Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Square Top Lakes, Pike National Forest

Square Top Lakes
Pike National Forest

Date Hiked: August 26, 2012

Distance: 4.3 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 1,000ft
Elevation Min/Max: 11,587 to 12,375ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 39.597210 N; 105.713087 W
Managing Agency: U.S. Forest Service
Fee: None

Square Top Lakes Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  From Denver, head west on I-70 to Georgetown.  Drive through historic Georgetown to Guanella Pass Road.  Follow Guanella Pass Road to the summit of Guanella Pass where there is a parking area and the trailhead for Square Top Lakes.

This is a wonderful, high alpine hike to two scenic lakes with wonderful views of Mt. Bierstadt and Mt. Evans to the East.  From the trailhead, you follow the rolling tundra approaching ever closer to Square Top Mountain.  The trail is easy to follow, which is helpful because you will be hard pressed to keep your eyes focused on the trail with such amazing scenery around and behind you.

The first lake is about 1.8 miles from the trailhead.  Take a few moments here but don't stop, the upper lake is less than 1/2 a mile further.  Follow the trail to the left of the lake and the sign pointing to Square Top Lake.  This climbs the ridge behind the 1st lake to the upper Square Top Lake, your destination.  This is a wonderful lake to sit and stare at Mt. Bierstadt.  If you are feeling particularly adventurous, you can continue up to the summit of Square Top Mountain, if not, relax, enjoy the landscape, and head back the way you came when you are ready.

This is a true high alpine adventure and as such, be wary of getting a late start, Thunderstorms can roll in quickly and there is no shelter on this trail.  That being said, this hike is simply a must do.

Friday, August 24, 2012

Carpenter Peak

Carpenter Peak
Roxborough State Park

Date Hiked: August 24, 2012

Distance: 6.5 mi (RT)

Elevation Gain: 1,000ft

CO State Parks - Roxborough Trail Map
Carpenter Peak Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  This hike starts at the main parking area for Roxborough State Park (Park Fees are required).  From Denver take C470 and exit at S. Wadsworth Blvd.  Follow S. Wadsworth south until you pass by the Waterton Canyon Parking Area.  The road then becomes Waterton Road as you bear left.  Make a right on N. Rampart Range Rd.  Take this road until it ends and you see the signs for Roxborough SP.  When you enter the park you follow the good dirt road to the parking area and visitor's center.  The trail starts across from the flag pole at the main trailhead.

This is my favorite hike in the park.  It is a steady, moderate climb to a wonderful foothills peak.  You get a birds eye view of the park and when the weather is right you can see the snowy ridges of the Mount Evans Massif.  There are fewer people on this hike, since you gain about 1,000ft of elevation.

Start at the Visitor's Center and just follow the signs.  There is not much thought involved in this hike, which allows you to take in the red rocks and the foothills in a relaxing way.  The trail crosses County Road 5 and switchbacks up the slopes of Carpenter Peak.  Just before the top you reach a trail junction pointing you to either the summit of the peak or Waterton Canyon.  It sure would be fun to reach this peak via Waterton Canyon...I'll put it on my to-do list...  The summit is rocky but ideal for a nice rest.  When satisfied with the view, head back the same way.

An easy, quiet peak, in an otherwise busy state park just a stones throw from Denver.

btw - The photos below are from two different hikes one in August of 2012 and one from April 2011, just in case you were wondering...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Crown Hill Park, Jefferson County Open Space

Crown Hill Park
Jefferson County Open Space

Date Hiked:  August 23, 2012

Distance: 2.7 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: Negligible
Elevation: 5,511ft
Managing Agency: Jefferson County Open Space
Fee: None
Trailhead Latitude:  39.762057º N
Trailhead Longitude: 105.094576º W

Crown Hill Park Website (Jeffco)
Crown Hill Park Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  The park is located off of Kipling Street in between 26th Ave and 32nd Ave in Lakewood.  The trailhead for this hike is located at 32nd and Estes Street.

Crown Hill Park has much more to offer than you might think.  Aside from Crown Hill Lake, the main attraction with a 1.4 mile paved trail, there are various natural areas that each have nice trails to explore.  This hike description gives you a good tour of the park hitting all the major highlights.

Instead of parking at the main lot off of Kipling Street, start at the Northside on 32nd.  The eastern portion of the park is wooded and has nice natural surface trails to explore.  From the trailhead head west on the wide path through Cottonwoods.  Once you exit the wooded area there will be various trails leading to the south turn left here and work your way towards the lake but bearing west.  Up ahead you’ll see a fenced in wooded area with is the Crown Hill Wildlife Sanctuary.  There is a gate on the eastern edge of the sanctuary.  The short loop within the fenced in section is peaceful and serene.  Enjoy the quiet stroll through this area over bridges and reading the interpretive signage along the way.  Exit the area through another gate and meet up with the main paved trail around the lake.  Follow the west and south shores but keep your eyes out for the natural surface trails leading away from the lake to the east.  Leave the lake and follow these trails through more wooded areas and back to the north.  You’ll find yourself in an open prairie area beneath the towering steeple of the Historic Olinger Mortuary.  Cross the plains and work your back north back to the trailhead.