Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Monday, February 16, 2015

Steamboat Sunset

Steamboat Sunset

Date: February 14, 2015

We went on a quick trip to Steamboat Springs with some friends for President's Day weekend.  Unfortunately we had to cut the trip short as our son was sick, no skiing or snowshoeing.  However, I did manage to get some nice sunset photos from our condo.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Walker's Dream via West Trailhead, Mt. Falcon Park

Walker's Dream via West Trailhead
Mt. Falcon Park

Date Hiked:  Feb. 13, 2015

Distance: 3.4 mi (roundtrip)
Elevation Gain: 586ft
Elevation MIn/Max: 7,498 to 7,805ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 39º 38' 10" N, 105º 14' 21" W
Managing Agency: Jefferson County Open Space
Fee: None

Directions:  From Denver take I-70 west to C470 East (south).   Exit onto 285 South and turn right onto Parmalee Gulch Road.  Once on Parmalee Gulch, look to the right for Picutis Street and the sign to Mt. Falcon Park.  Follow the road as it winds up the mountain, turning left onto Comanchee, left onto Oh-Kay, and left onto Picutus, the whole time following signs to the Park.  Picutis becomes Mt. Falcon Road which leads to the upper and lower parking areas.  This hike starts from the upper parking area.

Walker's Dream Trail is outstanding.  The 360 degree views cannot be beat on the Front Range foothills.  The trail can be accessed either from the East, see that hike here, or from the western parking area.  The trail from the west is far easier than starting down at the eastern trailhead and it is better suited to a short relaxing hike through the woods.

Start on the Castle Trail and follow it as it looks down Parmalee Gulch to the foothills and Mt. Evans beyond.  Bear left at the junction with the Meadow Trail and start heading down-hill.  Enjoy the views to the east as the skirt the northern edge of Mt. Falcon's central meadow.  To the east you'll see the Walker Castle Ruins, go check it out, but otherwise stay straight entering through a small gate.  Continue heading down passing the junction to the Two Dogs Trail until you see the picnic shelter where the Walker's Dream Trail intersects the Castle Trail.

Turn left and follow the Walker's Dream Trail up to the top of the ridge. This is the best part of the hike.  There are numerous viewpoints along the way to both the east and the west. Keep going until the see the ruins of the Summer White House foundation.  There is an interesting historical sign and you'll see the corner stone of the foundation.  The view west from here is breathtaking.  You can see the Mt. Evans Massif, James Peak along the Continental Divide and if you look closely you can just see the flat summit of Long's Peak in the distance.
After you enjoy this view, the trail curves around to a viewpoint looking east.  Here you are looking down on Mt. Morrison and Red Rocks, as well as Green Mountain, the Hogback, Denver and as far as the eye can see to the east and south to Douglas County.   Circle back to the Walker's Dream Trail and head back the way you came.

This hike is very popular on the weekends, but it is a real gem of a hike.  It is perfect for kids and adults alike and contains terrific views with a minimum of strenuous hiking.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Lefthand Park Reservoir, Brainard Lake Recreation Area

Lefthand Park Reservoir
Brainard Lake Recreation Area
Roosevelt National Forest

Date Hiked: February 7, 2015

Distance: 3.5 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 969ft
Elevation Min/Max: 10,042 to 10,699ft
Trailhead Lat/Long: 40º 04' 51" N -105º 32' 06" W
Managing Agency: U.S. Forest Service
Fee: None

Brainard Lake Recreation Area Website (USFS)

Directions: From Nederland, follow Hwy 72 (Peak to Peak Hwy) north to the town of Ward.  Look for the sign for Brainard Lake Recreation Area and turn left (west).  Follow the windy road up to the main parking area just before the entrance station.  Park here, the road to Lefthand Park Reservoir is on the left side, just before the Entrance Station.

The road to Lefthand Park Reservoir is a popular road in the summertime.  In the winter, it is closed to motor vehicles and provides a wonderful snowshoe and cross country ski trail.  The road is wide, snow packed, and easy to follow.  The road is marked as an easy cross country ski trail, but it has a few steep sections.  Otherwise it is a moderate grade all the way to the Reservoir.  There are various side trails that you can explore and it is possible to make this into a loop with Brainard Lake.

Lefthand Park Reservoir is a worthy destination.  The views of the Indian peaks are tremendous and in my opinion better than the views from Brainard Lake.  This trail also see's far less traffic in the winter than the nearby Brainard Lake Road, also popular with skiers and snowshoers.  There is not much in the way of directions here, simply follow the road.  There are two signposts along the way to help you make sure you are on the right track.  At the 2nd signpost, you need to bear right, staying on the road.

Overall, this is a easy to moderate snowshoe trail with a fantastic payoff.  As long as the winds are not too brutal at the reservoir you should be able to enjoy the majestic splendor of the Indian Peaks in the winter.