Bear Creek Park, Denver Parks & Recreation
Distance: 1.2 mi (Round Trip)
Date Hiked: February 24, 2014
Bear Creek Park is a small open space area along Bear Creek. Bear Creek Park connects to the Bear Creek Trail which extends from the South Platte Trail all the way to Pence Park near Evergreen, Colorado.
While Bear Creek Park provides only a short hike, it is ideal for a quick after work jaunt or a child friendly afternoon (the park also has a playground and playing field). With both paved and natural surface trails this park has something for everyone. Late afternoon and early evening visits allow for very pleasant photography along Bear Creek and various ponds provide a naturally serene setting.
Bear Creek Park Map (Denver P&R)
Map of Bear Creek Park (Google Maps)
Monday, February 17, 2014
Steamboat Lake State Park - Winter Snowshoe
Date Hiked: February 17, 2014
Distance: 1 mi (RT)
Elevation Min/Max: 8,020 to 8,075ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 40º 48' 29" N; 106º 57' 13" W
Managing Agency: CO Division of Parks & Wildlife
Steamboat Lake State Park Trails Page
Directions: From Steamboat Springs take Elk River Road (129) north for almost 30 miles to Hahn's Peak Village, a beautiful small town just to the east of Steamboat Lake. The visitors center is just across the road from the village.
Steamboat Lake State Park is stunning! In winter it is a magical place. But it is cold, very cold, really very cold... When I went to the park early in the morning on President's Day, it was -6 degrees. It was one of those bluebird days after a fresh dumping of snow. But the wind was blowing a steady breeze and it was almost unbearable. That's OK though because my main intention was to test out a new camera lens by photographing Hahn's Peak and Steamboat Lake has a great view of Hahn's Peak without any effort.
I wound up just doing about 1 mile on the groomed ski trails but there are many opportunities for longer snowshoe hikes in the park. The overlook of the lake is only about a .25 mi walk from the parking lot and there are many trails that explore the deeper regions of this wonderful place.
Sunday, February 16, 2014
Howelson Hill Nordic Center
Date Hiked: Feb 16, 2014
Distance: 1.2 mi (RT) many options for longer hikes
Elevation Gain: 250ft
Elevation Min/Max: 6,706 to 6,931ft
Managing Agency: City of Steamboat Springs
Howelson Hill Nordic Trail Maps (Steamboat Springs)
Howelson Hill Trail Map (Google Maps)
Directions: In downtown Steamboat Springs, from Hwy 40, head south on 5h Street as it crosses the Yampa River. Turn right on Howelson Pkwy and park in the main parking area. The Nordic Center is at the base of the ski area.
The Howelson Hill Ski Area is a city owned ski hill, terrific for kids and beginner skiers. Howelson Hill also has a wonderful nordic center. The trails are great for both snowshoes and cross country skiing as they are groomed daily. There are trails for all skill levels, but on snowshoes there is really no difference. Following the trails is easy and you can make your own trail combinations as you work your way up the hill. As you get higher the trees get shorter, the exposure increases, and the depth of the snow off trail increases so be careful.
I didn't really follow a trail here, I kind of jumped around so I won't give you the step be step details. The lodge as the base has trail maps and can give you information on the various loops. It is basically impossible to get lost here so explore and have fun.
Saturday, February 8, 2014
Columbine Point, Snow Mountain Ranch
YMCA of the Rockies
Date Hiked: February 8, 2014
Distance: 1.8 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 200ft
Elevation Min/Max:8,661 to 8,858ft
Managing Agency: YMCA
Snow Mt. Ranch Nordic Map (YMCA)
Columbine Point Trail Map (Google Maps)
Directions: From Denver, head west on I-70 to the I-40 Empire/Winter Park exit. Head north on I-40 over Berthoud Pass and down through Winter Park and Fraser. When you see the sign for Snow Mountain Ranch, turn left onto 53. Follow signs to the Nordic Center, there is a fee to use the trails here.
Snow Mountain Ranch is a nice spot to play in the snow in the Winter Park area if you don't want to ski at Winter Park. The Nordic Center has groomed cross country ski trails as well as snowshoe trails. There is also a small lodge with food and gear rentals. This is a great place to take the kids.
The snowshoe hike to Columbine Point is a nice, short showshoe that will get your blood pumping, even with the minor 200 ft elevation gain (remember that snowshoes basically double your stats, making a 2 mi hike feel like a 4 mile). From the nordic center, follow the Snowshoe Hare trail to the Milligan Trail, you'll see signs pointing to Columbine Point. The destination is a gazebo at the top of an open sloping meadow with nice views of the surrounding mountains.
This is an easy snowshoe but there are many more options here, you can spend all day on the trails, or just a quick romp before retreating to the lodge for a hot drink, maybe some whiskey for the adults...
Sunday, February 2, 2014
South Boulder Creek Trail
City of Boulder Open Space and Mountain Parks
Date Hiked: February 2, 2014
Distance: 3 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 200ft
Elevation Max/Min: 5,447 to 5,650ft
S.Boulder Creek West Trailhead Trail Map (OSMP)
S. Boulder Creek Trail Map (Google Maps)
Directions: From Boulder travel south on Hwy 93. Turn Right into the Trailhead and Parking Area.
The South Boulder Creek Trail is a popular and easy going trail. It also provides access to the Mesa Trail, Shadow Canyon, S. Boulder Peak, and Bear Peak. In the winter, it is an excellent way to experience the S. Boulder Mountains without sliding on the icy mountain trails. The trail provides wide open views, nice cottonwood groves, and a rolling terrain. The ease of this hike makes it excellent for kids and popular for biking as well as hiking.
I hiked this trail the morning after a chilling ice storm rolled through the Boulder/Denver area. The result was a winter wonderland. A truly beautiful bluebird Colorado day.