Category Archives: Hiking

Hiking and Camping in the National Grasslands

Pawnee Buttes – i found a page about this place in a book about best places to camp in Colorado. It was east, we never go east to camp, so figured why not try this place out.

I had originally gotten a campground reserved here 3 years ago in june. As we all know the hubby doesn’t like to potty anywhere but in a structure. Said structure can be over a hole in the ground, but it provides privacy. So i book most of our campsites between december and february for the summer. Unfortunately when things come up closer to… well, we’ll be camping..

That year hubby found out the WWDC ended the friday that we would have left to go camping. Since he puts on a separate conference in the same location, i figured he’d be tired. So i haraged a girlfriend to come with and we could do nature, no problem.

As time approached i received info from the camp host that the nearby reservoir had been too full so they released some water that flooded the campground, but they hoped it would dry up… hmmm…. The week prior we got another call that the water was somewhat receding but alas the standing water and drawn the mosquitos and that if we wished to cancel, we could do so with no reprise..  we did so!

Finally this was the year to try this place out! As the same girl friend and i were deciding on when we could camp (letting the hubby join in) we thought of this place! You can start camping in April cause it is towards Kansas and gets super hot faster than other locations.

Turns out it is only 1.5 hours from home to the campsite which is not actually in the grasslands but “close” (Crow Valley camp ground – on the left by briggsdale, buttes are in the middle)

As the years pass, we keep going bigger for camping! We upgraded to the family sleeping bag at christmas (thanks mom)! Queen sleeping bag on queen air mattress.

We als got a tent for the boys for christmas (thanks melissa), someplace they could go when the sun was out or they wanted a rest from the dirt. Paco immediately took to it after we set it up, in the house and was always in there, till we had to put it away, but winston wasn’t so sure. He’s not really a dirt kinda dog. But he did end up enjoying it while we spent the weekend camping!

 

Saturday was our day to hike the buttes! I was kind of excited, first hike of the season with an elevation gain of a mere 300 feet or so! Win!

It took 45 minutes on mostly terrible roads to get there,but we did it! Then it was off the explore nature

The trail is flat and pretty straight forward, there is a surprising bit of down to get into some of the valleys between, but not too terrible!

Suman took the lead with paco! He was raring to go! I was a bit concerned when i was chatting with the ranger and asking if there was anything particular i should look for and she said – “Watch out for snakes”. Oy. Thanks for that. We didn’t see any snakes – thank goodness, but i also kept the boys close!

We got out to almost the farthest butte when the boys decided the lack of shade and the nearly 3 miles one way was too much for their little selves! I knew we were probably getting into a pickles as they actually sat and asked for water along the way (winston generally refuses water – i provide them water by squeezing my camelback bite valve and they get a spray of water to partake)

We took it easy coming back, enjoyed the backside of the buttes and then took a break under a tree for a snack and some relaxing!

It’s a crazy landscape and such a weird thing to be out in the flat lands and then have pieces of land just jutt up and be there!

We almost made it back to the trail head before both boys completely boycotted and had to be carried back to the car! Of all the weekends to forget my baby bjorn… Turns out Winston had a cut in the middle of his paw, but i think paco being shorter was just tuckered out!

They and we relaxed the rest of the day, reading and enjoying the great campsite! Sunday was packed up, that was definitely a treat to try and figure out how to get the sleeping bag back into the sack… it took 2 of us! (Later at home, after letting it air out, i figure out the best way to stuff it in the sack was to unzip it all and stuff in in like a regular sleeping bag! Great way to start the camping season off!

Camping in Rocky Mountain National Park

Spent a wonderful weekend with the hubby at Rocky Mountain National Park!

Us at the campsite

I traded a work trip on sunday for more of friday to play! We were able to hit the road by 10, 10:30 am! We arrived in Estes in time for lunch! Enjoy a great meal, a great temp, and a great view! Right on the river!

Great camp site

We headed into the park in time to check in and set up our tent! I had plans that we would pop over the Bear Lake area and get in a hike. Alas the crazy thunderstorms prevented that – so relaxing and beer at the campsite it was!

Beers at the site

We enjoyed the quiet and views, until….  Apparently national parks are now where large groups and families that cannot control themselves, their children or their talking volumes go…

We had a pretty great dinner – i recently discovered tater tots in foil on the fire! A-Mazing!

