St. Vrain Mountain Epic Fail- Hall Ranch Park To the Rescue 5/18/13


Last week was a perfect week here in Denver, very warm and sunny with the mountains taunting us all week with their insane beauty.  We really wanted to climb up high and see it for ourselves up close, I know it was our naiveté but we made the decision to try another high hike above 10,000 feet and one that was on the edge of Rocky Mountain National Park which got twice as much snow as the Continental Divide.  I have been wanting to hike St. Vrain Mountain since last fall and by the time I had the confidence to even think about trying it, winter had settled in.   This was the hike we decided to try on Saturday.  We talked about it all week and so were extra anxious to get started but nervous we wouldn’t get very far.


We were right to be nervous, it took us almost 2 hours to go just 1.2 miles and the last time I post-holed it was pretty bad, up to my hips and it took me like 20 minutes to get out…. What we did see was amazingly beautiful and just got us excited for when we could actually finish it.  In that 20 minutes of digging me out, we decided that the only way to salvage the day was to get down as quickly as we could and hit Hall Ranch (Hike Details here) which we had passed on the way up to this hike.

Here is the little bit we caught of what we could see of this trail:



We rushed to the Hall Ranch trailhead deciding to just do as much of the Nighthawk trial as we could and we were kind of excited because the first time we were here it was in the middle of a snow storm so all of our promised views were obscured.

We started at noon and finished at 3:30, the trail had a surprisingly low volume of other hikers.  Which was nice in that it allowed us to cruise up the trail, I think this is the fastest we have ever hiked.  The wild flowers were amazing and the weather was perfect in that is was cool little cloudy but warm enough for us to wear shorts and short-sleeved shirts!

When we got to the top this time the views of Longs Peak, Mt. Meeker & Rocky Mountain National Park were really amazing.  Actually the views all around were amazing.  South, East and North all had different stunning views to offer more than I had hoped for to be honest.

Best view at the top
Best view at the top
Longs Peak & Meeker
Longs Peak & Meeker

In the end we made it exactly to the trail break of NightHawk ( 4.7 miles) and then turned around and headed back.   The whole day of hiking gave us a total hiking of 12 miles with 2300 total feet of elevation gain it was sadly 7 hours of hiking with a 30 minute gap to drive from one trail head to the other.  At first it was a little disappointing to have to turnaround on the first trail, but if I think about where I was 2 years ago or even last year, I never would have made it through one of these trails let alone stopping one after 3.5 hours only to do another one for 3.5 hours.  It felt pretty awesome!

Eastward view about halfway back down
Eastward view about halfway back down

We decided it was a pretty huge win and so celebrated with lunch/dinner at Oskar Blues Grill & Brew.

Here are some of our favorite pictures from the hike!

FavLongs a little outTotal 4



Published by hikingtohealthy

an enthusiastic hiker living in Colorado.

13 thoughts on “St. Vrain Mountain Epic Fail- Hall Ranch Park To the Rescue 5/18/13

  1. Kathy… This is phenomenal and the pictures breathtaking. What inspiring memories you’ll have for your future. And to think about how much of your personal goals you’ve achieved, well, you are inspiring! Thank you again for taking the time to share with us. Keep up the good work! Love and hugs to you both.

  2. We’ll be spending ten days at the Jefferson County Fairgrounds at the end of June through the 4th weekend and can’t wait to try some of the trails near Golden. Any recommendations for a 3-6 mile hike in that area. Great photos……you’ll be doing a fourteener before you know it 🙂

    1. Oh Yay! You should do North table mesa, it a pretty exposed park in general but has some great views and lots of trail options for how you are feeling. Plus White Ranch Park – the Rawhide trial is one of my favorites, make sure you go to the West Parking lot for that one…great views of Denver and an overall beautiful trail. Plus you are so close to Big Bluestem also which is kinda in Boulder…. Let me know if you need more!

  3. Your blog is inspiring me! I am trying to lose weight and get healthier in order to hike farther and do some backpacking (which I’ve never done before!). We love to camp, hike and kayak, but this past summer we spent 10 days in Colorado in both Ouray and Telluride. We were inspired by the beauty. We hate gyms, running, and traditional work out methods, but we love nature, getting outdoors and hiking! After doing a few hikes in Colorado and feeling completely winded on the easy hikes, we decided to hike more often and maybe someday be able to do a 14er! I’m looking forward to reading more of your story as you inspire me to keep moving!

    1. Wow, thank you so much! I am not one for gyms either so it really helps to have our backyard be so amazingly beautiful! It is my biggest motivation! Thanks for checking out my blog and good luck on your journey!

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