Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Friday, March 29, 2013

Flagstaff Mountain - Tenderfoot Trail, City of Boudler

Flagstaff Mountain - Tenderfoot Trail
City of Boulder

Date Hiked: March 29, 2013

Distance: 2.7 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 500ft
Elevation Min/Max: 6,281 to 6,771ft
Managing Agency: City of Boulder Open Space & Mountain Parks
Fee: Yes

Flagstaff Mt. Trail Map (Boulder)
Tenderfoot Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  This trail starts at the Realization Point Trailhead which is just off of Flagstaff Road.  From Boulder take baseline road west and enter the Boulder Mountain Park.  Zigzag up Flagstaff Road until you get to the Realization Point Parking area and trailhead.

The Tenderfoot Trail is a nice and easy hike up on Flagstaff Mountain.  The trail winds through the evergreen forest and leads to a great viewpoint of the Indian Peaks to the west.  From the parking lot, find the Tenderfoot Trail on the west side of the lot.  The trail descends steadily around the side of Flagstaff Mountain to the main viewpoint however the views start way before the actual viewpoint.  From here the trail descends down the valley and hooks up with an old dirt road (Chapman Drive).  Chapman Drive takes you back up the valley to the Realization Point Trailhead.

With a terrific view, a varied terrain, and a very close proximity to Boulder, the Tenderfoot Loop is a great option for all skill levels.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Ancient Palms > Basalt Cap Loop, S. Table Mountain Park

Ancient Palms > Basalt Cap Loop
South Table Mountain Park, Jefferson County Open Space

Date Hiked: March 28, 2013

Distance: 5.3 mi (RT)

Elevation Gain: 400ft

Elevation Min/Max: 5,673 to 6,081ft

S. Table Mountain Park Website & Map (Jeffco)
Ancient Palms>Basalt Cap Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  This hike can be accessed in a few different ways, the quickest to to park on the street at the intersection of W. 21st Street and Elderberry.  This description starts from W. 26th Ave, just before the Tennis Club.  From Denver, take I-70 West to 32nd Ave.  Follow 32nd Ave west and make a left (south) on Kendrick St.  Kendrick curves and becomes W. 26th.  Just before the Tennis Club and the big signs, there is a small parking area and a trailhead.

This hike starts off following an irrigation ditch, through private property (make sure you stay on the trail and respect the property owners).  As you follow the trail you will soon come to the trail junction with the Ancient Palms trail, there will be an official park sign and map.

The Ancient Palms trail switchbacks up the east side of the mountain and meanders over the north end, giving you great views of North Table Mountain and the Flatirons beyond.  Just before the top of the mesa, the trail will split for the Basalt Cap Loop. Turning left will give you the great views quicker.  The Basalt Cap Trail is basically flat and follows the rim of the mesa.  You get great views down on Golden, Lakewood, and Denver.  Off to the west end of the mesa you'll get nice views of the foothills, Green Mountain, and North Table Mountain.  Follow the loop or explore the connecting trails to your heart's delight.

Being on top of the Mesa is always a treat, you'll actually feel like your in some sort of a prairie wilderness area, even though you are just hovering over suburban development, it's a nice illusion...

Friday, March 22, 2013

Platte & Ponds, Chatfield State Park

Platte & Ponds from Audubon Discovery Center
Chatfield State Park

Date Hiked: Mar. 22, 2013

Distance: 6 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 150ft
Elevation Min/Max: 5,414 to 5,568ft
Managing Agency: CO State Parks
Fee: None
Trailhead Latitude: 39.493868º N
Trailhead Longitude: 105.092037º W

Chatfield State Park Trail Map (CDW)
Platte & Ponds Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  From Denver head west on I-70 and east (south) on C-470.  Exit onto S. Wadsworth Blvd and head south towards Chatfield State Park.  Follow Wadsworth until just before Waterton Canyon and look for the Audubon Discovery Center Parking Lot on the left.

The southern portion of Chafield State Park contains the park’s best hiking trails.  However, it is rather difficult to provide a trail description for this area.  There are no “official” trails, at least they are not reflected on the map.  There are many paved and natural trails that cross each other, stop at dead ends, lead out of the park, etc…  While there are generally trails looping around the various ponds, they are all connected by trails following the South Platte River.  My advice for this area is, follow the Platte…

From the Audubon Discover Center start on the Audubon Discovery Loop Trail, a small interpretive trail that soon merges with the other trails in the park.  Keep to the right and head east towards the Platte River.  Once you reach the Platte, there will be trails heading south and heading north.  You can follow the trail to the south along the western shore of the Platte River all the way back to Wadsworth (which becomes Waterton Road) and if you cross the road, you’d enter Waterton Canyon.  However, I recommend heading north along the Platte into the heart of Chatfield.  If you follow the river far enough you’ll eventually pop out at the Chatfield State Park Road.  To the west is Chatfield Pond, the largest of the park’s ponds.  From here trails are easily followed back to the south.

If you follow the trails, wander north, stay on the west side of the Platte, and turn around at the park road, then there is little chance of getting lost.  All in all you’ll get about 6 miles of hiking in, more if you explore the various ponds on your way back.  This area is beautiful in every season and makes for a terrific flat, easy hike when you’re not looking to gain the elevation of the foothills or the mountains.