Peak(s):  Thunder Butte - 9,836 feet
Date Posted:  03/15/2009
Date Climbed:   03/15/2009
Author:  JasonF

 Thunder Butte - Hayman Burn Zone revisited  

Party: Jason solo
Start: 12:50 PM
Summit: 1:50PM
Start Descent: 2:10 PM
TH: 3:20 PM

I've been wanting to hit Thunder Butte for some time but something always came up to keep me from visiting this still scenic (even with the burn) area. Having worked my tail off the last few weeks (and week ends) our family was ready to get away from the house and do some exploring. It‘s been 3-4 years since we last drove through this area. With our two littlest kiddos now more appeciative of what‘s going on in the world it was also a great opportunity to show them the destructive force of a forest fire, teach them about the awesome responsibility God has given us to protect/respect his Creation and show them that you can still enjoy nature in the middle of destruction. It also doesn't hurt to get ice cream snacks at the great pulloff country store in Deckers.

Back to the hike. I never found any designated trails – just game trails and faint semblances of trails. This even though there was plenty of signatures in the summit register. The only benefit of the forest fire to achieving this summit is that it makes for easier wayfinding. I could see major issues with finding your way back to the TH if this area was fully forested. I was able to use Signal Butte as a bearing point to the TH, although this landmark proves useless as you get closer to the TH due to topography. Still, I only came up a few hundred feet shy of hitting the mini van dead on at the TH. What's nice is that you have Sheeps Nose as a pretty constant bearing point to your left on the descent.

All in all a great hiking day and awesome opportunity to find some solitude and rest from the crazy, hectic world. Kiddos got to goof off, Momma got to read her book and Dad only focused on trying not to get lost and enjoy God‘s creation. Thanks for the restoration team that has done work in this area. It‘s still a very bleak landscape and makes me appreciate all the more the fragile world that we live in.

Pikes Peak in background; Sheep's Nose in foreground at right of center

Pikes Peak from summit; striking contrast in this pic between forested area and the Hayman burn zone

Signal Butte in view. Makes for a great bearing point from the TH where I parked (pull off parking area about 1.5 miles from intersection of Nine J Rd and CO 68.

SW view with Tarryall Mountains in foreground; what appears to be Mt Princeton poking up behind

USGS summit bench mark (elevation 9836')

Close up of Sheeps Nose

Town of Westcreek in middle of pic; Hwy 67 at left hand side of pic shown meandering off to Woodland Park

Thunder Butte from TH

Warning sign, typical of this area; strongly advise to not enter the burn zone during a downpour as there is still lack of erosion control measures in several spots

Rather comical sign given the present surroundings

Thumbnails for uploaded photos (click to open slideshow):

 Comments or Questions

There‘s green in them thar hills
03/16/2009 12:39
If you look closely enough... you‘ll be surprised by all the new growth in that area - already! Nice report, and really a very pretty peak. The reason for all the signatures on that register: Thunder Butte is the highest point in Douglas county, so it‘s on many peak-baggers‘ lists. Sheep Nose looks like a lot of fun - almost made it up that one (after Thunder Butte) last year, but the rain beat us to it!

Thanks for posting a report on an oft-visited, seldom reported peak in an area that‘s still flourishing, amidst the devastation. Nature is so cool...

Steve Knapp

Nice report
03/16/2009 16:25
Congrats on climbing Thunder Butte, it‘s an interesting hike. It‘s nice to go into the burn area now and then and see how they are recovering. I was on UN 8790 (another ranked peak north of Thunder Butte) on Saturday. I found tons of yucca plants, bushes, grasses, and even new aspen trees growing. No new pine trees that I could find, those probably take longer. There are also plenty of deer in the area, I guess they can find enough to eat even there.


03/17/2009 19:05
for the kuddos on the report. This area is very beautiful even with the burn. Susanjoypaul - you obviously know your county highpoints. That was my primary reason for hitting this peak. County highpoints do provide a great reason to explore out of the way places not ventured by 14er baggers.

Steve - pretty much the same plants were growing on Thunder Butte. Even in my limited hiking path I saw plenty of evidence that deer are in the area however we never did see any that day.

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