Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chimney Gulch Trail, Windy Saddle Park

Chimney Gulch Trail
Windy Saddle Park, Jefferson County Open Space

Date Hiked: Feb. 23, 2013

Distance: 4.6 mi (RT)

Elevation Gain:  1,143ft

Elevation Min/Max: 5,772 to 6,915

Windy Saddle Park Website & Map (Jeffco)
Chimney Gulch Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  From Denver take I-70 W to Hwy 58 West to Golden.  Turn left (North) on Hwy 6 and make a quick right into the Parking area at the base of Lookout Mountain.

This is a great training hike as it gains a lot of altitude but is very close to Denver.  The hike starts at the base of Lookout Mountain off Hwy 6 where you'll quickly find an easy to follow trail.  The Trail follows Chimney Gulch but you are actually hiking up Lookout Mountain.  As you snake your way up Chimney Gulch you'll cross Lookout Mountain Road, watch for road bikes.  The trail skirts the gulch for a good steady ascent.  When you near the top the trail will cross over to the opposite side of gulch and pass through a small evergreen forest before switchbacking up to the Windy Saddle.  You'll top out and cross Lookout Mountain Road one more time to get the great view from Windy Saddle.

This hike ends at Windy Saddle but if you want more hiking you can push on further up the Lookout Mountain Trail to the summit of Lookout Mountain and the Nature Center/Boetcher Mansion or you can take the Beaver Brook Trail from Windy Saddle further west.  You can also head towards the Nature Center, but take a side trail that connects you over to Buffalo Bill's Gift Shop...I mean Grave...

Monday, February 18, 2013

Woodsy Way Snowshoe Trail, Steamboat Ski Touring Center

Woodsy Way Snowshoe Trail
Steamboat Ski Touring Center

Date Hiked: Feb. 18, 2013

Distance: 3.1 miles
Managing Agency: Private Ownership
Fee: $18

Steamboat Touring Center Trail Map

Directions (from the Touring Center’s Website):  From the Steamboat area on US 40, exit Right onto Mt. Werner Road. Turn right onto Mt. Werner Road at stop sign.  After 2 stop lights (about 0.2 miles), turn left onto Steamboat Blvd.  Stay on Steamboat Boulevard until you come to skiers crossing and we are the second right at the Steamboat Ski Touring Center sign.

There are many amazing snowshoe and ski trails within a few minutes’ drive of downtown Steamboat Springs but don’t discount to the Nordic Centers.  They do cost money, but often there are amenities and groomed trails that make it worthwhile.  As my wife loves cross country skiing, the Steamboat Ski Touring Center is ideal…I on the other hand am utterly useless on cross country skis.  Luckily the snowshoe trails at the Touring Center are top notch, especially the Woodsy Way Trail.

The trail leaves the lodge and winds its way along Fish Creek through cottonwoods and aspen trees.  The trial is really beautiful when the conditions are right.  There are many creek crossings over picturesque bridges and wide open meadows to cross over.  The trails are not difficult, although there are some trails at the Center with more elevation gain.  You can also rent equipment here so if you find yourself without your trusty snowshoes you can still participate.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Fish Creek Falls, Routt National Forest

Fish Creek Falls National Recreation Trail
Routt National Forest

Date Hiked:  Feb. 17, 2013

Distance: 1.3 mi (RT) can be longer or shorter if you wish
Elevation Gain: 400ft can be more or less if you wish
Elevation Min/Max:  7,359 to 7,755ft
Managing Agency:  U.S. Forest Service
Fee: $5

Fish Creek Falls Trailhead Website (USFS)
Fish Creek Falls Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions (From U.S. Forest Service): Directions from Steamboat Springs: North on third street, then right on Fish Creek Falls road 4 miles to the Trailhead.

In the winter Fish Creek Falls is a snowy wonderland.  The Falls run swiftly below and between tufts of white Champaign powder.  The Fish Creek Falls National Recreation Trail runs for 5 miles from the Falls to Long Lake but you can make it much shorter hike and still enjoy the area.  I highly recommend using snowshoes on this trail as the snow gets very very deep here.

From the parking area there are 2 trail options, the trail to the left, near the information kiosk will take you up north to the Falls Overlook.  This trail is beautiful and gives you great views of the Falls and the surrounding Canyon.  Past the overlook the trail gets very steep.  When you lose the “trail” at the steep section near the cliffs, you should probably turn back.  You’ll know it when you get there.

The second trail heads straight east from the far end of the parking area and drops down to the base of Fish Creek Falls.  This is the main trail.  The hike down to the falls is easy and short but you can explore further past the bridge across Fish Creek.  From the bridge, the trail switchbacks up the side of the mountain and then continues for 5 miles.  I like to hike up and find a nice viewpoint (there are a few) to relax at before heading back to the trailhead.

I’ve never been here in the summer but have snowshoed here 4 or 5 times and it is a fantastic area and when the sun is out and the snow piles up, it is truly a winter wonderland.

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Bierstadt Lake (Winter)

Bierstadt Lake via Bierstadt Moraine Trailhead
Rocky Mountain National Park

Date Hiked: February 9, 2013

Distance: 3 miles (RT)
Elevation Gain: 900ft
Elevation Min/Max: 8,626 to 9,515ft
Trailhead Latitude: 40.329009º N
Trailhead Longitude:105.602194º W
Managing Agency: National Park Service
Fee: Yes

Rocky Mountain National Park Website (NPS)
Bierstadt Lake Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  Enter Rocky Mountain National Park through the Beaver Meadows entrance ($20 fee).  Make a left on Bear Lake Road and take this to the park & ride parking lot.  The Bierstadt Moraine trailhead is at the far end of the parking lot.

There are 3 main ways to get to Bierstadt Lake, and they are all excellent hikes.  You can get there from Bear Lake, you can start at the Bierstadt Lake trailhead off Bear Lake Road, or you can use the Bierstadt Moraine trailhead at the park & ride parking lot.  This hike travels along Bierstadt Moraine.

This make for a nice short forest hike in the summer, a nice aspen viewing trail in the fall, and a good snowshoe hike in the winter.  There is typically plenty of snow.  Most of the hike travels through forest, but there are intermittent views of Longs Peak, Glacier Gorge and the Bear Lake area.  When you break through the trees at Bierstadt Lake, Hallett Peak, Flattop Mountain, and the Continental Divide stand guard in the background.  It's a nice easy walk back to the trailhead.  This is a fun family snowshoe with views worthy of a day in the National Park.