The next morning we headed for our hike – i had one in mind, but the ranger and the super crowded buses made me re-think my decision to a different on – Emerald Lake

The end

There were definitely a lot of people on the trail, but the views and the hike was wonderful!

I am still taking care with my knee, so i chose one with only 600 foot elevation gain, but goodness did it seem like more!

Lake Emerald Hike

Starting the hike!

IMG_2252

First Lake – Nymph Lake

IMG_1791  IMG_2256  IMG_2266

Then onto Dream Lake and the River that connects them!

IMG_1797 IMG_1798 IMG_2270

Finally onto Emerald Lake – a pretty pretty place to spend a little time sitting and enjoying nature – and all the rest of the people that were there as well!

The end

It took 1 hour up and less down! Took longer to take the bus from the camp ground, to the carpool lot, to the bus to Bear Lake. Definitely get up early and take a nap later!!

We enjoyed a great afternoon reading and relaxing, and snacking! So quiet when the annoying families are away for the day!

The other bummer on our campsite – i picked on that was uphill from the rest room. Like a kick your pants to return to the campsite after you pee!

But all in all our quiet time relaxing and not worrying about the monkeys was fabulous!

Reynolds Park Open Space – Eagles View Hike

It appears i have been remiss on documenting my hikes! Last year was a slow year and not many were done, but this year i hope to rectify that!

 

We celebrated the boys’ birthday in the normal fashion of a hike! I’ve had some knee issues and only have gotten in 1 hike so far this season, so we decided to go light on the mileage. Thought we were also going light on the elevation gain as well… but I don’t think so!

We had done this hike before, but I can’t remember which route we did. This time we decided to go right. Had I read some of the remarks on this site, i might have shifted the route a bit and skipped the hot and steep up hill part on Raven’s Roost.

IMG_0005

We took the

  • Right arm of the Elkhorn,
  • Right at the Raven’s roost intersection,
  • Right onto the Eagle’s View Trail,
  • connecting back at Oxen Drive – go right, and then the
  • second Elkhorn to return to the parking lot.

According to the comments on the other site, to avoid the steep, hot up hill, do this instead:

  • Left arm of Elkhorn
  • Right onto Oxen Draw
  • Right onto Raven’s Roost
  • Left onto Eagle’s View Trail
  • Reconnect at Oxen Draw and repeat your steps back to the car.

OR

  • Left arm of Elkhorn
  • Right onto Oxen Draw
  • Left onto Eagle’s View Trail
  • Right at Raven’s Roost
  • Reconnect at Oxen Draw and repeat your steps back to the car.

Length: For once, the book, and online matched the GPS! I was little worried when the Eagle’s View portion said 2.3 miles, but the other parts line up nicely

IMG_0019

Difficulty: I can say it’s isn’t easy, but i can’t say it’s super strenuous. We took our time, plodded up the uphills and made it to the view in about an hour.

 IMG_1762

Time:We got a late start since I knew we were going to “altitude” and i didn’t want to rush the morning. We arrived at the parking lot around 10:15, and were on the trail by 10:30. Completed by 12:30.

IMG_1757 IMG_0013   IMG_0018

Rating:

I enjoyed this hike and it was a good 10-15 degrees cooler than it was in Denver, so that was a treat as well.  You definitely sweat it up, but the views are worth it!

The wildflowers were out in force and all that made me smile!

 IMG_1756 IMG_1759 IMG_1755 IMG_1752

There were also a ton of butterflies of all different kinds. It was great! Hubby tried to capture a mating ritual on film… but all you can see is little blurs…

IMG_0010

There is not real “top”, there is a ridge that you arrive at. From the right route, you arrive out of the trees to an amazing view, you continue to enjoy that view along the .25/.5 portion until you head back down into the trees!

IMG_0015

IMG_0017

 

Boulder Lake Hike

Annual camping trip to cow creek south on green mountain reseviour! I needed a new hike for the group. I found this one – boulder lake hike. The info i had indicated a 800 foot elevation gain a 500 foot elevation loss. Sounds not too bad right? They lie. Even pro-trails was just so-so on the description.

Trail head (summer) definitely needed high clearance. Road is pretty rutted and large rocks abound! We finally made it, took us nearly an hour off the main road for that…

Trail head was right there, plenty of info.

