Bull Mountain is part of the Park Range of the Rocky Mountains, just west of the continental divide. It is located within the State Forest State Park, a popular place for hunters, fishermen and ATV activities. The park is also a good starting point to climb SOTA WØ/PR-001, Clark Peak - 3940 M / 12951 ft.
I parked the car at the North Michigan Reservoir and hiked up the 4WD road into the forest (one of two options to get to the summit).
Trailhead: 8945 ft / 2726 m
Summit: 9708 ft / 2959 m
Elev. gain: 763 ft / 233 m
Roundtrip: 3.1 mi / 5.2 km
How to get there:
Driving on CO14 (driving west coming from Fort Collins or east from Walden) take CO41 (going east) for about half a mile until you hit the State Park entrance toll booth. Continue on CO41 (dirt road). It will split soon after – take the left arm of CO41 until the about the middle of the reservoir. There is a big parking lot with some larger group cabins on the lake shore.
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State Forest State Park requires an entry fee [$8]. It is NOT allowed to swim in the reservoir (bummer, no way to freshen up after the hike). Staff was unable to explain the reasons to me.
As far as I know, there are two options . There is the 4WD road I took from the Reservoir and there is a hiking trail approaching Bull Mountain from the North. Since my allotted time for this one was limited, I did not want to continue for another 20-30 minutes on the dirt road to get to the hiking trail.
I encountered two ATVs during my hike through heavily forested area; the trail does not have any outlooks or other scenic features. The entire area is suffering from a bark beetle infestation with tons of dead trees – a very sad sight. When paying the entrance fee, you will get a crude map of the area. Despite the lack of details it was easy to determine which 4WD road to take on the three intersections. It’s a very gradual climb with no challenges.
It is not easy to determine the highest point. There is no rock outcrop or any other prominent feature at the top – it is just heavily forested. There is however an old abandoned 4WD road going off to your right.
I was lucky and followed the general direction and arrived at the summit after about 100-200 yards (verified by GPS). A little frustrated about the non-scenic location I set up my equipment and started to call CQ…. it was hot, mosquitoes and flies were plentiful with nothing to do but buzzing me. Propagation was pretty bad too and I did not hear a soul on 20m SSB. Finally, after 50 minutes I got my fourth required QSO with WB9WHQ (thanks Dan). I packed up my gear and ran down the mountain to the car – happy to leave this summit.
If you are in for an outdoor experience I suggest you skip on this one. It was probably the dullest hike I ever took (except for hitchhiking on an Interstate). I am certainly glad I did not drive all the way out there just for this activation. If you are out for just the SOTA points, this one gives you easy points (if you can live with the mosquitos/flies/heat).
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