The long ridge line of Pole Mountain slopes several miles from the summit toward Cheyenne ending in a distinct point, Point Crawford. From there it cascades down to ever smaller points until the mountain is finished.
Long ago a walking trail was made leading up to Point Crawford along the gentlest route, rounding these points. That trail still exists, yet it is unmarked and unmapped. Its entry is a hidden secret.
The trail to Point Crawford and beyond to points further north quietly awaits your discovery.
It ascends through ever shifting small landscapes, sage and aspen, pine shadows, rocky outcrops, dry meadows and wet. Windows open to big, ever growing views: Turtle Rock and the Twin Peaks, distant Longs Peak, the mighty Mummy Range, the Medicine Bows and the Snowy Range. There are signs of deer, elk, coyote, and if you walk far enough, Moose. Frogs call in the moist dusk.
Personally, I like a route nearly lost to time. It keeps me alert–for the next rock cairn, the subtle wear of tread, limbs cut for passage, logs and sticks carefully placed by forgotten hands to form a curb, keeping me to the path. I like it when it works, when there is no piece missing. And this one works.
Directions to the hidden entry
Take I-80 west of Cheyenne, WY, to the Vedauwoo exit. At the end of the exit ramp turn left away from Vedauwoo, under the freeway, then right on the service road. A couple of miles later take the first right under the freeway, Forest Service 705, Blair-Wallis Road. Stay on FS 705 past FS 707, Headquarters Road.
One tenth of a mile before you reach Wallis Picnic Ground is a brown fiberglass stake on the right. Cryptically it simply says “Motorized Route Ends.” (I noticed this summer that the sign is now broken off and laying on the ground.) This is the Point Crawford Trailhead. Park off the road.
As you stand facing the stake looking into the woods you’ll see a post topped with a faded yellow sign. That’s the way.
Onward to Point Crawford
The trail starts with a steep up-hill challenge guaranteed to get your heart pumping. It wraps around a natural rock fortress with a clear tread and a few simple cairns marking the way. You’ll come to the first fence–barb wire. Don’t cross it but take the trail to the left.
You’ll reach this fence again but here it is a wooden cross-tree model beginning to fall down. Again, continue to the left without crossing it, passing by another rocky top to your left.
For the third time the trail comes to the fence. Here, in an open saddle, the wooden center portion has been torn out and repaired with barbed wire. Follow the lane made by logs on the ground to the end of the wooden fence. This one you do cross, climbing over the old wooden rail. Look ahead for cairns that guide you past a fire ring. The tread is faint but cairns will lead you across the opening and to the left. The tread re-emerges for another steep uphill push. The trail is badly eroded.
Shortly before the trail’s high point is a tall cairn followed by a second cairn. If you want to go to the top of Point Crawford leave the trail here making your way to the rocky top to the right, a 670 foot elevation gain from the trail head. (GPS UTM 13 T 0467026 / 4562063)
Beyond to the weird and wonderful
The trail continues long beyond Point Crawford, calling you onward as time and energy permit, following the edge of the mountain, west of the well-known Headquarters Trail. After climbing a little from the two cairn passage to the Point the trail drops into the trees. Those who maintained the path years ago often marked it by laying long logs along both sides, creating a lane. Keep an eye out for these particularly where the way may be confusing.
In the saddle beyond Point Crawford stands a strange iron framework, carefully built for some mysterious purpose. An animal trap? (GPS UTM 13 T 0466979 / 4562189) Up on the top of the next hill is an open area where piles a branches and logs have been place. (GPS UTM 13 T 0466824 / 4562782)
Continuing along, hikers are lead to two wet meadows. Both are frequented by moose. The second contains another framework, a tall teepee of poles, probably a hunters’ blind, hidden in a glorious grove of aspen. (GPS UTM 13 T 0460014 / 4564080)
Turning left on a faint trail just beyond the teepee leads to the Beehive, a rock wall heavily used by technical climbers, and on to FS 705JA.
Where does the Point Crawford trail end? I don’t know. I’ve have always run out of time before I ran out of trail. Maybe you’ll discover it. If you do, let me know.
Some parking is available along the road or there is a large parking lot at the Wallis Picnic Ground, a fee area. There is no drinking water available. A toilet is near the trailhead at the Wallis Picnic Ground.