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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Cheers and thank for reading!