Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Monday, November 12, 2012

Cheesman Canyon

Cheesman Canyon
Pike National Forest

Date Hiked: Nov. 12, 2012

Distance: 8 miles (RT)

Elevation Gain: 800ft
Elevation Min/Max: 6,477ft to 7,154ft
Trailhead Lat/Long:  39.241484 N; 105.265702 W

Managing Agency: U.S. Forest Service
Fee: None

U.S. Forest Service Cheesman Canyon Website
Cheesman Canyon Trail Map

Directions:  From Denver, take 285 S. to Pine Junction and turn left (south) onto Pine Valley Road (126).  Take 126 south through the historic town of Pine.  This becomes Deckers Rd (126).  Take Deckers Rd south to the trailhead and parking area off to the right.

This is a wonderful hike through a fascinating part of Colorado's Front Range.  The mountains are replaced by rock formations, sandstone canyons, and burn areas.  However, I screwed up this hike when I did it.  Do not follow my google map exactly, the key for this description tells you what not to do and how to do it properly.

The trail starts by following the Gill trail along the slopes of Cheesman Canyon.  The trail is hard to find in some places so be careful.  After you've traversed most of the canyon, you need to look to the right (upslope) for the trail junction.  I missed this trail junction when I  hiked the canyon.  The key is, do not go all the way to the dam.  A few hundred yards before the dam, there is a faint trail that goes upslope away from the Canyon.  You want to take this trail, which will climb over the mountain and deposit you on the other side where you hike along the dirt road back to the trailhead.

If you go all the way, like I did, you get to a service road, stating no trespassing.  Cheesman Reservoir is off limits to the public and if you disregard these signs (as I did) you will wind up enclosed by fences and gates. It was really embarrassing as I got stopped by an official in a pickup truck. I told him my situation and he allowed be to hike out, of course once I got to the fence and the gate, I had to crawl under the fence near a ditch to get out.  You need to avoid this situation at all costs, if you can't find the proper trail, go back through the canyon, don't get stuck behind the gates!

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Tucker Lake & Ralston Creek Trail, Arvada

Tucker Lake & Ralston Creek Trail
City of Arvada

Date Hiked: November 11, 2012

Distance: 3.5 mi (RT)

Elevation Min/Max: 5,696 to 5,944ft

Managing Agency: City of Arvada Open Space

Tucker Lake Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  The trailhead for Tucker Lake can be reached a number of ways from Denver.  You can take I-70 west to 58 west to 93 North and turn right (east) on 66th Ave and turn left on Virgil Way.... or you can take I-70 and head north on Kipling, Wadsworth, or Ward.  Take either of those streets to either 64th or 72nd and head west until they become Virgil Way.  Once on Virgil Way, you'll see the paved trail to the west, park on the street and you'll quickly find the trailhead for the Ralston Creek Trail.

Tucker Lake is a small lake with a great view of the front range foothills just north of Golden.  You start out on the paved Ralston Creek Trail, and soon detour on a soft surface trail north to Tucker Lake.  The trail goes around the lake and meets back up with the Ralston Creek Trail, there is a dirt single track trail paralleling Ralston Creek if you just can't hike on a paved trail...  I only traveled about 1 mile on this trail as the temperature was single digits and I was freezing my bloody arse off...  The Ralston Creek Trail will eventually head south to the north shore of Blunn Reservoir and loop back to the start (that was my goal before my joints froze).  On this stretch of trail you get great views to the north including Eldorado Mountain, Bear Peak, and S. Boulder Peak.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

Wetlands Preserve, Cherry Creek State Park

Wetlands Preserve
Cherry Creek State Park

Date Hiked: November 8, 2012

  • Distance: 1.8mi (RT)
  • Elevation Gain: 200ft
  • Elevation Min/Max: 5,540 to 5,605ft
  • Managing Agency: Colorado Division of Parks & Wildlife

Cherry Creek State Park Trail Map (CDP&W)
Wetlands Preserve Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  This hike is located in the eastern part of the park.  The park entrance is off of S. Parker Road.  To get there from Denver, take I-25 south to 225 north.  Get off at the Parker Road exit and head south.  Make a right into the park entrance.  In the park, follow E. Lehigh Ave, make a left onto Lake View Road.  The parking area is on the left.

The Wetlands Preserve is a nice quiet spot on the south shore of Cherry Creek Reservoir.  Most of the park visitors visit the lake shore so this area in often quieter and secluded.  The trail follow Cherry Creek for a little ways and winds though cottonwood forest.  The Wetlands Loop will take you to the south shore of Cherry Creek Reservoir and loop back to the south to the Pipeline Trail back to the parking area.  You can also take the North Connector Trail for another loop or follow the trails to the south for a longer hike.