Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Monday, May 28, 2012

Castle > Summer White House > Turkey Trot Trails, Mt. Falcon Park

Castle Trail > Walker's Dream Trail to Summer White House > Turkey Trot Trails
Mount Falcon Park, East Side Trailhead

Date Hiked: May 28, 2012

  • Distance: 6.5 mi (RT)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,600 ft
  • Elevation Min/Max: 6,003 to 7,626ft
  • Managing Agency: Jefferson County Open Space
  • Fee: None

Mt. Falcon Park Website (Jeffco)
Castle>Summer White House>Turkey Trot Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  From Denver, take I-70 or Hwy 6 to C470 south.  Exit at the Morrison Exit and head West through the town.  Just after you cross town, make a left (south) on Route 8.  Pass by the Morrison Natural History Museum and turn right (west) on Forest Ave.  There should be a sign for Mt. Falcon Open Space.  Turn right on Vine St to the parking area.

Mt. Falcon from the East trailhead is my go-to after work training hike, or really anytime that I want to get a great workout without driving very far.  There are 2 options, go all the way up to the Summer White House ruins, or do the 3 mile Castle>Turkey Trot Loop.  Even the 3 mile hike is a great workout.

It's not just that this hike is an outdoor gym, it is also extremely scenic.  You get tremendous views the entire time.  The start of the hike rolls along the foothills with great views back towards the Dakota Hogback.  As you climb steadily the views stretch across the foothills.  Once you reach the junction with the Turkey Trot trail, you pass through evergreen forest and are granted some relief from the sun, the lower part is mostly exposed.  Continuing up you will be looking down on a working granite quarry, not the best of views, but you can look past to the south for views of Douglas County and Castle Rock.  Continue to climb the trail up to the saddle where you can take a rest at the covered pavilion.

I suggest taking the Walker's Dream trail up to the right.  This is a very cool trail.  You'll have many rocky boulders to climb and relax upon and numerous viewpoints looking to the East and West. Once you reach the end of the trail you are not only greeted by educational signs about the Summer White House, but you also get great views of the Continental Divide and Mt. Evans.  By the way, the ruins are actually of an attempted summer version of the White House that John Walker had designed for President Woodrow Wilson.  Funding for the project dried up, World War I began, and nothing more than a foundation was ever built...sorry John...

When you're done, head back down the Castle trail but this time, take the Turkey Trot Trail for the lower portion of the hike.  The trail will descend through pine forest, then climb again to a ridge with terrific views of Morrison Canyon, Mt. Morrison, and Red Rocks Amphitheater.  From here it is a quick, steep mile back to the trailhead.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Scarp Ridge, Gunnison National Forest

Scarp Ridge
Gunnison National Forest

Date Hiked: May 27, 2012

  • Distance: 3.5 + miles (RT) (Due to weather we did not get to the summit so add another 1 mi RT to reach the summit)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,350 ft
  • Elevation Min/Max:  10,705 to 12,069ft
  • Trailhead Lat/Long: 38.887266º N; 107.102339º W
  • Managing Agency: U.S. Forest Service
  • Fee: None

Scarp Ridge Trail Map (Google Maps) - GPS lost on way back, map incomplete but trail back is visible

Directions:  This trail can be hard to find, but it is well worth the search.  From Crested Butte, take Kebler Pass Road west.  Kebler Pass road is one of the prettiest roads in Colorado, but it closed in the winter.  Turn right (north) when you see the signs for Lake Irwin (Rd 826).  This is a dirt road, but a good dirt road.  When you reach Lake Irwin, you want to continue up the road to the left of the lake.  Bear right at the next turn, and make a right turn at the following junction.  This road will dip down before switchbacking up the side of the mountain.  You are looking for a large wood cabin-like structure.  When you find the structure, look for the un-signed trail behind the cabin.  The key here is to go to Lake Irwin, look across the lake and find the large wood cabin up the hill.  That is your destination.  With that as a bearing, finding the right road should be pretty easy.  We did not turn onto the road that dips down and found ourselves utterly lost, about to give up until we spotted the cabin on the way back.  Look for the cabin, the cabin is key...

Alternatively, you can park at Lake Irwin and take the trail leading along the NW shore, this trail will take you up to the cabin where this hike starts.  I do not know the distance, nor elevation gain, but if you don't want to drive, you can hike to the trailhead.

This hike is short but steep and it leads to Scarp ridge, you can either go straight out and back to the summit of Scarp Ridge, or you can make a right at the 1st trail junction and turn it into a loop.  The trail from the cabin switchbacks up for a little ways before straightening out.  The views are almost immediately incredible.  You pass through some forested areas but mostly are above treeline. when you get to the 1st trail split, go right.  continue up and up following the trail until you reach the ridge.  From here you are looking down on the Raggeds Wilderness, again the views are amazing, the Beckwith Mountains are to the south, the Elks between Crested Butte and Aspen to the North. On a clear day you can make out the Maroon Bells, Capital, Pyramid, Castle, and a gazillion other awesome peaks.  Follow this trail along the ridge to the North West and soon you will see the summit of Scarp Ridge (your destination). There is a trail junction just before the steep push to the summit, this is the main trail and your way back.

Unfortunately for us, once we got to the ridge the weather came in quickly, with the cold blowing snow, we felt it best to hurry back along the main trail instead of pushing on to the summit, disappointing, but not surprising, and even if you don't reach the summit the hike along the ridge should leave you satisfied.