Today, I wanted to tackle a hike a bit more challenging than Jud Wiebe or Bear Creek Falls. It's been a couple of years since I've done the Liberty Bell - Sheridan Cross Cut loop, which I've always enjoyed for the dramatic views, the abundant wild flowers, and comparatively few other hikers.
This loop is actually a couple of hikes put together, and on the east side of the loop, it's fairly easy to lose the trail. Since I’ve done this hike a number of times, I chose to start up the east side, which shares the trail with the Sheridan Cross Cut hike, another beautiful hike. From the intersection of Oak Street and Tomboy Road, it’s about a 30 minute moderately-paced walk up Tomboy to get to the trailhead (GPS: 37.939276,-107.793704).
Within a few minutes of leaving the trailhead, I already lost the trail, but no worries – when you’ve lost your way, just head for the ridgeline. After a bit, I was back on the trail. The Sheridan trail fairly quickly turns towards the east, but to reach the Liberty Bell trail, you need to continue heading north. Again, the best guide is to follow trails that keep you close to the ridgeline. At times, the trail will be a bit west of the ridgeline and then switch to the east side. The incline is fairly intense and sometimes feels like 45 degrees.
As I hiked, I travelled through groves of Aspens, interspersed with open fields. As I gained in elevation, I moved into a forest of firs. While there were some wildflowers in bloom, I know from previous experience that the flowers will only get better. On the way up, I only passed two hikers.
The hike maxes out around 11,500 feet, which is roughly at treeline. The trail opens up to the Liberty Bell basin, a beautiful alpine meadow, which will soon be filled with flowers.
Once at the top, the trail becomes much more visible. The Liberty Bell side of the trail is an old mining road, so it’s wide and not as steep. That said, my knees were not fond of the decline. I like looking at the mine ruins found along the trail, and after a bit, the trail followed a creek down the mountain. Ultimately this side of the trail runs into the Jud Wiebe trail and connects back to Tomboy Road.
For me, a reasonably active 50-something-year-old guy, the entire hike took about 4 ½ hours. That included a lunch break and several picture-taking breaks.
While I loved the hike, I was happy to be done. The hot tub and relaxing in the hammock was a welcome reward. Perhaps, I’ll do Silver Lake next week.