is located in the Lost Creek Wilderness
, a little less than an hour west of Colorado Springs. The pass is easily accessible from both its east and west ends, spanning the width of the wilderness area. The west end approaches are more accessible, but the eastern approach is more scenic.
Regardless of which end you approach from, the trail offers a varying landscape, with everything from creek crossings and fields of wildflowers to boulders the size of houses.
For the east end trailhead, take Park County Road 77 north from U.S. Highway 24 (just west of Lake George) for just over six miles and turn onto Forest Service Road 211. There’s no sign at the intersection so look for the large mailbox painted like an American flag. Continue on FSR 211 for approximately 10.5 miles to FSR 558 and turn left. The road ends after a mile at the Goose Creek trailhead parking lot.
The trailhead is at the west end of the lot. The trail drops steeply downhill and crosses Goose Creek where the trail splits. Turn left onto trail 630 to continue on to Hankins Pass.
You’ll cross Goose Creek several times on log bridges as it transitions between heavily wooded and open meadow environments. In early June, when I did this hike with a friend, the trail was a little soft due to late snow and a rainy May, but wasn’t impassable by any means, and the wildflowers were abundant, including wild irises and buttercups.
East of the summit we saw “fairy slipper orchids,” a somewhat rare wildflower, which generated some excitement and a lot of picture taking.
At less than five miles, the hike from the trailhead to the summit is an easy, gradual trek and shouldn’t pose a problem for many people. The pass summit is marked by a sign and is also the turn-off point for Lake Park trail 639. Continue west over Hankins Pass for approximately a mile and a half until the trail meets Lizard Rock trail 658 and Brookside trail 607, or turn back at the pass summit to the Goose Creek trailhead for a round trip hike of approximately nine and a quarter miles.
The majority of the Forest Service road from County Road 77 to the Goose Creek trailhead is all dirt and can be washboard-y in many places. If you’d rather not rattle your kidneys (or your cars suspension), you can hike this trail from the west side.
Instead of turning on to FSR 211, continue north on Country Road 77 to the Spruce Grove Campground, about 13 miles from Highway 24. Park in the dirt lot just outside the gate and walk into the campground, and turn right at the beginning of the loop road. The trailhead is approximately 700 feet from the parking lot, on the opposite side of the bridge behind the pit toilets. Cross the bridge over Tarryall Creek and make an immediate left, going under the large rock tunnel.
Continue north to an intersection (the sign was missing when I hiked there) and turn left and follow the trail until it enters the Lost Creek Wilderness Area, a little over two miles from the trailhead at the campground. A sign indicates trail 607 to the left but a right turn becomes the Hankins Pass trail, with the pass summit an easy-to-moderate climb through a wooded area for just under a mile and a half.
When I last visited the Lizard Rock in mid-June, the trail was closed at the Spruce Grove trailhead due to heavy flows on Tarryall Creek washing out part of the very beginning of the trail. But I expect this to be a temporary closure.
If you want to try yet a third approach for Hankins Pass (and why wouldn’t you?), continue on County Road 77 past the Spruce Grove Campground for approximately a mile and a half to the Twin Eagles Campground. Follow the road through the campground to the large parking area along the creek.
Trail 607, the Brookside-McCurdy Trail, starts at the bridge and continues in and out of the forest, giving great views to the north. When the trail splits, turn right and take the gentle uphill trail to meet the Lizard Rock and Hankins Pass trails, to get to the pass summit.
To get there: Take US Highway 24 from 31st Street in Colorado Springs for approximately 35 1/2 mile to County Road 77.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 23 years. He is the president of the Friends of Cheyenne Canon and a member of the El Paso County Parks Advisory Board. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: email@example.com.
With Red Rocks Canyon closed due to storm damage and the Air Force Academy locked down to non-DOD personnel, there’s no time like the present to try another