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Lookout Mountain via Chimney Gulch, Golden CO Hiked 2/15/14

20 Feb
Best view of the day before the clouds moved in.

Best view of the day before the clouds moved in.

Chimney Gulch> Windy Saddle Trail> Lookout Mountain

Starting Elevation:  5780 Ft

Highest Elevation: 7570 Ft ( total elevation gain around 1800 feet)

Trail uses: Hiker, Biker & Horses

Trail Length:  Officially Approximately 8 miles, my fitbit said a little over 9 miles

Degree of difficulty: Moderate, it is steep in some parts but I am not sure I would say it is difficult.

Bathrooms: Not at the entrance off of 6th Avenue but there is one at the Windy Saddle parking lot and at the Lookout Mountain Nature Center.

Pets:  Yes on leash.

View from the Lookout Mountain Nature Center

View from the Lookout Mountain Nature Center

I have driven past this hike a million times and I am always wondering 2 things.  First, what a weird place to pick up a trail and second, dang that is crowded!  It has seemed crowded regardless of conditions too!

This past Saturday, I had hoped beyond hope that we would have our new snowshoes but we didn’t so I decided it was time to check this particular trail out.   I am not sure why I have been avoiding this one for the past 2 years, but strangely I have manged to completely block it out of my mind.  It is a shame too because after the first mile and a half it is beautiful.

You start out literally on the side of 6th Avenue in Golden… And I mean on the side of the road.  If I hadn’t passed it a million times I would never know the Chimney Gulch trail head was here.

The pull off On 6th Avenue to start the trail

The pull off On 6th Avenue to start the trail

Starting out on Chimney Gulch

Starting out on Chimney Gulch

The first mile just starts climbing up along the road and the neighborhood.  Before it gets steep, we came to this cement something or other that acted as a bridge over a little creek or drainage crossing.  I only mention it because there is also a path you can take over to your left which seems more likely but it is the neighborhood access trail, not the Chimney Gulch Trail.  So climb that cement thing and cross over, continuing up.

Drainage Crossing

Drainage Crossing

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On Saturday the trail was super muddy all through this section, with the wind blowing good and strong but strangely warm, we were sliding all over the place!

trail conditions on the first half of Chimney Gulch

trail conditions on the first half of Chimney Gulch

After the first mile you come up to a dirt road/driveway… more likely driveway, go left and look on your right and you will see the continuation of the trail.

Me at the Driveway break with the sign Aaron made for my backpack advertising my blog...isn't he sweet!?!

Me at the Driveway break with the sign Aaron made for my backpack advertising my blog…isn’t he sweet!?!

go left when you get here

go left when you get here

Trail picks up again on the right

Trail picks up again on the right

This next section of the trail goes for 1.5 miles and crosses over a true paved road 2 times.  This is a windy mountain road that I assume ultimately goes to the top of lookout mountain too, but you have to watch out for both cars and bikers.  It was pretty slick from snow/ice, we did have to put on traction devices to help us walk through it safely about a half a mile in.  We must have hit at the right time or the wind and clouds kept everyone at bay, because we had most of the way up to ourselves.

Crossing the road to get to the second section of Chimney Gulch

Crossing the road to get to the second section of Chimney Gulch

Icy conditions

Icy conditions

Views are changing

Views are changing

At the second Road crossing you come to this very picturesque parking lot with a great view of mountains and beautiful stonework.  This is the Windy Saddle Trailhead and parking lot where the one port-o-potty is.  From here it is just over a mile to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and top of the mountain.

As we climb up to the Windy Saddle Trailhead

As we climb up to the Windy Saddle Trailhead

Windy Saddle Parking lot

Windy Saddle Parking lot

Windy Saddle

Windy Saddle Trail

Windy Saddle Trail

I am not sure exactly when it moved in, but about half way up this final climb, clouds encompassed the top of the mountain and all views evaporated.  Don’t get me wrong, the cloud and fog brought its own beauty to the hike, but I have no good summit shots for you.  Instead of ohhing  and ahhing at Golden down below, we hit the Nature Center talked to the people running it that and found out that Boettcher Mansion was open to the public right that minute for wedding reception tours.  I didn’t want to miss an opportunity to check that out so we walked through there too.  I am sure the views are spectacular here  but the clouds just got thicker.  The house was hauntingly beautiful in all the fog.

Take the Lookout Mt Trail

Take the Lookout Mt Trail

Trail Conditions on Lookout Mt Trail

Trail Conditions on Lookout Mt Trail

At the Top of Lookout Mountain

At the Top of Lookout Mountain

Nature Reserve

Nature Reserve

Inside Nature Reserve

Inside Nature Reserve

Boettcher Mansion

Boettcher Mansion

We made a super quick descent because it was cold up in the clouds!  There were way more people out on the trail now and much of the ice that caused problems on the middle 1.5 miles was melting at a good pace.

