Bull Hill

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Bull Hill from Black Cloud Gulch, Sawatch Range.

A few weekends ago Anna-Lisa and I decided to head down to the Sawatch for a quick bag of Bicentennial peak Bull Hill A. This “hill” measures in at 13,761 feet tall, which makes it the 123rd highest ranked peak in Colorado. Because its direct neighbor to the north happens to be the tallest peak in the state (Mt. Elbert), Bull Hill is easily overshadowed (and often overlooked). The flip side of that coin is even if you go for this peak on a summer weekend, you’ll likely have it all to yourself. And because it resides in the middle of a sea of Sawatch giants, the views from the top do not disappoint. With flowers blooming, clear weather, and a dry landscape, Anna-Lisa and I were confident it would make for a beautiful and straightforward hike.

Tundra hopping above tree line.

We set off around 5am and made our way up the trail into Black Cloud Gulch. The initial climb was quite a quad burner for us as the trail gains elevation quickly right out of the gate. After crossing over Black Cloud Creek twice, we popped out above treeline and hiked across open tundra to the northwest (the Black Cloud Trail itself eventually leads to the summit of Elbert, not Bull Hill, so we knew we’d be leaving the trail and forging our own route for a portion of the ascent). We wound our way through the willows and then began the ascent of the peak proper, which entailed nothing more than class 1 and 2 hiking up to the summit block.

A little bit of scrambling was required to gain the actual summit. That’s Mt. Elbert in the background, looking a lot closer than it really is.

Anna-Lisa enjoying good weather on a scenic summit. La Plata Peak, which she hiked a year ago, can be seen in the distance.

The (relatively) modest position from Bull Hill’s summit grants great views of the French Group to the northwest, Elbert to the northeast, and La Plata, Sayres, and Rinker Peak to the south. We stayed for a long while and enjoyed a nearly windless day at 13,000 feet in the Colorado Rockies. I had fun pointing out all the peaks I could identify to Anna-Lisa, who seemed content to just sit and take it all in. It’s not all that often we get to truly relax and enjoy a summit together.

The French group to the northwest (Casco, Frasco, and French left to right).

We chose to descend Bull Hill’s long but gentle Southeast Ridge. After finding a decent spot to drop down, we made our way through the woods and found the Black Cloud trail just inside tree line.

Heading down the gentle ridge with Black Cloud Gulch to our northeast.

Blooming vegetation and a blue sky – a nice color contrast.

Lower down on the ridge we came across the Fidelity Mine ruins.

As we hiked down the trail we relished in the fact that we are able to get away to wonderful places like these so easily, even if it’s just for a day. Peaks like Bull Hill are also a testament to the fact that solitude can still be found in Colorado if one knows where to look. I can’t see the Bicentennials getting all that crowded in my lifetime, however US 285 on the way home, well that’s a different story.

A burger at the Hungry Moose Caboose punctuated 285 traffic quite well.

Cheers and thank for reading!

6 thoughts on “Bull Hill

  1. Dillon

    Nice shorty TR, Goats! It really is amazing how much snow can melt in 7 weeks! Minus the gaper migratory pattern on the south slopes of Elbert, that area north of 82 sure is a hidden gem. And Anna-Lisa is killing it this summer. Nice job Al!! (She’ll never read this, haha). Big props to you for killing it this summer too man! That Moose Caboose pic is a framer. Maybe they’ll give you a free meal if you show em the blog. Nah probably not 🙂 Fine trip and sweet report as always buddy!

    1. Ben Post author

      Thanks buddy! Agreed on all counts. 82 sure is a nice area, I hope we’re able to find a campsite down there in a few weeks. I hear they’re hard to come by these days.
      Free or not, you gotta try the Caboose at some point. They’ve got some amazing burgers. Cheers!

    1. Ben Post author

      Thanks Brandon! I like that we’re still referred to as “young” :). Hopefully that lasts at least a few more years! Have a great time this upcoming weekend man.

  2. Floyd

    Looks like an excellent day out with your better half. Al showed she’s quite the aspiring mountaineer on Richtofen and she seems to be putting that drive to good use. I’m jealous that you guys have had a chance to share the last couple of trips. My hopes of my wife joining me on more trips fade more and more each time we get to the mountains. Good thing I’m raising at least one partner!

    1. Ben Post author

      For sure Scot, she’s been pumped about getting out there this year and she’s faster than I was when I first started hiking. It’s been awesome! Looks like you’re well on your way to having a well-rounded, solid partner in your immediate family too. And she’ll have good knowledge of RMNP to boot :).


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