Kruger Rock (9,355′) | Hermit Park Open Space
Estes Park, CO | 04/05/19 | 3.57 miles | 974′ gain
Hermit Park Open Space was once a cattle ranch and later a private company retreat, but now is open to the public for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and camping. I had passed this open space numerous times on the way to Estes Park, but never made a point to visit due to the $9 entry fee. Recently, I’d heard of a hike/scramble called Kruger Rock and I finally decided to fork over the money to see what it’s all about.
I unexpectedly had a 4 day weekend and Kyle decided to work an extra day for overtime, so I had Friday all to myself! I wanted to get in a quick hike in the morning and settled on Kruger Rock. I left the dogs at home today since I wasn’t sure how much scrambling would be involved. They can do quite a bit, but certain moves are too difficult and I can’t lift a 60# dog up a boulder (or back down) so I decided to solo this one.
I arrived to the park around 10am, paid the $9 fee, and continued to the trailhead. Or what I thought was the trailhead. There are signs everywhere, but it seemed as if they were pointing towards everything except what I needed. (I probably just missed it honestly.) I pulled into a picnic area across the road from the sign for the Kruger Rock Trail. About the same moment I saw the CORRECT trailhead on the OTHER side of the road, I realized that I’d forgotten to put the memory card back in my camera so I was stuck with taking photos on my phone today (crap). So I put my camera away, moved my car, and eventually started down the Kruger Rock Trail.
Somehow I had the trail to myself. No one parked at the trailhead, no one hiking. Thank you Mother Nature! I enjoyed my solitude immensely and soaked up the sun, views, and listened to the birds singing. It’s spring!
The trail was a pretty steady incline the entire way. Just steep enough that you feel it in your calves but just flat enough that you think you can go 100 miles an hour. (Spoiler alert. You can’t! Well at least I can’t.)
The trail was so short (less than 4 miles) that I never really got tired or hit my “wall” so to speak. I cruised along with the occasional breather, but kept my sights on the summit.
I was worried about the scramble at the top not only because I was solo, but because there was more snow and ice on the trail than I expected. Would I even be able to do it?
Well I reached the base of the so called “crux” and asked myself “this is it?” Easy! I think that the above picture makes it look WAY worse than it really is. It was like a slippery boulder staircase, no biggie! The route takes you up the notch in the center, and then I climbed up to the left side since that seemed slightly higher. I did use my hands (ice is slippery FYI) but I think in the summer you could walk right up this.
The summit views were worth every bit of my precious $9. And I even saw a herd of deer on the way out!