IMG_9678

Off went and the sights eere pretty fabulous!

IMG_9684

IMG_9685      IMG_9693

The boys did very well! Ended up being longers and harder and hotter than anticipated, but they were troopers!

IMG_9691

The lake was beautiful! Definitely worth the treck up there! Alas once we turned around, i wasn’t so sure! Definitely a tough one!

IMG_9699 IMG_9703 IMG_9704

 

Devil’s Head Fire Lookout

 

IMG_8436

Length: We ended up at 3.34 with some of the zin offshoot

Difficulty: It’s definitely up and you’ll be sweating, but it’s only 1.5 to the top, you can do it!.

Time: we did it in about and hour and a half with some stops to check out the top, snacks at the zinn off shoot and other lovely places on the way up and down

Rating: Nice hike! Definitely gets crowded! We were at the trail head by 9am and were the 3rd car there, by the time we left the top there was no parking left, cars were in the woods, and the trail was very crowded on the way back down!

I’ve had this hike on my to-do for a bit, especially since it is rated as a, if you live in the front range you should definitely hike this. I got a lovely group of gals to join me on the jaunt up and was especially excited about the 143 stairs at the top!

IMG_8434 IMG_8433 IMG_8445

The views along the way were so amazing! Lots of land and buttes and trees and mountains as far as the eye can see!

IMG_8438 IMG_8432 IMG_8431

 

The mid way point has a sign, but i swear it seemed alot further from there than to there!

 

Mt Flora

I’ve had this hike on my to-do list for years! The main worry was about it being too hot with very little shade. Finally I convinced some friends that this would be a great hike!

Length: My GPS said 7, book says 6.3

Difficulty: Heck it’s hard! All up, you start at 10k feet and are climbing steadily till 13,900 feet.

Time: we did it in under 3 hours!! There were storms threatening on the way up, and then lightening on the way down, so we were cruising in both directions!

Rating: Tough, but a really pretty hike. Lots to see, cooler than Denver, so even a 90 degree day in Denver is only 60-70 up there! Bring layers, you will get hot, then cold, then hot, then cold!

To start the hike, park in the Berthed Pass Parking lot – use the rest room at the far end, start the hike on the other end by the service gate. There will be no marker. But you will see signs for the continental divide trail. You will cruise up some windy switchbacks, on a wide service road. Eventually you will come to a sign!

IMG_8313

 

Keep on climbing and climbing and climbing. There will be some amazing views to left/west, and down to route 40, to right/east and the mountain ranges around you! Just keep on trucking up…

IMG_8316 IMG_8319 IMG_8322

When we finally go to the top, it was kinda hard to tell you were there. First because we ended up “in” the clouds

IMG_8326

 

 

 

Second was because it’s a pretty flat summit. There will be a circular rock thingy on your left, but you will probably only notice the pile of rocks ahead to your right, but just turn around and it will be more obvious Inside that round area is the bottle with the signature paper for the summit list! Woot!

IMG_8330 IMG_8341

 

Definitely not a hike for the feint of heart, but enjoyable, doable and beautiful!

 

 

Fountain Valley Trail – Roxborough Park

This hike has been a todo for a while. It was in my loop hike book.

IMG_8142Length: 3.24 miles,

Difficulty: Moderate/Easy – lots of ups and down, no shade

Time: Less than 2 hours (We had a hot little boy, so we had to stop and see if we could make him happier)

Rating: Good hike, close to home! More of a winter kingd of thing. There are a couple other hikes that i want to do, and hope to get to those in the cooler months!

This place can get pretty full – we went pretty late on a saturday in the summer, but still managed to grab a spot in the further lot.

NOTE: do not use the bathroom in that lot! Use the lovely bathroom in the visitors center!!

NOTE: DOGS are NOT allowed!

It is part of the Colorado State Park system, so having a friend with a a state park pass can be a savings! And they give you fruit snacks at the front gate!

We headed off from the lot, found the visitor center and good bathroom and decided to go counter clockwise. Makes it harder to see the signs and the harder part is near the end that way, but not undoable!

The views were great of the rock jutting out of the ground, the wild flowers were great and the over look is pretty cool. There is also an old home stead you can peak into.

IMG_8133 IMG_8137 IMG_8138 IMG_8140 IMG_8143  IMG_8145

 

Again, i enjoyed myself and think it is a great option for the cooler months when the snow is in the foot hills, but it wont be here!

