CO – THE Colorado Trail, Segment 8, Kokoma Pass (07/22)

This segment is 25.4 miles with 4,417′ ascent and 3,810 descent. Highlights include Camp Hale and the 10th Mountain Division, plus copper mining history. But for me the WOW views and flowers defined this section. I hiked the southwestern 13 miles in two sections; the northeastern 12 miles will need to await a future visit.

Highway 24 Crossing

I first hiked south to Tennessee Pass Trailhead and then north to Camp Hale Trailhead. This was a 14-mile 2,400′ elevation gain/loss round trip hike.

There’s a nice spot to park off the highway. The gate is the “trailhead.”

You almost immediately cross the train tracks. I couldn’t help but wonder if this track is still active.

These were the first engraved signs I’ve seen.

I wondered if this would be day I would get drenched. I was prepared!

With the recent rains, the ground and plants were saturated. I was thrilled to see all these blooms and thankfully the mosquitoes must have drown.

I’ve seen several coke ovens aka charcoal kilns over my years of traveling, many in better shape than these. “Coke ovens were used to convert the coal mined in the local area into industrial coke, a relatively clean-burning fuel used in the smelting of iron ore. In a process known as “coking,” coal was shoveled into an insolated beehive-shaped and ignited.” I was disappointed on my way back to find a hiker using it as a clothes line to dry out their gear.

This section also includes views of the Ski Cooper resort near Leadville and Tennessee Pass. Further northeast the trail passes through Copper Mountain resort.

This section provided the most “flat” walking since Waterton Canyon in Segment 1; in fact a portion was on an old railroad bed.

I finally found some monkshood blooming.

The meadow was filled with Three-Flowered Avens.

Asters filled the meadows as well. The mountains in the distance include Mount Massive and Mount Elbert.

10th Mountain Division is a memorial at Tennessee Pass.

Bunkers remain at Camp Hale, a training facility for the 10th Mountain Division. I sat out a rain shower and ate my lunch inside one.

There is plenty of evidence of the area’s history.

I noticed this cabin in the woods on my way to the Camp Hale Trailhead, so on my return to the Highway 24 crossing I couldn’t help but stop to explore. I wondered if this was used by the troops.

A happy sight!

Camp Hale Trailhead

I hiked northeast to the high point, Elk Ridge. This was a 13-mile, 2,900′ elevation gain/loss round trip hike. This was a challenging day for me so I was grateful for the rewards!

This was to be a WOW day with so many blooms and views. It started with these penstemon within a short distance of the trailhead.

Harebells I believe.

The first sunflowers I’ve seen. I bet soon the hillsides will be filled with glorious yellow blooms.

I found a few mariposa lilies hiding among the grasses.

Once I was above treeline I was greeted by this marmot.

Kokomo Pass is directly ahead.

It was super windy and chilly at the pass.

There were unique plants in the alpine tundra.

Sky Pilots
Forget-Me-Nots

Elk Ridge was a bloom fiesta.

Cool purple flowers lead the way to the Elk Ridge high point. I believe these are a type of phacelia.

At this viewpoint another marmot is sitting atop the rock pile. The turquoise colored lake is really a copper mining holding pond.

Mining has changed the landscape.

Back to happier thoughts.

The growling thunder signaled the end of my lollygagging time.

These baby alpine sunflowers were so cute. I later learned they are called Old-Man-Of-The-Mountain.

So many sky pilot blooms.

It was hard to say goodbye to the ridge but knowing I’d hike back up from the other side at some point made it a bit easier.

Soon enough it started hailing, thankfully as I was near treeline and could take shelter under a tree.

I loved the paintbrush color variations.

I couldn’t help admiring the mariposa lily another time on my way day down.

I believe these are a white or yellow paintbrush.

The first significant waterfall of my time on The Colorado Trail, Cataract Creek Falls.

Lovely rock features on the final miles back to Camp Hale Trailhead.

Colorado Trail Segments Hiked:

Tips:

  • The Guthook/Far Out App and Colorado Trail Association Guidebook and Databook are helpful in planning section hikes. The guidebooks details parking and trailhead options along with the elevation profile. Far Out was a great way to plan my turnaround based on mileage and elevation gain/loss. I also used Gaia with the Colorado Trail Nat Geo layer.
  • Leadville is nearby and is an excellent town for resupplying, doing laundry, grabbing a shower and using WiFi.

Resources:

8 thoughts on “CO – THE Colorado Trail, Segment 8, Kokoma Pass (07/22)

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