Thursday, December 18, 2014
Town of Frisco
Date Hiked: December 16, 2014
Distance: .25 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: Negligible
Managing Agency: Town of Frisco
Willow Preserve Trail Map (Google Maps)
Directions: From I-70 exit at the Frisco Exit, go around the traffic circle and head south on Route 9 (Summit Blvd). Turn left on 10 Mile Drive and the trailhead will be on the left...behind the Taco Bell...
Willow Preserve is a short but scenic nature trail located in Frisco near the west end of Lake Dillon at the base of the Tenmile Mountain Range. The preserve has a boardwalk and interpretive signs along the way but the real draw of this area is the view. Across Lake Dillon Grays and Torrey's Peaks (both 14ers) rise in the distance. To the west, Ten Mile Peak's sharp summit towers overhead and to the north Buffalo Peak commands appreciation. This is more of a viewpoint then a hike, but if you are looking to stretch your legs after a long drive on I-70, this is a great spot to do so.
Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Ashcroft Ghost Town
White River National Forest
Date Hiked: December 15, 2014
Distance: 1/4 mi (RT) shortest distance, can be much longer
Elevation Gain: 200ft
Elevation Min/Max: 9,393 to 9,595ft
Managing Agency: U.S. Forest Service
Ashcroft Nordic Ski Area Website (USFS)
Ashcroft Ghost Town Trail Map (Google Maps)
Directions: From Aspen head south on Castle Creek Road for 12 miles. When the road ends, you'll be at King Cabin and the Ashcroft Ghost Town.
Our trip to the Ashcroft Ghost Town was a blunder, a beautiful blunder...
Ashcroft is a historic mining town situated in the astonishingly magnificent Castle Creek Valley, 12 miles south of Aspen. The abandoned town sits at the base of Ashcroft Mountain and classic Elk Mountain Range peaks such as Castle, Cathedral, and Conundrum Peaks. Castle and Conundrum are both 14ers. Now the town of Ashcroft consists of an abandoned Ghost Town, many miles of cross county ski, snowshoe, and hiking trails, and a tasty restaurant that you have to hike in to.
During a mini vacation to Aspen, my wife, 1 year old, and I decided to spend the morning snowshoeing around Ashcroft and soaking in some much needed mountain recreation. Unfortunately, we miss-calculated everything that morning and ran out of time...such things happen when you have a 1 year old... By the time we got down the 12 miles of snowy road, we had about 15 min before we had to turn back. It was a tease for sure, but we will absolutely re-visit this area as it is spectacular. If you only have a few minutes, I strongly suggest walking through the Ghost Town, you can see it all in about 15 minutes. The trail is self explanatory and leads you down the "main street" with interpretive signs as you go. Off to the southwest you'll get nice views of the high peaks. If you have more time definitely check out the trail system and hike out to the restaurant if it is open.
Sunday, December 7, 2014
Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge
Date Hiked: Dec. 7, 2014
Distance: 2 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 120ft
Elevation Min/Max: 5,229 to 5,259ft
Managing Agency: U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service
Rocky Mt. Arsenal NWR Trail Map (FWS)
Havana Ponds Trail Map (Google Maps)
Directions: From Denver head east on I-70 and exit onto Quebec Street. Turn left to head north on Quebec. Turn right on Prairie Parkway and left on Gateway Road. Follow Gateway Road into the park and bear right onto Wildlife Drive. Follow the signs to the lakes area and once you pass the 4 way intersection with Havana Street/Wildlife Drive, look to the left for the parking area sign. Park here but cross Wildlife Drive to the Prairie trailhead on the south side of Wildlife Drive.
The hike to Havana Ponds is a short but pleasant stroll along the prairie. The grasses are high and views are expansive. Follow Prairie Trail for .6 miles to a dense thicket of thorny trees. In the midst of the thicket is a trail sign, turn right towards Havana Ponds. In .2 miles you’ll come to a wildlife blind on a trailer and the trail becomes a gravel road across the berm of a retention pond. Most likely, there will be no water in the pond rather a small stream cutting through the dry bed. The trail ends at the far end of the ponds at a dangerous looking ravine and a collapsed road.
Havana Ponds is not the most scenic trail in the Refuge but it is an easy walk and when the prairie breezes are blowing it can be a very pleasant experience. You’ll have many opportunities for wildlife viewing and few people along this seldom visited area. Try the Lake Ladora, Bluestem, or Rod and Gun Club Trails for a more scenic experience.
Sunday, November 30, 2014
North Table Mountain Park
Date Hiked: Nov. 30, 2014
Distance: 3.7 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 950ft
Elevation Min/Max: 5,606 - 6,440ft
Managing Agency: Jefferson County Open Space
North Table Mountain Park Website (Jeffco)
Cottonwood Canyon Trail Map (Google Maps)
Directions: From Denver take I-70 west to Hwy 58 west. Exit onto McIntyre Street and head north. Make a left (west) onto 44th Ave, a right onto Easley Way, a right onto Easley Road, a left onto Ridge and as it turns to the east and becomes Ulysses Road, you'll find the trailhead. There is a small parking area (2-3 cars) to the left of the trailhead.
The hike up Cottonwood Canyon is a favorite of mine. The canyon is surprisingly rugged and you'll have a hard time believing that you are only 20 min from Denver. The trail starts along a dry creek bed lined with Cottonwoods and climbs nearly 1,000 feet to the top of the cliffs. The trail is steady and never too steep and the views up canyon and back towards Golden are wonderful.
From the trailhead follow the Cottonwood Canyon Trail for .7 miles (the map says 1.7mi) to the junction with the North Table Mountain Loop. Turn right and follow the switchbacks up to the junction with the Cottonwood Canyon Trail again. Turn left here and continue up the canyon at about the 1.6 mile mark you'll break through a gap in the cliffs and find yourself on top of the mesa. There is a terrific viewpoint here. This makes for a good turnaround point but I recommend continuing for another .2 mile to the Mesa Top Trail. You'll get a little taste of the wide-open spaces of the mesa top. If not for the high tension wires, you'll think you were in a John Wayne movie. From this junction, you also have the option of exploring more trails on the mesa by turning either right or left and hooking up with the North Table Loop. You can also hook up with the Rim Rock trail, which is particularly nice.