“A great hike to a lookout tower on Signal Peak that features a lush riparian corridor and forested singletrack.”
— D Roper
Birding · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife
This hike combines Little Cherry Creek Trail
, a section of the Continental Divide Trail, and the Signal Peak Trail #742
, with the option of returning the way you came, or dropping down the Signal Peak Trail to Highway 15 for an 11-mile point to point with a steep ending.
This hike begins at junction of Highway 15 and Little Cherry Creek Road just north of Pinos Altos. The first two miles follow this jeep road along Little Cherry Creek, and includes a perennial stream, riparian corridor, and rock formations. While vehicles are allowed the first two miles, it is better to leave your vehicle behind to enjoy the canyon.
After about two miles, the road switchbacks uphill to the left, while a trail continues along the creek for another mile or so and then ascends to the junction with the Continental Divide Trail, approximately 4 miles from the start. The last chance to find water is when you leave the creek and begin climbing. At the junction, turn left to go north on the CDT and ascend nice singletrack through the forest for about 3 miles to the junction with the Signal Peak Trail. There are good views along the way of the Twin Sisters.
Follow the Signal Peak Trail along a ridge line for about 1.5 miles to the USFS lookout tower. After enjoying the views, return the way you came. Another option is to descend the Signal Peak Trail down to Highway 15, but you'll need to plan ahead for a shuttle. This is a steep trail that descends over 2,000 feet in about 2.5 miles. Enjoy the hike—if you time it right you won't see anyone else along the way. There is cell phone reception once you get up higher.