Mike’s Hikes #3: Pilot Knob with Ben on July 27th

By Alaina Geibig 7 months agoNo Comments

Pilot Knob: Monday, July 27th

Overview: Meet at the WSCC office at 204 Poplar Ave. at 8:00 a.m. on Monday, July 27th. Join our very own volunteer trip leader and staff member, Ben Katz. 

The WSCC COVID-19 safe hike protocols will apply to this hike. Since we wear masks for other’s safety, please increase your fellow hiker’s comfort by wearing a mask.

The area offers exceptional views of the West Elks, Raggeds, and the North Fork Valley. Predominantly an aspen forest, some sagebrush and grass meadows exist throughout the area as well. Lynx, mule deer, and black bear all frequent the area, and it is a known winter range for elk and bald eagles. Suitable habitat exists for sensitive bird species including the northern goshawk, purple martin, flammulated owl, and the American marten. The area is a popular hunting spot in the fall.

Pilot Knob is threatened by both oil and gas drilling and coal mining. In 2013, a proposal was submitted to the Forest Service for 50 new gas wells on 25 well pads in this area, which would have devastating effects on the wildlife values of this landscape. Additionally, Pilot Knob is one of the roadless areas that was left open to coal mining in the Colorado Roadless Rule. Fortunately, earlier this year a federal court overturned the coal mining exception in the Colorado Roadless Rule, so we have a new chance to protect this place.

Trail Description: We will hike approximately 6 miles on this out-and-back trail. From our parking area, we will hike approximately three miles into the Springhouse Park/Thousand Acre Flats area. Elevation gain and loss will be minimal, around 500 ft total gain on this hike.

COVID-19 Protocols: Our community is still in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, and we will be following all necessary protocols to ensure a safe hike for everyone involved. The following restrictions will be followed at all times throughout the hike:

  • We will have no more than 10 people total on this hike. Please RSVP below.
  • Maintain a physical distance of at least 6 feet from members of other households at all times, except in cases where it is unsafe to maintain that distance. Social distancing (6 ft apart) will be followed at all times with hikers not of the same household
  • Separate cars must be taken to the trailhead
  • Masks must be worn when not actively hiking. Please bring a mask with you on this hike.
  • Hikers will all bring their own equipment, including water, hand sanitizer, and food/snacks. Please aquire all equipment and supplies you might need for the trip prior to arriving for the hike.
  • Do not come on the hike if you feel sick or have symptoms
  • We will follow all Safer at Home and Leave No Trace guidelines

Trip Leader: Ben Katz

Where: Pilot Knob

Difficulty: Moderate due to the 6-mile length and 500-ft elevation change.

When: Monday, July 27th. We will meet at the WSCC office (204 Poplar Ave.) at 8:00 am. We will need to take separate cars – one per family. The drive to the trailhead is roughly 40 minutes, and you can expect 3-4 hours of hiking.

What to bring: Good hiking boots, hiking poles, plenty of water, lunch/snacks, sun protection, and bug spray. 

How to get to the trailhead:

From Highway 133,  turn west on Forest Service Road #265, Buzzard Divide/Collbran. Follow that road west on FSR #265 for 11 miles to FSR #704. Turn south on FSR #704 for 5.3 miles to FSR #704.4A. Follow FSR #704.4A for 1.5 miles to the parking area.
UTM: 286120 E 4323540 N
Lat/Long: N 39 02 05 W -107 28 16
There isn’t a formal trailhead here, it is a two-track, lightly used road for a while, and eventually splits to form the Thousand Acre Flats trail and the Buck Mesa trail.


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