicles in the trailhead parking area. If you want a really FULL day, drive down Hwy 67 from Divide. This becomes Phantom Canyon Road (24 miles of Colorado beauty), which parallels Beaver Creek (but not within view). Turn east on CR 123 until you reach CR 132.


Tips: Bring Water! During the summer temperatures can reach into the 90s. You'll use a lot of water hiking this route.

If you bring a dog, bring more water. And, I'd suggest dog boots; the decomposed granite on this trail can be rough on a dog's feet.

There's a big, yellow sign for a shooting range right before the turn off onto 132 when you're coming from the east.

I didn't mark "family friendly" or "dog friendly." Both could do this hike, depending on the age and strength of the family member or the dog.

Points of Interest

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Trailhead

The trailhead provides you with an outstanding preview of your hike. From the parking lot you can see the top of the ridge you’ll climb and hints of the two canyons that will take you to and from this ascent. Three information boards mark the beginning of the trail. Walk through the gate and down the dual track road into Banta Gulch. Veer to the left after about 150 yards and head north toward the red rocks. The track will narrow as you approach the starting point for the loop.
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Creek Diversion

At this point you can leave the main trail for about 400 yards and visit Beaver Creek for the first time. This takes you to a quite, sheltered place along the creek. Past this point the trail is alternately rough and well groomed, up to the loop start point.
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Loop Start

You can go either way at this point. I recommend turning right onto Trail Gulch Trail (redundant, I know; but I’m just the reporter). From here, the trail runs along a dry creek bed, crossing it many times on the way up its length. You’ll climb about 400 ft to the junction of this trail and Powerline Trail. The creek may seem dry, but as you traverse it, note the fullness of the vegetation through which you’re walking; there’s water under your feet. The vegetation changes as you go north, from dense grasses to stands of ponderosa pine.
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Powerline Trail

Trail Gulch continues north to Rosemont Reservoir on Gold Camp Rd. To complete Beaver Creek Loop though, you’ll need to turn north on Powerline Trail. From here you’ll climb – about 1000 ft over the next mile. While tempted to keep your eyes down on the path in front of you, make the effort to lift them up to take in the new vistas that each cut across the mountain opens to you. At the top of the first summit (yes, as always there are two summits), you’ll be able to look south and see your car in the trailhead parking lot, along with a dramatic view of the valley between Pueblo and Canon City, and the Wet Mountains beyond.
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Descent

Now in the western edge of the ridge, you’ll begin your descent into the Beaver Creek canyon. Along the trail there are a few of the old power poles and some of the ceramic insulators on which the wire was strung. The canyon is actually two canyons. West and East Beaver Creeks meet at the bottom of the hill. You’ll be able to see this more clearly as you descend and the rock formations unmask their true faces.
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Turn Here

You have a choice here. If you continue down the trail, you’ll arrive at the river. You’ll actually be at the East creek; the two creeks join just a few yards from where the trail ends. You can turn south at this point and find your way back to the beginning of the loop. You’ll have to cross the creek three or four times to accomplish this. It’s an interesting trek. I’ve done it. OR, you can turn left at this point and follow a trail above the creek bed (more or less). Following this trail will take you down to the creek a couple of times, but it always brings you back up along the canyon wall. As you walk down the canyon note the mountains across from you -- the northern one un-named, the southern one, Sugarloaf. These help you keep a sense of progress as you move along the path.
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Last Decision

Near the end is one last dip to the canyon floor. The trail will take you to a cliff face. Again, you can choose to climb over the face of the cliff or cross the creek to get around it. I’ve done both; be wise as you determine how much mountain goat DNA you acquired from your ancestors (or how tired you are at this point, or whether or not you need to show off). [Notice these two pictures were taken in two different seasons; water level may help you make up your mind.]
Pictures in this guide taken by: dougknighton
Reviews
myself365
I should have read the full guide here before going on this hike. We took the fork to the left instead of to the right and ended up getting lost two or three times further down the trail. I also didn't realize that you have to cross the creek, or I would have picked a different hike, as I am 5'3" tall and found the crossing rather difficult.

It took us two and a half hours to get to the part in section 6 where you have to cross the river three or four times, because of all the backtracking we did earlier. It looks like there may have once been the way he described where you don't have to go down to the creek, but there's a huge tree fallen across the path.

We turned around rather than try to figure out how to cross the river again, and the way back was much easier going, as we now knew the route and it's easier to see it going the way the guide described. In section seven, the cliff wall looks too steep from the north side, so we crossed the creek twice on the way out with some difficulty, but I climbed the cliff face on the way back rather easily. My fellow hiker is 6'4" and did not have any difficulty with the creek crossing or the cliff face. It was almost 100 degrees and there was at one point a snake in the trail that we had to climb around.

The views were fabulous, but the trail section we were on went up and down constantly and it was rather tiring, especially since some of the trail looks like it's going to crumble off the side of the mountain any moment.

We might try it again sometime, going to the recommended way around, as that seems to be a clearer trail. And next time I'll definitely read the full guide instead of just the summary information at the top! These seems like a longer and more strenuous hike than it was rated to be.

Visited on Jun 28, 2013

by myself365 on Jun 30, 2013
sjsteph
This was a great hike, and a spot-on guide. When given the choice, we tended to veer toward the creek...today was very hot and dry. Hit 100 degrees at least. The creek was really wonderful and we just hiked along in it for a ways and didn't mind a few crossings either.

It's Sunday and we didn't see a single other person, just one truck at the trailhead. It was a bit smoky today because of the Waldo Canyon fire going on; this may have kept traffic down, but I suspect this is a quiet loop anyways. As we pulled into the parking lot at 8 a.m. we saw a fox; that was the only wildlife all day I think. Speaking of Waldo Canyon, this hike reminded me very much of the W.C. loop. Similar terrain, but Beaver Creek is a tad longer, perhaps steeper/hillier (can't remember), and the creek has more water and is easily accessible.

Today was very tough on our dog (who normally does great on hikes). I agree booties would have made a huge difference - the ground and rocks were so hot, and sometimes sharp. She loved the creek (despite not being a water dog), and we gave her plenty of water, but she did slow us down and we even carried her (45 lbs!) a few times. She is happy to be home now.

The hike took us about 5.5 hours with a lunch break, some creek time, and a sore-pawed dog. Would certainly recommend it, especially if you are familiar with and like the Waldo Canyon loop. Not the most amazing views, but a very diverse trail with water and the potential for wildlife. Wear sunscreen, wear a hat, and bring a lot of water. Give yourself plenty of time to enjoy the loop.

Visited on Jun 24, 2012

by sjsteph on Jun 24, 2012

Beaver Creek Loop Trail Map


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About the Author

dougknighton
dougknighton
30 guides
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Retired Air Force Chaplain who began military life as an Airborne Ranger. Evidently I didn't get enough...

Beaver Creek Loop 3 Day Forecast

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