Having not been outdoors in what seems like forever, I finally made the decision last week to do some snowshoeing, and do something a little different and also knock an item off my Colorado bucket list if you will.
The Colorado bucket list item was to finally take a trip to Winter Park Resort on the ski train, known today as Amtrak’s Winter Park Express. The only train with a direct route to a ski resort in the country, it literally drops passengers off just feet from ski lifts. Pricing on the Winter Park Express range from $29 to $59 ($10 increments) each way. I was able to get my round trip for $68, ($29 going up and $39 on the return leg).
heading to the high country
arriving outside Winter Park
I had looked into other activities and saw that Winter Park had 2 hour snowshoeing tours as well as a number of trails that one could do on their own as well, if so inclined. I opted for one of the tours, which was scheduled to start at 10:30am. The Winter Park express leaves Denver’s Union Station promptly at 7am and pulls into Winter Park in just under 2 hours. This gave me plenty of time to look around the village while looking for the Winter Park Adventure & Supply company where I was to check in for my snowshoe tour, sign the necessary waiver and pick up my snowshoes. Still leaving me about 30 mins to carb up at the nearby Waffle Cabin (literally 2 storefronts over) with a sugar crusted Belgian style waffle, 2 pieces of bacon and a hot chocolate for less than $10, ask for the “village special”.
The snowshoe tours at Winter Park last 2 hours and with the right guide, you will cover a little more than 2 miles and learn about different aspects of the mountain along the way. The tour starts with you riding a lift up on the mountain. After you get off the lift your guide will show you how to put your snowshoes on and then you’ll be on your way. I was fortunate to be a part of a large group (17 people), very diverse and a lot of fun. Some as far away as Germany.
The tours range in price from $54(7 day advance reservation) to $59 (walk in) those are regular season pricing. Add $10 for peak season dates. Pricing includes your snowshoe rentals, the tour and an all day Gondola lift ticket.
I was recently in San Jose, California for a couple days and made the drive a little over an hour southwest to Big Basin Redwoods State Park, the oldest state park in California. There are several hiking trails and a couple are closed due to storm damage. I explored the Redwoods Loop Trail, which is only a half mile trail, but this was not about hiking for distance, but more to me about spending time with these awe-inspiring gentle giants.
I think seeing the Redwoods is probably on every persons wish list and I suggest if you ever get the chance, you should definitely do so! I’m so glad I made the decision to make my way to Big Basin, I will be back to explore other trails
I’m doing a bit of catching up, so bare with me.
Headed up to Berthoud Pass on this gorgeous July morning with the intent to shake things up and try a new trail and give it a go at Stanley Mountain Trail. In the beginning Stanley Mountain Trail is a very steep trail as you make your way above treeline. Once you get above treeline, you still have one more sizeable vertical climb ahead of you, luckily it switchbacks across the face, but still it’s not an easy attempt. Once atop of that then it’s basically flat until you get to final ascent to Stanley Mountain
There is always that one person
You next challenge once above treeline, look close you can see the switchbacks
Another view from the summit.
A view from on top
Though you cant see it in the photos, on top it was very windy, so we didnt stay long. Using the Map My Hike app, which I use on every hike we came in at 7.55 miles roundtrip, topping out Mt Stanley at 12485 feet.
Little did I know I was in for a bit of a surprise when hiking along the trail then suddenly about a little more than a mile in the wooded trail opens up to blue skies and lots of damage and debris. This landslide or washout was due to the immense saturation of rain the state received back in September of 2013 caused flooding throughout the state. I last hiked this trail only a couple months earlier. More on the Colorado flood here.
Crossing in the middle of the landslide, looking down at the damage.
From the trail a look at Meeker & Longs Peak.
A look up from where the land slide started
The trail does continue across the slide as the trail is visible and marked with little orange flags. Once you cross the area the trail then turns steeply on a makeshift social trail that later meets back up with the original trail. Just take your time and follow the flagged trail. You will want to get to the trail head as early as possible as it fills up fast. Count on adding a little more distance to the nearly 7.4 round trip hike depending on where you park.
Great views along the trail and especially at the summit.
Three weeks off in between hikes and today was a quick trip over to Evergreen to try Bergen Peak Trail. Bergen Peak Trail sits in Elk Meadow Park in Jefferson County, a short drive from Denver. Elk Meadow Park contains 1659 acres and has 16.5 miles of trails. Parking at the Stagecoach Trailhead, just off Stagecoach Road, one of two parking areas in the park. The other parking area being off Lewis Ridge Road at the Lewis Ridge trailhead. The hike to Bergen Peak begins with the Meadow View trail for about nearly a mile then links up with the Bergen Peak trail.
Follow Bergen Peak trail for another 2.7 miles or so and then at the next junction, go left for the final mile to the summit. The summit of Bergen Peak actually sits in the Denver Mountain Parks system. Gorgeous views of the town of Evergreen on one side and Mt. Evans and the Continental Divide on the other!
