On our second day in Colorado, July 31, 2020, Steve went golfing so I decided to go on a solo hike to Rattlesnake Gulch Trail in Colorado. I googled trails close to me and liked the name of this one so off I went.
Rattlesnake Gulch Trail is in the Eldorado Canyon State Park area near Boulder. This area is popular for both hiking and climbing and usually experiences heavy use. This trail is an out and back trail with a loop in the middle. I tracked it on my Fitbit at 3.7 miles. The trail is a loose rock and dirt trail that I did not find hard to hike on. I would say on the day I went there was moderate use of the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, parking was a bit slim though and I nabbed one of the last spots at 8:30 am. There is a vehicle fee here of $10.
The Trailhead for Rattlesnake Gulch is shared with the Fowler Trail. The Rattlesnake Gulch Trail was once a wagon road called Crags Boulevard. Around the turn of the century, Crags Boulevard was one of the ways a wealthy tourist could travel to the swanky Crags Hotel. Crags Hotel was burned down in 1912 and the ruins can still be seen today. I will discuss the hotel and ruins later in this post.
Just about a tenth of a mile after you start on the trailhead you will come to Fowler Junction. To follow Rattlesnake Gulch, continue to the right and up and continue straight to follow the Fowler Trail.
There was a lot of ascending on this trail but it wasn’t to terribly tough. After about a third of a mile, I came to another junction and to the right was a wooden bridge and the trail continued to the left. There was no marking so I wasn’t quite sure which way to go. I had looked at the map at the trailhead and was pretty sure it looped to the right. Luckily at just the right time another couple crossed the bridge and they assured me that crossing the bridge would keep me on the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail.
Once over the bridge, I continued up towards the Crags hotel which was about a mile and a quarter.
The Crags Hotel was built in 1908 and demolished by fire of unknown origin in 1912. This luxury hotel overlooked the scenic area and only a few ruins are left of it today. You could reach the hotel three different ways. First by a wagon road called the Crags Boulevard, it currently is the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail! You could also reach this hotel by railroad, you can see the tracks above this area and trains still use it today. In addition, you could visit the hotel by a funicular which is a tram type railway up the mountain.
Continental Divide View
I Followed the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail to the continental divide as it continued steadily upward and was rewarded with a great view of Colorado. The view was beautiful and there were benches to sit on with ample amount of space to unwind and enjoy the view.
The Path Less Traveled
Once done with the Continental Divide it appeared as if most, if not all the hikers I had passed continued down the way they came up. I wanted to go a bit further and follow the entire loop. There was another junction with a sign and map and I verified that if I followed the loop up it would take me back to the Hotel site. Good choice, the loop was less than a mile and gave me more views of the area. This trail led up to just about the train tracks and then looped back to the hotel site. I only passed 3 other people coming down the trail in this area. You could tell the trail was less traveled here because it was more narrow and less worn.
Back to the Trailhead
Once back at the hotel site, I followed the trail back to the trailhead. Even though it was late morning the trail was still only moderately traveled. When I arrived at the Fowler Junction I thought of continuing on but decided against it since Steve and I were doing a big hike the next day.
This is another trail I enjoyed! The scenery was beautiful and it wasn’t a difficult trail. The added bonus of discovering the Crags Hotel Ruins and the story behind it was my kind of fun! Also the unexpected view of the Continental Divide just added to the excitement of this trail. I definitely recommend the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail when in Colorado if you are looking for a relatively short and easy to moderate trail with a good path and lots to see.
Colorado Chelsea, Hikes and Travels in Colorado and Beyond is a great resource for hiking in Colorado. Chelsea lives in Colorado and has blogged about her many different hikes giving great information on each.
All Trails. All trails is a hiking App that gives information on most every hike known. You can use this app to get an idea of where or what type of hike you want to do. Directions are available as well.