Length: 2.2 miles roundtrip
Difficulty: Moderate
Why we love it: It’s a great spring warm-up with excellent views.
When to go: Late spring through late fall, when the snow is gone from the trail
Pre-hike Buzz: Just after you exit I-25, stop by the locally owned Wesley Owens Coffee & Cafe for a “Shot in the Dark” espresso and smothered breakfast burritos.
Restrooms: None at the trailhead; the closest options are in Monument
Dogs: Allowed off leash

Mt. Herman has a distinctly wild feeling. Although it’s just a few miles outside the town of Monument, it is located in the heart of the rugged Pike-San Isabel National Forest and is a fort of steep drops and edges.

This hike ascends Mt. Herman’s southern side, a more gentle route (though still quite steep) which gains about 1,000 feet in 1.1 miles—a gradient typical of many Colorado fourteeners. Its lower elevation makes this trail a great spring warm-up route before heading up to the high country.

From the trailhead, the route initially parallels a small creek, before climbing through sun-dappled groves of tall Ponderosa pine and Doug Fir trees. Continue up this sometimes-gritty path to a saddle, where you can catch your breath while enjoying the first of many beautiful views.

From the saddle, turn left to head up the ridge along one of the many braided trails while keeping an eye out for a bright orange windsock to guide you towards the summit. It’s located on the ridge’s eastern side, which is steep enough for experienced paragliders to launch from.

The top is a great place to soak up some sun and the stunning views to the east, which range from Castle Rock to the Air Force Academy, where it’s easy to spot the Cadet Chapel’s soaring spires just north of the steep Rampart Range. Most noticeable, however, is the snow-capped summit of Pikes Peak, which rises above everything else.

Getting there: From Denver, take I-25 south to Exit 161, which is signed to CO-105. Briefly follow CO-105 north to 2nd Street; turn left here to follow it 0.7 miles to the junction with Mitchell Road. Turn left onto Mitchell and follow it about half a mile to Mt. Herman Road. Turn right and follow this road (which soon turns to dirt) for 5 miles to an unsigned trailhead on the right side of a left-bending curve, where there’s enough room for six to eight cars to park. The trail begins next to the small stream just to the left of the bullet-riddled ‘No Shooting’ sign.

Terri Cook
Terri Cook
Terri Cook is an award-winning freelance writer based in Boulder. More of her work can be found at down2earthscience.com.