On the way down

On the way down

I will tell you I am not very fond of the first mile of this hike, it is kind of boring and your views are of houses with some of Golden spread out below you.  But once we got to that second part, the surroundings totally changed and it was all trees, mountains and terrain which was all lovely.  I think if we do this one again, I would start at the first road crossing on the second section of Chimney Gulch.   I am not sure how to get to that road but I think  it is the light just south of the turn off for the first section.   If you find yourself in Golden CO and need a good diversion, check this hike out, I think you will like it.  My Favorite Pictures from the hike will be after the directions.

Directions: Take 6th Ave West from Denver to Golden for about 12 miles. About ¼ mile before the 6th Ave/Route 58/Route 93 intersection there will be an unmarked pullout on the left side of the road. Park here. You will see some single track leading up the mountain. Take this.

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Belcher Hill Trail(repeater Hike)- White Ranch Park, Golden Co Hiked 11/10/13

22 Nov

Belcher HIll 1

I was thrilled 2 weeks ago when my friend Tricia from California was in town for a wedding.  That meant I got to spend all of Saturday with her just laughing and drinking…. not so great for my goals but super really good for  my psyche!  We had soo much fun!

Ever dedicated to hiking, I pulled myself out of bed on Sunday to hike, even a little hung over because I can’t miss hiking on my weekends anymore, that next week just doesn’t feel right!  Even worse now, I don’t feel right – but worse meaning really good and awesome.

White Ranch park was really hard hit in the floods we had jut 2 months ago….it has been mostly closed and had just reopened a few trails not too long ago Belcher Hill  (Hike details here) being one those.  We took advantage of that reopening and headed out there that Sunday morning!

The day was just spectacular 68, sunny and no wind what so ever.  It is one of those days where you want to be outside all day long doing whatever makes you happy. Fortunately that was exactly what I was doing, hiking and being happy.

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The trail itself was still rough from the floods with lots of debris, mostly rocks and pebbles pushed down, adding a new  dimension to the trail and some dry debris sliding.  There was also a lot of deep grooves from rushing water that changed the degree of pitch in some places, forcing a lot of the bikers to walk with their bikes.  I also added to the challenge by trying out a smaller hiking shoe size, my feet have gotten a little smaller as I have lost weight and my toes are paying the price so I figured it was worth a shot to go down a half of size.  On the way back down my right foot felt the best it had in 8 months…. my left the worst.  The result of my experiment…. I started one size on my left foot and a smaller size on my right, my feet have been feeling awesome!

Despite the toe thing, the hike was just wonderful there were lots of people out enjoying our mild weather.

Sorry for the delay on posts.  I am hiking every weekend no matter what, last weekend I even got 2 hikes in and both mostly new.   Work has just been super intense and when I am not working late or getting some more work done at home, I am squeezing in exercise where ever I can.  I won’t lie, sticking to eating well has been hard as I am a serious stress eater currently under immense stress, I have really good days and really bad days but my weight hasn’t changed too much.  I swear I will get back on track with telling you all about it again soon!!

me

 

White Ranch Park – Rawhide Trail, *Repeater* Hiked 9/2/13

5 Sep
Beautiful day to hike

Beautiful day to hike

When I have a long weekend ahead all I can think about is how I get to hike 2 times in the course of the weekend.  A hike we haven’t visited forever was the Rawhide Trail  ( Click the link for hike details) at White Ranch Park.  It is now an easy hike for us but it is a favorite one and I wanted to test out my new activity of jogging part of the trail.

I will admit that the original plan had been to do this hike on Sunday, with Monday left as a day to clean the house, maybe get some Halloween decorations up ( yes Halloween…..I am a Halloween lovin super freak) and possibly veg out on some Netflix.  However I over indulged on Saturday during our post James Peak Summit  liquid celebration and I woke up Sunday with the worst hangover I have had in almost 18 months!  Needless to say, I was not hiking anything on Sunday, but I was determined to get my second hike in and so bright and early Monday morning I hit the Rawhide trail.

It was great to see the trial again, the last time we had hiked was when my nieces were here 6 months ago.  The pace we set was aggressive, we really pushed ourselves to move as fast as we could, in fact I was surprised when we got to almost halfway in just 45 minutes and that was with a lot of climbing up.  Then we started jogging all the descents, it was a great way to challenge myself.  Before I knew it we were back at the parking lot in just an hour and a half.

The first time I did this hike, it took me over 3 hours and I was a wreck at the end, thinking that harder hikes were so far out of reach.  To be back here 18 months later crushing it the way we did on Monday….well it was pretty awesome!

These short weeks are usually torture but I have been feeling pretty awesome about how far I have come in my journey.   I am so excited and nervous about our hike this weekend!   We are getting up at 1:30 ish in hopes of getting to the summit by sunrise!  Wish us luck!!

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Elk Range Trail, Centennial Cone Park- Golden CO Hiked 7/27/13

27 Jul
My Favorite view

My Favorite view

Elk Range Trail> Travois Trail>Juniper Trail>Mayhem Gulch Trail> Travois> Elk Range Trail

Starting Elevation: 7750 ft

Highest Elevation:  7900- ish ft ( Lots of ups and downs gave us a total of 1100 feet in elevation gain)

Trail Length:  The whole park can get you around 12-15 miles of hiking but we hit up 9 miles today with the initial intention of only getting in 7miles.  For the first time ever my fitbit matched the trail map information.

