Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Fern Lake (Winter)

Winter trail to the Pool, Fern Falls, and Fern Lake
Rocky Mountain National Park

Date Hiked: Nov. 26, 2013

Distance: 8.5 mi (RT)

Elevation Gain: 2,000ft

National Park Service Website
Fern Lake Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  From Estes Park, enter Rocky Mountain National Park via the Beaver Meadows entrance.  Make a left on Bear Lake Road and a right towards Moraine Park.  During the winter the road is closed before the Fern Lake Trailhead adding about 1 mile roundtrip to the hike.  There is a $20 fee to enter the park, but if you live in Colorado just spring for the annual pass.  If you don't come here multiple times a year, know...

The first part of this hike is a mostly level, pleasant walk through the forest along the creek feeding into Cub Lake.  Once you reach the Pool (a nice destination for the kiddos) the trail starts to climb and gains most of hike's total elevation within about 1.5 miles.  In the winter there is a good chance that the trail will be snow packed, I wound up carrying my snowshoes on my pack and just wearing good boots and using trekking poles for traction.

The trail is amazing.  In the early winter there is barely a soul in the park, but beware if you go during the summer, the crowds can be overwhelming.  As you approach Fern lake, there are mountain views in every direction and Fern Falls is spectacular.  When you reach Fern Lake head left to the eastern part of the lake and a small bridge.  The view from just past the bridge reminds you why this is a National Park.  The Gable, Little Matterhorn, and Notch Mountain tower over the lake and beckon you to travel onward.  If you do have the time and energy keep heading up the trail to Odessa Lake, the mountain's majesty keeps getting better.  Stay here as long as you can and explore the shoreline. In winter the trail from here to Odessa Lake gets immediately less traveled, if you didn't need snowshoes up till now, you will once you get to the western shore of Fern Lake.  In winter, given the added mileage at the beginning, Fern Lake is a substantial hike and worth every snow trodden mile.  

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Goshawk Ridge

Eldorado Mountain Trailhead > Spring Brook > Goshawk Ridge > Fowler Trails
City of Boulder Mountain Park and Open Space

Date Hiked: Nov. 7, 2013

Distance: 4.11 mi (Round Trip)
Elevation Gain: 775 ft

Directions:  This trail description begins at the Eldorado Mountain Trailhead.  From Denver/Boulder take Hwy 93 and head west on Eldorado Springs Drive.  Pass the Doudy Draw Trailhead and make the next left (look for the Ashram sign).  Drive up the paved/dirt road to the gate closure.  There is very limited parking on the east side of the road.

City of Boulder Map of the Doudy Draw Area
Map of the Goshawk Ridge Trail (Google Maps)

Hike up the dirt road to the junction with the Spring Brook trail.  Go left on the Spring Brook trail until you hit the irrigation ditch, look for a bridge crossing and the start of Goshawk Ridge Trail.  The trail enters a pine forest and soon offers fantastic views of Eldorado Mountain, Eldorado Canyon, and Shirttail Peak.  This one of the best views in the Boulder mountains and a great view down into Eldorado Springs and the start to Eldorado Canyon.  Follow the trail to the Fowler trail and stay straight.  You can make a left and take the Fowler trail into Eldorado Canyon State Park.  Going just past the state park boundary gives you an amazing view of the cliffs of Eldorado Canyon, truly spectacular.  Follow the Fowler trail through a rock cut and hook up again with the Spring Brook Trail back to the Trailhead.

This is one of my favorite south-of-Boulder trails and makes for a wonderful quick hike with great views and few crowds.