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Checked off! – Hiking Devils Head

I first heard about Devils Head as a child. My mom liked to tell me about daring to hike all the way to the top with some friends – in the 1940s. Seems mom was something of a wild child: getting tossed from a motorcycle, climbing rocks that were off-limits. She would point out the mountain and tell me that it was the devil’s profile. I never saw it, and still do not see it.

Devils Head was one of mom’s favorite memories of her youth. So, it seemed only natural that I planned to climb it too, someday. I had heard of a “bucket list” but had not considered making such a list myself. However, climbing Devils Head certainly became a bucket-list item.

From the Devils Head Fire Lookout tower, at an elevation of 9,748 feet, the view of the Colorado Front Range and Pike National Forest extends 360 degrees.


I finally made the hike in 2012, Devils Head Lookout’s centennial year. A warm July day found me, my husband Mark, and our two daughters (9 and 6 at the time) heading up the two-and-a-half-mile trail. Pine trees and aspens shaded much of the hike, providing a welcome relief from the hot, sunny sections. Mostly moderate, the trail had a few steep sections, some with steps to help with the hike. We shared the trail with other hikers, many moving faster than we were. But we were in no hurry. We paused to appreciate the wonderful views and interesting rock formations. We investigated some plants that we had not seen before. We enjoyed birdsong.

When we reached the meadow at the top of the trail, with its cabin for the ranger, we ate a picnic lunch that we brought then rested before the final push up the 143 stairs to the fire lookout tower. That was the roughest part of the hike. But the view was worth it – the mountains and sky going on forever. These are some of the wonderful things we love about the Colorado Rockies.

Inside the lookout tower, cards decorated the walls, detailing special achievements of those who made it there: oldest person to make the hike, youngest, someone who had hiked there the most times. A host of others as well, all representing someone’s grand adventure. Although I had nothing I wanted to add to that wall of achievements, I still felt a sense of accomplishment there at 9,748 feet. I got to experience something that had been important enough to my mom that she reminisced about it often, even years later. And now I could, too.

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One of the many interesting rock formations along the 1.4-mile long trail, which is located south-southwest of Sedalia in Douglas County.


I received The Ancient and Honorable Order of Squirrels membership card for climbing to the Devils Head Lookout Station.



Article and photos by Susan Helton



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