This weekend we stopped by Mushroom Rock State Park in Ellsworth County. These odd-looking rock formations are similar to the ones in Minneapolis, Kansas.
I took the hike up to Devil's Head Outlook, which is a very popular Colorado trail. About 40,000 people visit the Lookout station each year. The trail is about 1.5 miles to the top with an elevation gain of almost 1,000 feet. Here are some links if you are interested in checking out Devils Head: Alltrails / US Forest Service / Day Hikes Near Denver / Wikipedia
DEVIL'S HEAD TRAIL
DEVIL'S HEAD LOOKOUT
I eventually reached the top of the mountain. The Forest Ranger and his wife live in a house at the base of the rock. The final ascent in the hike are the 143-steps on the metal stairs that lead to the Outlook. Inside the station is Forest Ranger Bill Ellis, and at 85 years young, he is the steward of the surrounding forest (80 miles in any direction). He has worked there for over thirty years, and during that time has spotted 78 fires. His notes adorn the insides of the shack as a testament to his time and service. He uses the Osborne Fire-Finder (a giant compass) to triangulate where fires are located.
After thanking him for his willingness to answer my questions, I headed back down the metal steps. The hike down was enjoyable and didn't take long at all. I'm looking forward to the next time I return.
TORNADO BLOW DOWN (2015)
At the beginning of the trail, there is a section of trees that was blown down by an EF1 tornado in 2015. The signs advise to stay on the trail and not to explore in this area specifically as it is unstable.
As you go up the trail, there are benches along the way to stop and take a rest. There were quite a few mushrooms along the side of the path. I even found some Amanita Mascaria (Fly Agaric), the quintessential Smurf mushroom.
AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER
At one point in my hike, I stopped because I heard a noise. It was a woodpecker on a nearby tree. I was able to get one decent photo of him, and after reading online, I believe this is an American Three-Toed Woodpecker.
My random thoughts & ideas