Pike National Forest
Date Hiked: Nov. 12, 2012
Distance: 8 miles (RT)
Elevation Gain: 800ft
Elevation Min/Max: 6,477ft to 7,154ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 39.241484 N; 105.265702 W
U.S. Forest Service Cheesman Canyon Website
Cheesman Canyon Trail Map
Directions: From Denver, take 285 S. to Pine Junction and turn left (south) onto Pine Valley Road (126). Take 126 south through the historic town of Pine. This becomes Deckers Rd (126). Take Deckers Rd south to the trailhead and parking area off to the right.
This is a wonderful hike through a fascinating part of Colorado's Front Range. The mountains are replaced by rock formations, sandstone canyons, and burn areas. However, I screwed up this hike when I did it. Do not follow my google map exactly, the key for this description tells you what not to do and how to do it properly.
The trail starts by following the Gill trail along the slopes of Cheesman Canyon. The trail is hard to find in some places so be careful. After you've traversed most of the canyon, you need to look to the right (upslope) for the trail junction. I missed this trail junction when I hiked the canyon. The key is, do not go all the way to the dam. A few hundred yards before the dam, there is a faint trail that goes upslope away from the Canyon. You want to take this trail, which will climb over the mountain and deposit you on the other side where you hike along the dirt road back to the trailhead.
If you go all the way, like I did, you get to a service road, stating no trespassing. Cheesman Reservoir is off limits to the public and if you disregard these signs (as I did) you will wind up enclosed by fences and gates. It was really embarrassing as I got stopped by an official in a pickup truck. I told him my situation and he allowed be to hike out, of course once I got to the fence and the gate, I had to crawl under the fence near a ditch to get out. You need to avoid this situation at all costs, if you can't find the proper trail, go back through the canyon, don't get stuck behind the gates!