Maxwell Falls Hike

Fourth of july – time to get out and explore colorado and get in a hike!

Maxwell Falls Hike

Length: 3.8 to 4 miles, depending on your gps

Difficulty: Moderate – lots of ups and down, but shaded

Time: Less than 2 hours (lots of stops for dog training and resting at the falls)

Rating: Good hike, close to home! Shaded so not terrible in 80 degrees, should try again in the fall, see the colors.

I had done this hike with a friend a few years ago, but never found the falls. This time i did a smidge more research, and knew hubby and the boys and I could find the falls!

IMG_7988 IMG_7990 IMG_7989 IMG_7987

We got up at an acceptable time, got ready and headed out to evergreen. I got a little nervous when it was only 9am and 80 degrees on our way out of town…  When we reached Evergreen the temps dipped to 75… good think we were going into the woods!

We found street parking, not terrible – and ran across the street to the trail head! Careful of the sharp blink curve, and of note, no trash cans at the trail head, to pack in and out your poop. Thanks boys! (TMI – paco pooped twice and winston once – sigh!)

The trail was up and down and up and down and up and down! Not too terrible but definitely not flat! There were a couple stream crossing, and when we eventually got the falls, as you can see – nothing spectacular, but still fun and cute!

IMG_7966 IMG_7973 IMG_7977 IMG_7979 IMG_7983 IMG_7970 IMG_7967 IMG_7971

Surprise Lake and Camping at Cow Creek

Last weekend – the last weekend prior to the 4th – which will now become an annual event, i got 2 fabulous campsites right on a reservoir and invited a bunch of different out doorsie people to join me/us!

Here is the campsite to the left

IMG_7879

 

To the right, and closer to the right, you can see the tree in both! Great place to be!

IMG_7878 IMG_7877

We had found this camp site last year and decided to come again this year but get both the sites in what i call a “culdesac”

We had good times around the fire and enjoyed some serious relaxing and bonding time

IMG_7929

Saturday was a hike we had attempted last year and were thrwated by the mosquitos! this year we were prepared and so were the pups! We had deet they had puppy spray – lemongrass and catnip and they are on heart worm! Suprise lake! It’s a portion of a much longer hike (9.3) – we did the 2.6 each way one!

IMG_7882      SurpriseLake IMG_7934

It was the first time i had hiked with such a big crowd since girl scouts, but it was great!

Most of the time we were in the woods, mosquitos swarming, but not too too hot! Views were amazing and the columbines were gorgeous!

Hubby and another of the fellas say the hike was straight up hill… I thought it was ok!  ;)

IMG_7888 IMG_7891 IMG_7902 IMG_7907 IMG_7912 IMG_7915 IMG_7919

Definitely hope to do the whole 9.3 next year, or at least hike around Surprise Lake, it was so pretty!

Lessons learned:

  • The deflate portion of the air pump for the air mattress is amazing
  • We can put up our tent in super windy conditions
  • Being without cell signal can be an amazing thing

Mount Falcon – Castle Trail hike

Memorial day finally arrived, so it was time to get this hiking thing/season, and off on a bang!

Sadly the weekend was icky until monday, when it was finally not 40% chance of rain and 50-60 degrees – it was 75-80 degrees and bright sunshine!

Castle Trail Hike – Mount Falcon

Length: 6-8 miles depending the route

Difficulty: Strenuous – it’s up, straight up. The turkey trout side is a less steep option, but also a little longer. We took that on the way out… it sure seemed like forever!

Time: 3 hours.

Rating: A good hike in the off season, no shade. Although all the wild flowers were gorgeous! Can get crowded with bikes and people. The view of Denver and red rocks were fabulous!

Note: Parking is small, so go early or go late!

Here is another option to make the hike shorter and less strenuous, and all the trail descriptions are here.

Imagine this trail iamge being a full circle, as if i didn’t forget to turn on my tracking until 1/2 a mile in!

IMG_7695

Heading off to get our hike on:

IMG_7666

Panoramic view near the top! Such a great view!

IMG_7674

Amazing views of Red Rocks!

IMG_7685

Some of the wild flowers!

IMG_7683

 

 

Cute couple at the top!

IMG_7681

Back to the parking lot – tuckered, hot, but accomplished!

IMG_7669