Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Saturday, May 31, 2014

Jim Baker Reservoir

Jim Baker Reservoir

  • Date Hiked: May 31, 2014
  • Distance: 1.4 mi (RT)
  • Elevation: 5,215 ft
  • Managing Agency: Adams County Parks & Open Space
  • Jim Baker Reservoir Trail Map (Google Maps)
  • Directions:  From the Lowell Blvd exit of I-70 head north of Lowell Blvd to 52nd Street.  Make a left (west) on 52nd and make a right (north) on Tennyson.  The trailhead will be on the right after you cross the railroad tracks.

There are many trails around reservoirs in the Denver area and Jim Baker is one of the nicer ones.  First of all the trail is longer than most, but more importantly on the north shore of the lake is a beautiful natural area with a dirt single track trail leading through a riparian wetland. Also, the trail around the lake is not paved which is nicer for walking.  If the weather over the mountains is clear, you get a nice view of Mt. Evans towering over the foothills.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

West & Bass Lakes, Wheat Ridge Greenbelt

West & Bass Lakes
Wheat Ridge Greenbelt
  • Date Hiked:  May 28, 2014
  • Distance: 1.5 mi (RT)
  • Elevation Gain: 100
  • Elevation Start: 5,492ft
  • Managing Agency: City of Wheat Ridge Parks & Recreation
  • West & Bass Lakes Trail Map (Google Maps)
  • Directions:  The Youngfield Trailhead of the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt is the starting place for this hike.  To get there, take the Youngfield Street exit off of I-70 and head north on Youngfield.  Just before the street curves east, you'll see the Trailhead and parking area on the right.

This short, easy stroll has more to offer than you might think.  West Lake and neighboring Bass Lake provide a very natural open space setting consisting of creek-side trails (Clear Creek), wetlands complete with a nature boardwalk, copious amounts of birds and small mammals, and beautiful fall colors.

From the trailhead, head east on the Clear Creek National Recreation Trail, with is contained within the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt.  This paved trail will take you along the north shore of West Lake.  When you reach the bridge crossing over Clear Creek, stay straight onto the dirt trail.  There is a wonderful side trail here that will take you down to the shores of Clear Creek and through a cottonwood forest (look for the covered picnic table).  The main trail follows the north shore of Bass lake around to the east and to the boardwalk that leads along the south shore of Bass Lake.  Once off the the board walk the trail will curve around to the west side of Bass Lake.

Look to the left here for the faint trail leading off of the main trail.  This faint trail will take you along the south shore of West Lake.  The trail may be faint, but this area is beautiful and quiet.  There are various trails here and you have a choose your own adventure type of hike along the south shore.  Bear right at each intersection to stay close to the lake or head left to walk through the woods and wetlands.  Whichever way you chose, you end up at the lake shore and the trail leading back to the trailhead.

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Lonehenge Viewpoint, Douglas County Open Space

Lonehenge Viewpoint
Douglas County Open Space

  • Date Hiked:  May 8, 2014
  • Distance: 5.2 mi (RT)
  • Elevation Gain: 360ft
  • Elevation Min/Max: 6,075 to 6,293ft
  • Managing Agency: Douglas County Open Space
  • Lonehenge Viewpoint Trail Map (Google Maps)
  • Directions:  From Denver take I-25 South to the Ridgegate Parkway exit, head west on Ridgegate Parkway and turn left onto Cabela Drive (right next to the huge Cabela's Store).  Park at the end of the road at the trailhead.

I found this hike when I was trying to hike Bluffs Regional Park but was too stubborn to look at a map.  I saw a trailhead in the spot where I thought the park was, then saw a sign saying 2.67 miles to Bluffs Regional Park.  Confused but not wanting to get back in the car, I explored this trail.  It was a pleasant way to stretch my legs after a morning battling the crowds at Ikea, but nothing all that special.  The viewpoint is interesting, has a nice stone seating area with a compass and map of the front range peaks and a good view of the Denver Tech Center.  But otherwise the hike is unremarkable.  In my opinion, Bluffs Regional Park offers a nicer hike with more of a buffer from the development of south Denver.  That being said, if you are in the area and looking for a trail to hike, you could worse than the Lonehenge View Trail.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Parmalee & Devil's Elbow Trails, Mount Falcon Park

Parmalee Trail & Devil's Elbow
Mount Falcon Park, Jefferson County Open Space

Date Hiked: May 6, 2014

Distance: 5 mi (RT)

Elevation Gain:  1,047ft

Elevation Min/Max:  7,235 to 7,799ft

Mount Falcon Park Website & Map (Jeffco)
Parmalee & Devil's Elbow Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  From Denver, take I-70 west to C470.  Head South (West) on C470 to the Morrison Exit (Route 74).  Follow 74 through Morrison and through Idledale.  Turn left (south) on Meyers Gulch road which becomes Parmalee Gulch Road.  When you see the signs for the park, turn left (east) on Picutis Road.  From here follow the signs up the hill to the park entrance and parking area.

This combination of two trails is just one example of the many trails or combination of trails in this park.  You begin basically on the summit of Mt. Falcon, and descend down along Parmalee Gulch.  The trail is wooded but opens frequently to give you views of the foothills to the west.  When you start re-gaining elevation you will eventually break out of the trees and follow the south slope of Mt. Falcon.  Along this stretch of trail you get  a birds eye view of Mt. Lindo to the south.  The trail continues along the side the mountain until you eventually reach the trail junction at the 2 mile mark.  From here you can either turn left onto the Meadow Trail and follow it for almost a mile back to the trailhead, or you can turn right onto the Old Ute trail to extend your journey.

If you turn right, you will come to two loop trails, I usually take the right forks each time, first on the Ute trail and then on the Devil's Elbow Trail.  This trail gains more elevation and provides you with a fantastic view of Mount Evans if the weather is clear.  When you get to the southern end of the Devil's Elbow you again get a great view of Mt. Lindo and the Great Plains.  Follow the trail back north through thick forest until you close both loops.  From here it is about a mile back to the trailhead and you get to hike next to the burn area before reaching the trailhead.

There are many options on the top of Mt. Falcon and each has it's own reward.  For a great but strenuous hike, start on the east end of the park and take the entire Castle Trail to the Mt. Falcon Summit.  Great training for the high mountain peaks...