Traveling along West Chicago Creek for the first mile, the Hell’s Hole Trail trail climbs at a steady pace through a large grove of aspen trees and then ultimately up to Hell’s Hole. Winter, spring, summer, or fall, this is a classic Colorado hike.
Trailhead: Hell’s Hole Trailhead
Activities: Hiking, Skiing, and Snowshoeing (plus camping at West Chicago Creek Campground)
Permit Info: A mandatory free self-issuing permit is required for the Mount Evans Wilderness Area. Free permits are available at each trailhead or entry point into the wilderness.
Closest City / Town: Idaho Springs, Colorado
- From I-70 in Idaho Springs, get off on Highway 103 and head south.
- 5 miles south of Idaho Springs on Highway 103, take the West Chicago Creek Road (located just before the first large switchback on 103) for three miles.
- The trailhead starts where the road ends at the West Chicago Creek Campground.
- Walk through the West Chicago Creek Picnic Area to begin your adventure.
Hiking Distances: 8.0 miles (roundtrip)
Description: The Hell’s Hole Trail is a great hiking opportunity in the Mount Evans Wilderness Area. The trailhead is located at 9,500′; the final destination is at 11,200′.
From the trailhead, travel along West Chicago Creek for approximately 1 mile. The trail quickly gains elevation as it skirts through a large grove of aspen trees. As you can imagine, this part of the Hell’s Hole Trail is absolutely stunning in the fall! The sight of buffalo gold, squeezed orange, and blood red shimmering leaves igniting the mountainsides will electrify your soul.
The second and third miles are rocky but less steep. The last mile can sometimes be a little tough to navigate – so watch carefully for the trail. The trail’s terminus is at Hell’s Hole, which is about 4 miles in.
Hell’s Hole is an exquisite, expansive cirque. Don’t forget to bring and enjoy lunch in the sprawling meadow that rests at the base of Gray Wolf Mountain. This is a perfect place to pull out your camera!
Return to the trailhead the same way you came.
Worth Noting: Snowshoeing the Hell’s Hole Trail in the winter provides a greater sense of solitude than hiking it in the summer. Due to the trail’s close proximity to one of the best known campgrounds in Colorado – West Chicago Creek Campground – it receives some heavy traffic during the warmer months of the year.