Distance: 3.5 km
Elevation gain: 260 mView mapDownload GPS track
At only 3.5 km round trip this is a short and easy hike that is perfect for after work. Given the perpetual snowy weekends this spring and our tiredness with repeatedly hiking up Prairie Mountain
, this seemed like a great alternative. With a fire pit at the top it also made for a great picnic.
There is a complex network of trails in this area, many leading to the summit, but the one we followed was the most direct and started a few hundred meters north of the Mesa Butte equestrian area at a short access road to a gas well. Follow this road for a very short distance, then turn onto a trail to the left just before reaching the fenced well. It's impossible to miss. Ascend briefly, then emerge into a regrowth area littered with gun shells, targets and other assorted garbage identifying the hunters as being of the douchebag variety. This is only a very short section of the trail, however, and it is soon nice again.
On this day the trail was snow covered, and coupled with game trails and a few other branches I decided to simply rely on a GPS track I had to navigate. In patches where the snow had melted there were bits of well used trail present however, so I doubt navigation would be at all problematic a week from now.
The views from the top are decent for such a short hike and ample wildlife (we saw many mule deer, a couple partridge, and potentially wild horses) make this a nice outing. If you're competent with campfires, the fire pit at the top is a nice addition as well. Just be certain it's out when you leave (there is no water, so either bring some or use snow).