Friday, December 27, 2013
Butler Gulch, Arapaho National Forest
Date Hiked: December 27, 2013
Distance: 4 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 1,300 ft
Elevation Min/Max: 10,430 to 11,574ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 39º 46' 17" N; 105º 51' 21" W
Managing Agency: U.S. Forest Service
U.S. Forest Service Website
Butler Gulch Trail Map (Google Maps)
Directions: The winter trailhead for Butler Gulch starts at the large parking lot across from the Henderson Mine. From Denver, take I-70 West and Hwy 40 North towards Berthoud Pass. Just before you start the switchbacks make a left towards Jones Pass and the Big Bend Campground. Stay on this road until you see the sign for the Henderson Mine. On the right is a dirt road that leads to a large parking area. The Continental Divide Trail is off to the right, but for this hike start walking up the snow packed dirt road towards Jones Pass, after .25 mi or so a sign will point to the left for Butler Gulch. Pass through the gate and cross over the culvert to find the trail.
The trail to Butler Gulch is very popular in the winter, mostly for backcountry skiers, but also for snowshoe hikers. The first 1.5 miles are packed snow and you might not even need your snowshoes if you have trekking poles or spikes for traction. 1 mile in, you'll cross a creek and start ascending the steep section of the trail. Once you break treeline, you will need your showshoes for sure. Once above treeline you'll find yourself in an alpine bowl and can go wherever you wish, explore the bowl to your heart's delight, just look out for skiers...
Thursday, December 26, 2013
South Boulder Peak via Shadow Canyon
City of Boulder Mountain Parks and Open Space
Date Hiked: Dec. 26, 2013
Distance: 7.76 miles (Round Trip)
Elevation Gain: 3,096 ft
City of Boulder Trail System Map
Map of South Boulder Peak via Shadow Canyon
Directions: This hike starts at the South Mesa Trailhead off of Eldorado Springs Drive. From Hwy 93 south of Boulder head west on Eldorado Springs Drive to the South Mesa Trailhead on the right. If the parking lot is full, you can park at the nearby Doudy Draw Trailhead. There is a parking fee.
This is a great hike and maybe the closest major peak to Denver and Boulder. From the trailhead follow the Homestead Trail to the Shadow Canyon South Trail. The trail meanders through the mesa, hills, and forests leading up to steep walls of the Boulder Mountains Massif. After roughly 2.5 miles of hiking you reach the entrance to Shadow Canyon, this is where the real hike begins. Travel up a steep, rocky, washed out (from the 2013 floods) trail steadily up through the canyon. Keep an eye out to the north for an up close view of Devil's Thumb. Near the top of the canyon you enter a burn area that offers an otherworldly landscape with views looking down towards Boulder, Denver, Golden, and the surrounding plains. After a few switchbacks you'll reach the Bear/S. Boulder Peak Saddle. From here it is about .3 miles south to South Boulder Peak or .3 miles north to Bear Peak.
The summit of S. Boulder Peak is rocky but rewards you with views looking down on Bear Peak and Green Mountain to the north and Shirttail Peak and Eldorado Canyon to the South. To the West you get expansive views of Mount Evans, the James Peak Wilderness, the Indian Peaks, and Rocky Mountain National Park including a prominent Longs Peak.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Pattridge Open Space
City of Arvada Parks and Open Space
Date Hiked: December 18, 2013
Distance 1.5 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 300 ft
Directions: To reach Pattridge Open Space from Denver, take I-70 W to Hwy 58 to Golden. Turn north onto Hwy 93 and turn right on W 82nd Ave. The parking area and trailhead are on the right.
This open space park provides a pleasant enough trail for a weekday evening when you want a nice view of the foothills and a low key hike. There are various trails in this area and combining them can give you a decent hike or a short trail run. I prefer to take the first right and climb up to the top of the ridge. From here you can follow the ridge and descend down to the small creek. Follow the creek back to the parking area or take it further into the park. This hike is not amazing, not a "must do" hike but it is a nice alternative to the boulder trails and give you a good perspective of the foothills in-between Golden and Boulder.
Note - Last time I was there, the park was covered in trash that must have blown in from somewhere, it was a real shame. If anyone works for a group that can organize a clean-up, this park could use it. I called the City of Arvada and they said they would follow up on it, but I haven't heard anything nor been back since.