I prefer hiking Colorado’s thirteeners (13,000-foot-peaks) to its fourteeners, because they’re less crowded with peak baggers, yet equally beautiful and often just as challenging. The Herman Gulch trail to The Citadel kicked my butt, and I loved every moment. I was surprised to discover such a wild and untamed jewel so close to I-70.
Many hikers stop at Herman Lake, below Pettingell Peak. But after that it keeps getting better, as the jagged towers of The Citadel appear. The eight-mile round-trip hike took longer than my husband Dale and I anticipated, so I only made it to a patch of high rock just below the twin summits. Even from there, I had a stunning view of the Continental Divide. I plan to return to conquer both peaks.
It’s easy to drive to the Herman Gulch Trail from the Denver area. Take I-70 West and get off at exit 218, the next exit after Bakerville. Bear right on the .1 mile service road, which dead-ends at the trailhead. Here’s what you’ll see when you hit the trail: