Hike – Devils Head Fire Lookout (Moderate / Hard)

The Devil’s Head Lookout is the last of the seven original Front Range Lookout towers still in service. It t is 101 years old and listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The trail is 1.4 mile long and takes about 45 to 90 minutes, one way. There are 143 steps to get to the actual fire lookout, once you’re there, the lookout is at 9,748 feet elevation.

IMG_6695Trail Facts:

  • Built in 1912
  • Devil’s Head employed the first female fire lookout in the nation — Helen Dowe, who started in 1919
  • In 1991, the site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places
  • It receives 15,000+ visitors annually
  • The oldest hiker was 94 years old
  • The youngest hiker was 12 days old


Meet Bill Ellis…


Bill Ellis is 82 years old and has been scanning the horizon through binoculars every 15 minutes for the last 30 seasons. He has reported many fires, most that are not well known because he alerted firefighters before the flames grew into something worse. In 1996 he reported Buffalo Creek fire that traveled 10 miles in one afternoon and became the devastating Hayman fire and burned 138,000 acres.

He and his wife live in a small cabin at the foot of the tower stairs from May to October. They must hike down the trail once a week, driving to Sedalia or Castle Rock for supplies, then filling their backpacks and heading back up the hill. Even with that said Bill Ellis stated he will continue to man the tower, “as long as I can walk the trail and carry a pack, and my eyes hold out.”

Once, Ellis was hurrying from his cabin to the tower when lightning struck the staircase and the metal rails flared like fireworks. Ellis, hugging his elbows so he didn’t touch the rails, avoided a direct hit. During lightning storms, lightning is a serious threat on the exposed tower.

Bill Ellis has nine children, all who have run to and from the tower, one with 17 minutes as the fastest time.


Some data provided by the Denver Post

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