Colorado, Hiking, Microadventures, United States, Waterfalls

Colorado Explored: Disappointment Falls & Deadman Fire Lookout

October 21, 2022

What to do, what to do on a Friday off from work? I debated weather – mostly wind – forecasts and went to bed with no plan. I originally wanted to explore the Thunder Pass area with a possible summit of Lulu Mountain, but the wind meant being above tree line would suck. When the alarm went off, I debated what to do, and then decided to try a little hike in the Red Feather Lakes area. I gathered up my pack and some snacks, and set out for the Lady Moon Trailhead.

I cannot say that I have explored the Red Feather Lakes area at all, though it is not far from Cheyenne. As time goes on, I am always surprised at what I can find closer to home. Today’s hike choice would be the quick jaunt to Disappointment Falls, a small cascade on Elkhorn Creek. I’m never really disappointed by a waterfall, so this seemed like a great choice, and I would stay more protected from the crazy high winds.

The Lady Moon Trailhead is well marked and is across the road from the Mount Margaret Trailhead

Only a handful of cars were in the parking lot when I arrived, and I quickly set out on Lady Moon Trail. The fall colors were mostly done for as the scenery reflected the browns of late fall. The trail is wide and maintained, though I was alarmed to find myself slightly descending (I hate hikes that end up on an uphill!). Everyone I passed was on mountain bikes, which reminded me I could’ve made this a really short day out, ha!

Obligatory trailhead sign
Starting out on Lady Moon Trail. Most of the leaves had dropped their leaves, but I bet this is beautiful earlier in the fall!
Wide open views
I found some fall colors holding on!
Losing some elevation
Drala Mountain Center in the background
I loved the views of the mountains!

Just shy of three miles in, I arrived at Disappointment Falls. I was not disappointed at all! Yes, this is a small waterfall, but I found it charming nonetheless. I took a few minutes to eat a snack and snap some photos before heading back to the car… uphill with a mighty crazy tailwind to my back.

Cut off to Disappointment Falls… once again a well marked intersection
Disappointment Falls!
I’m guessing the waterfall is a bit bigger in the spring and early summer months when run off is higher
Proof I was there, ha!
I walked a short bit up Elkhorn Creek behind the falls
Fall colors on the way back to the car

I hammered out the hike to Disappointment Falls in a smidge less than two hours. In comparison to most of my hikes, this was a nice, relaxing affair and I would venture to say this is a good choice for those seeking a hike on the easier side of things.

Since I was in the area, I decided journey to the Deadman Lookout, one of eight remaining fire lookouts on the Front Range of northern Colorado and southern Wyoming. Though the lookout was decommissioned in 1970, it is still staffed in the summer months for visitors and also houses communication equipment. I haven’t been one to seek out fire lookouts, but as I learned more about them this year, I found it fun to chase a bit of history, so I hope Deadman is the first in the line of exploring other ones in the region!

I left the pavement when I reached LCR86 (Deadman Road), and instantly was grateful I never acted on the wild idea to ride this on my bicycle as I steadily climbed in elevation. I soon was able to spot the lookout in the distance, on its perch at 10,700 feet in elevation. I marveled in scenery that was new to me, yet so close to where I live.

Looking at the tiny speck of Deadman Lookout in the distance
Sign along the road commemorating the Killpecker Fire in 1978

Aside from Google Maps trying to tell me to drive up something that is not a road (see photo above), it was a smooth trip to the lookout, with a large sign marking the turn onto FR170. Skirting tree line, I cannot begin to express how insane the wind was, with gusts easily north of 50mph when I stepped out of the car. The lookout was not staffed, but the stairs were open. I decided I’d try going up to the top, but after two flights I was too scared by the wind to continue on (and I almost lost my Crocs a few times). Photos were quickly taken and I retreated back into the car.

Dear Google Maps, this is not a road, is covered in trees, and is not Subaru-able
Turn off to the lookout, which is well signed
Deadman Lookout perched at 10,700 feet
The view north in Wyoming from a few flights up on the lookout
View to the south and soutwest as I was leaving, giving me ideas of how I need to explore those mountains

I backtracked on the same roads all the way home. Overall, this is a good way to kill my day off and see a few new things!

Details for the Disappointment Falls hike:
Date Hiked: October 21, 2022
Trailhead: Lady Moon
Total Mileage: 5.77 miles (Garmin Vivoactive 4s/Strava)
Elevation Gain: 692 feet
Time: 1 hour 53 minutes
Weather: Sunny but stupidly windy
Trail Conditions: Dry


2 thoughts on “Colorado Explored: Disappointment Falls & Deadman Fire Lookout”

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