Less Busy Little Half Dome
This hike can be done as a loop (IMO best option) or as a one-way out and back down Dome Rock Trail to the view point. approx. 4.5 miles each way. The Dome Rock trail follows and old stage coach road past the remains of Jack Rabbit Lodge(a large stone chimney)which was a private hunting cabin that burned to the ground in the 1940's. There are other buildings/mines along the way. One site reported it was rumored that Teddy Roosevelt stayed there during a hunting trip to Pikes Peak. Anyway, this is at the junction of the trail with the Cabin Creek trail which accesses Mueller State Park w/out the Fee.
This is all the farther you can go as it is closed between 12/1-7/15 annually because of Bighorn sheep lambing. It is restricted on the other side of the loop at the Spring Creek trail during the same dates which means plan accordingly. Dogs, campfires, camping and Rock Climbing w/ equipment are Prohibited
Following dome creek trail there are several stream crossings that cannot be done w/out getting wet. However, about 15 feet before each there are small use trails. Basically stay to the right and hug the base of the hills. I thought maybe they were a no no however, one had a sign that said no horses or Mtn. Bikes. It's a little strange because mountain bikes aren't allowed, but there is obvious maintenance to these trails although lightly used and I did not have to get my feet wet. I was happy about this since it was under 30 F the entire day. I read somewhere this used to be part of Mueller State Park.
The loop consists of dome rock trail connecting to spring creek #43 and later willow creek #40 and can be done in either direction. Dome rock trail follows the creek down past some beaver dams past Jack Rabbit Lodge to the view point. There are lots of interesting rock formations along the way. The return trip crosses the stream on spring creek trail. (hint go to the left and leap off the rock to make it across) or wade through. It climbs on the back side of dome rock through aspen forests. I saw orange tape to trees on a couple different sections. Ignore these if you want to summit dome rock. I got up to the beginnings of the aspen forest the trail follows and went up a ravine and ridge and believe this requires the least amount of bushwhacking. I coincidentally found orange flags generally leading to the spot where you can gain access to the summit. I did not find a register or a stamp and suspect any register was underneath the large square boulder which was not the high point. The views even with the low clouds obscuring Pikes Peak were amazing. There is a small crack that is doable, but on the way down I found the large crack to the right going up is much better probably up and down. I wouldn't do it when wet or icy.
Following spring creek back and then willow creek is basically a fall color extravaganza during the fall at the right time. It is an old road being reclaimed by the elements going through an aspen forest. I used only 40 ounces for the loop, but water is plentiful. Enjoy!
Check out the Official Route and Triplogs.
WARNING! Hiking and outdoor related sports can be dangerous. Be responsible and prepare for the trip. Study the area you are entering and plan accordingly. Dress for the current and unexpected weather changes. Take plenty of water. Never go alone. Make an itinerary with your plan(s), route(s), destination(s) and expected return time. Give your itinerary to trusted family and/or friends.