The hike to Devil's Head Fire Lookout is short and enticing, and it is certainly worth the effort to climb 950 feet and 143 steps in 1.4 miles. The steep trail takes visitors to the last active fire lookout of the seven original lookouts in the Front Range. The start of the hike takes you through a tree graveyard where a tornado left it's mark on the area in 2015. You'll enjoy the shade from aspens and pines for most of the trail once you've passed the fallen trees. Along the way you'll find a few rest spots to catch your breath or take a photo break. As you near the granite outcropping that is home to the lookout you'll find a small cabin where the Forest Service employee who mans the lookout lives with his wife; you'll also find vault toilets should you need them. There is no water available, so be sure to pack plenty before leaving the car.
At this point you'll make your way up the 143 stairs to the active lookout. If it's a busy summer weekend, you may find yourself waiting in line as only 10 people are allowed up at a time. The lookout is manned from mid-May through mid-September. At the time of writing, Bill Ellis and his wife had been manning the lookout for over 25 years. A chat with Mr. Ellis and the incredible 360-degree views from the top make the trip worth it. On a clear day you can see all the way to Longs Peak to the north and Pike's Peak to the south. This is the only active fire lookout in Colorado, and is over 100 years old.
Be aware of the weather. This is one of the highest points in the area, and the Front Range is prone to lightening strikes that make this a potentially dangerous hike if the weather is bad. If you visit after a storm, you just may see the lookout in action as lighting strikes are one of the main causes of wildfires in Colorado. Also, Rampart Range Road is closed December 1 to about April 1 each year. You can call the South Platte Ranger District at 303.275.5610 for the current conditions. If you'd like to stay the night in the area, there a number of designated campsites along Rampart Range Road and a small campground at Devil's Head Trailhead.