Larimer County, Colorado
Roosevelt National Forest
Canyon Lakes Ranger District
View this on the Colorado Trailheads Map
Forest Service Roads: 122, 122.A, 247, 247.A, 247.B, 247.D
Trail Type: Network
Nearby Towns: Lyons, Estes Park
Nearby Trails: Johnny Park Road, Pierson Park Road, Hell Canyon Road
Trail Length: 6.1 miles
Elevation: 8,264 to 8,991 feet
This trail description is difficult to follow without the GPS track and map offered here. A fun time can still be had without them.
You can spend all day in this network of trails, exploring every hill and rock outcropping. There are many, many paths through Pole Hill and this overview only describes one of them. If you follow this path you will find most of the rocky sections in the uphill direction, giving you the right-of-way and the most challenges.
You only need to go a short way up the residential section of Pole Hill Road before you find yourself at the trailhead. There is enough room for quite a few vehicles to air down and disconnect sway bars, but it is right next to a house and leaving a towing vehicle here is not appropriate. The trailhead is at a seasonal gate.
Pole Hill is most fun if you do it in two big loops. There is a southeast loop and a northwest loop. The southeast loop has steep hills of rocks on forest service roads 247 and 122. The northwest loop climbs to the top of Pole Hill on 122A and goes through the Notch. This trail description goes through the southeast loop first.
The fun starts right away as you climb up a rocky hill. There are different lines you can take through these first rocks but none of them are easy. At the top of this long portion of rocks is an optional obstacle, a small loop that features a nice climb up a ledge. The main trail bypasses this obstacle, but it's a fun one.
Follow the well-traveled road after climbing the hill and cross over a cattle guard. You are on forest service road 122. The first intersection has forest service road 247A going to the right. This road connects back to the main trail but it is fairly uneventful. Skip 247A and continue a short way to the second intersection. Forest service road 247 starts on the right and 122 continues on the left. Take the right turn here to do the southeast loop. This loop is actually a big "figure 8."
Take 247 up a hill and around lots of wavy trail through trees. It isn't long before you intersect with 247C. This is a fun spur and best done in the clockwise direction, making a small loop at the end of the southeast loop. Turn left here at 247C and then continue straight to head up the hill you can see in front of you.
This hill on 247C is a blast. It's steep and has some whoopdeedoos and rocks that could be very challenging for a stock vehicle. Soon you are at the top and you get to the far end of the southeast loop when you are at a permanently locked gate. On the other side of this gate is a hiking trail up to Panorama Peak.
The downhill trail to finish up the loop is fairly easy as you switch back to 247, and soon you find yourself back at the intersection with 247C. Turn right to cover this small section again, and this time turn left on 122A.
This portion of the trail is pretty mellow, and there can be some water crossings. The water is usually very shallow if it is there at all.
Stay on 122A and you'll start heading uphill and you're on the northwest loop up to Pole Hill. This is another fun climb, though not as steep as the one on 247C.
At the top of the hill there is a great overlook with places to park many vehicles. It's a great place for lunch. Though there are a couple of right turns off of 122A this one is the only one large enough to park many vehicles. There is a wide area that is flat followed by a climb up a rocky section where you could park a few more vehicles. Continue walking past this part to an easy climb up some rocks. Here you are treated to a fantastic overlook.
When you continue around on 122A you will start downhill. You will also circle around The Notch, which is a big rock that offers some more great views. It also has part of the trail built up with a wooden walkway that used to be an observation platform. Do not drive on this platform! It is very unsafe. The dirt trail is wide enough for nearly any vehicle here. There is a small loop just past The Notch where you can park many vehicles if you'd like to take a closer look.
The rest of the northwest loop is fairly easy as the road changes to forest service road 122, and soon you come back to the intersection with 247. Continue out on 122 the way you came in.
Information last updated on July 8th, 2012.
- July 7, 2012: ran by Ben, Bill S., Julie, Matt K., Monica and Roger
- July 16, 2007: ran by Jed and Walt
- June 30, 2007: ran by Don, Ladd, Mike S., Monica, Roger and Todd
From Denver, go north on I-25 to Highway 66 to Longmont. Go through the north part of Longmont to Lyons where you will continue on Highway 36 toward Estes Park. Before Estes Park is Pole Hill Road, a residential area marked with a Meadowdale Hills sign. Take this road uphill to turn left to find the trailhead.
Note that you can also go through Boulder on Highway 36. This may or may not be faster depending on the time of day.
Meet at the Stone Cup in Lyons.