As you drive between C-470 and Colorado Springs, you can't miss Pikes Peak in the distance. However, you may have also noticed a mountain range between the two metro areas, just west of I-25 in Monument. The tallest peak there is Mount Herman at about 9,100 feet elevation.
There are several ways to hike Mount Herman. The two most popular ways are:
- Start at the "official" trailhead that has a sign that says Mount Herman Trailhead. However, the hike from this trailhead is about 11 miles or so roundtrip. Friends who've done that route said they had trouble finding the trail. Many people end up hiking the road.
- Drive Mount Herman Road until you get to a pull-off with a VERY SMALL sign for trail 716. That's the shortcut. From this spot, the hike is about 2.3 miles roundtrip. (Some trip reports says it's 4 miles RT, but my GPS registered 2.3 miles RT to the summit marker and back.) That's the route I chose (directions below).
The hike starts in a little parking lot/pulloff with room for about eight cars. A small trail marker says Trail 716. There's a little creek here and a trail that heads up a small hill.
And when I say up, I mean up. The trail gains 800+ feet in the next mile. Follow the trail along the creek to an open meadow. Here the trail switchbacks up to a saddle. This is where you get your first taste of just how steep the trail can be. Hike up the next hill, between the trees.
Eventually the trail disappears, but carins (rock piles) mark the way. The best advice, keep going up. When you need a break to catch your breath, just take a picture of the interesting rock formations along the way.
About 0.9 mile from the trailhead, the trail turns left. You can hike straight up to the top, but we followed the path left as it wound through the rock formations, then turned right for yet another steep climb to the top.
Just one mile from the trailhead, we were at the top enjoying the view. Make sure you look not just east over the Eastern Plains, but turn around for an incredible view of Pikes Peak.
After a break here, it's time to head for the real summit. Head back to the path you were on. The path continues north just slightly lower than the top of the ridge. About an 1/8 of a mile away, the trail ends back on top of the ridge. Below, you should see the take-off area for paragliders and a wind sock.
If you look in the rocks on the top of the ridge here, you should spot an ammo-type box with a summit register inside. Look closely on the large rocks in the trees just north of the ammo box and you should spot the summit marker. After you find that, you may want to hike down to the wind sock and read the sign warning paragliders that this is a dangerous flying zone due to the military aircraft in the area that can cause collisions and wake turbulence.
When you're done exploring, return the way you came.
If 2.3 miles isn't enough, there are several other nice hikes in the area including The Rock in Castle Rock, Palmer Lake Reservoirs, Spruce Mountain and more. Check out this list of 200+ hikes in Colorado for ideas. Don't miss any of my trip reports, sign for an email alert at the top of this page and follow me on Facebook.
Details: The hike to the summit marker, to the wind sock and back is about 2.3 miles with 940 feet of elevation gain.
Directions: From I-25, take exit 161/Monument. At the traffic signal turn left/west on 2nd Street. Drive 0.6 miles through Monument, cross the railroad tracks and come to a T-intersection with Mitchell Avenue. Turn left/south on Mitchell Avenue. Drive 0.7 miles south on Mitchell Avenue to the signed Mt. Herman Road. Turn right/west on Mt. Herman Road. Drive 4.9 miles on Mt. Herman Road to the parking area with the sign that says Trail 716. *Note, Mount Herman Road becomes dirt, then gets pretty rough. Expect large potholes and runoff ditches.