There are several ways to return to the trailhead, but this day it was decided to return the same way. Distance totaled 9.1 miles.
Staying close to Denver, made the trip down Highway 285, just outside Conifer over to Reynolds Park to do the Eagle’s View Trail Loop. Reynolds Park is 2118 acres and has 17 miles of trails. The Loop is actually made up of several trails. Elkhorn trail, Eagle’s View trail itself, Raven’s Roost and Oxen Draw trail. Total hike distance 4.5 miles. Great views from the apex of this hike! This is the 2nd time in a month that I’ve hiked this, having done this in April as well.
Saturday was a great day to get out of Denver for a few hours on take in some fresh air, blue skies and get my boots a little dirty in the process. Headed out to Staunton State Park, this time to try Bear Paw trail.
Bear Paw trail is a relatively new trail, opening late last year. The trail itself is 2.3 miles and is for hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding. The only way to access this trail is by hiking the Mason Creek trail. There are two entries onto Bear Paw, the first is about 2.75 miles in on Mason Creek and the second entry is about 3.2 miles in.
Looking across the park towards Pike’s Peak far in the distance
A “rock whisperer” is among us.
Zoom in on Pike’s Peak
First entry onto Bear Paw trail to the left.
Rock balancing. There were several of these along Mason Creek on our way down the trail
There are 3 marked overlooks, Eagle Cliffs, Pikes Peak and Catamount along Bear Paw trail as well as a few unmarked ones as well. Each providing gorgeous views across the park 9400 feet in elevation and higher, with Eagle Cliffs the highest of the three at 9579 feet. Eagle Cliffs Overlook involves a quick climb up to the top, and it is well worth it. Each of the 3 outlooks are to be accessed on foot only.
Following Mason Creek trail to Bear Paw trail and back down Mason Creek to the trail head gives you about 8.25 miles in total.
I finally made it back to Golden to hike the Mt. Galbraith Loop. Starting again from the Nightbird Gulch trail. After 1.8 miles in I met up with the junction for the Galbraith Loop trail. I decided to take the trail going to the left. The distance on the loop is 1.6 miles. Here are a few pics from the loop trail only. Total mileage for the hike, a little over 5.1 miles.
A great day to get out of the city with temperatures reaching the mid 90s and head up to the high country to hopefully cooler temps. Take Hwy 7 towards Lyons and just outside of Allenspark to the Wild Basin trail head.
This time back to the Wild Basin trail head within Rocky Mountain National Park for another attempt at Ouzel Lake. My last time on this trail was in June 2014 and a combination of a missed alternate trail, a washed out bridge from the flooding in late 2013 and injuring my knee along the trail, I never made it to the lake.
Very exciting and lucky to capture this shot of a bull moose today
A look back
The final approach to Ouzel Lake
Overall it was a great day to be on the trail, as you may or may not know traffic is also heavy mostly due to Ouzel Falls and and the Cascades along the way. Getting there as early as possible is a great idea to find a decent parking space. The highlight of the day for myself of course was spotting a bull moose on the descent from Ouzel Lake.
Distance covered this hike was 9.9 miles, taking an alternate trail part of the way up and back down the normal trail coming back down.
Today was gorgeous weather-wise and I’d been itching all week to get in a hike. Again wanting to keep it close to the Denver, I chose to drive over to Golden and give the Nightbird Gulch Trail a try.
Nightbird Gulch Trail by itself is a hikers only single dirt trail of 1.8 miles, it becomes more of a rocky trail as you ascend. At the end of those 1.8 miles, the trail junctions with the Mt Galbraith Loop Trail of 1.6 miles around the Mt Galbraith summit. Nightbird Gulch has an elevation gain of somewhere over 800 Vft from the trail head starting elevation of 5972 ft.
Look up at Mount Galbraith
Zoom in shot of parking area by the trail access
Traffic on the Cedar Gulch Trail
Signage at the junction
The Mt. Galbraith Loop Trail can also be accessed from the opposite end of the park from the Cedar Gulch Trail. This trail is 1.3 miles to the junction and is also the more popular trail than the Nightbird Gulch Trail. The Nightbird trail is accessed through a residential area with on street parking for a few cars, maybe 6 or 7 unless you park on both sides of the street. The advantage to hiking the Nightbird Gulch Trail is you get 5.2 miles total when you include the Mt Galbraith Loop versus 4.2 miles from the Cedar Gulch Trail, depending on what you’re up for I guess.
On this afternoon I just did the Nightbird Gulch trail in and out, 3.6 miles total. Next time I’m adding in the Mt. Galbraith Loop as well.
Directions to trail. Coming from State HWY 93 turn on Iowa Dr and then turn on Canyon Point Circle.
Dogs are welcome, but must be on a leash. Each trail in this park are for hikers only. Cost to access, free.