Trail Uses:  Hiker, Biker, Horses share on weekdays  – On the weekends it is hiker only on odd days & Biker only on Even days.

Degree of Difficulty:  Easy to Moderate, mostly because of potential trail length

Bathrooms:  Yes at all 3 parking lots

Pets:  Yes but dogs must be on leash and for the first time ever they all were on leash!

Fees:  None

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We are finally healed enough from our tattoos that we can get back to the exercise we love most, HIKING.   3 weeks of not hiking has taken its toll on both Aaron and I, I mean yeah I got out last weekend but it wasn’t a super challenging hike and I didn’t have my favorite hiking partner with me.   Surprisingly 3 weeks of inaction really effected our stamina and strength,  we both were a little nervous about what might be challenging so when I was looking for a trail this weekend I went with a low one and maybe a little easier than what we normally do.   I have wanted to check out the Centennial Cone Park for almost a year but at first it seemed too hard and then it seemed too easy so I kept passing it over.  It was perfect after a 3 week unexpected break.  We decided we would try out the newly reopened Elk Range Trail and go a little further depending on how we felt physically.

Start of the trail

Start of the trail

The trail itself starts out pretty easy and since we parked at the north parking lot we initially started out going slowly down on a road like path.  Look at the cool bench they have the beginning so you can just enjoy the rolling hills all around:

Cool Bench

The park itself consists of one big loop with 2 side loops near different entrances of the trail(s).  One trail is open most of the year except during December & January, the Travois Trail and it is almost 8 miles one way to the west parking lot.  The other is the Elk Range Trail that closes periodically, during May and June for Elk calving and again December & January for hunting those same elk…weird.  The other thing is that the park alternates on the weekends between biker only(even Days) and hiker only(Odd Days), which I have to say I really love.

The Gate and notices for when the trail is closed

The Gate and notices for when the trail is closed

The trail moves across a couple of hills and in just a 1.4 miles we were upon the private property cross over.  It is before the private property, that if you want to try to make your way to the summit of the Centennial Cone, do it here because the opposite side of it looks much harder to navigate.  It will have to be a path you, find as there is no trail up to the top.  We chose to just play it easy today and went onward to the West Parking lot.

Before coming to Private Property

Before coming to Private Property

Looking back at the way we came

Looking back at the way we came

We made really good time to the private property and actually to the west parking lot 3 miles into the hike, it took us just an hour.  Remember this is private property so stay on the trail, it is nice that they let everyone go through so lets all make sure they don’t stop that kindness.

Gates to cross over to private property

Gates to cross over to private property

View of the Cone after we crossed over the Private Property

View of the Cone after we crossed over the Private Property

We made such good time to the West Parking lot, we decided to go ahead and try to do the extra 2.5 miles by doing quick loop on this end of the park.  We were also feeling deceptively good.

The view as we got closer to the west parking lot

The view as we got closer to the west parking lot

We went down the Travois Trail to pick up the Juniper Trail to the Mayhem Trail and back around to the Travois returning to the Elk Range trail.  The Travois to Juniper to Mayhem was all single track through a little bit of tree coverage so our first, and only,  bit of relief from the sun today.

Take the Travois Trail down to Juniper

Take the Travois Trail down to Juniper

Go right on to the Juniper Trail

Go right on to the Juniper Trail

Trail conditions on this small loop

Trail conditions on this small loop

Coming up to the Mayhem Gulch Trail, offers another small option to lengthen you hike to hit the Mayhem Gulch parking lot.  At this point we started to realize we may have over committed ourselves and so we just took the left and headed back to the Travois trail.

Go left and up to get back

Go left and up to get back

last trail switch Fav 1

Strangely, the trail turned into quite the struggle for me at this point.  My feet apparently aren’t allowed to take any breaks, I am awash with blisters…again!  In the end this trail was perfect to help us gauge what we can do next week and how much our break hurt us.  It changed my plans for the next month which means longer until we climb our next 14er, we are both a little bummed but determined to get back up there as soon as we can.

A couple of things to note, this trail is almost entirely exposed so in the summer go early or late and slather on the sun block.   We were thrilled at how many flowers were out on the trail, this time last year it was so dry and hot, all the flowers had burned out this low.  We were again walking through a parade of flowers the whole time and they were everywhere!!!  I am not sure how long this will last so if you think you want to check out this trail go soon to enjoy all the flowers even the Rangers were surprised at the abundance of flowers.  Finally our choice of starting at the North parking lot meant that we went mostly downhill in the beginning and so the return trip was all up hill.

After the directions will some our favorite pictures from the hike.

Directions:

North Access: 4306 Camino Perdido, Golden External Link Icon. Horse trailer parking permitted.

West Access: 2234 Douglas Mountain Road, Golden External Link Icon. No horse trailers allowed.

Mayhem Gulch Trailhead, Clear Creek Canyon Road: From Golden, the trailhead is between mile marker 262.5 and 262, 9.5 miles from the intersection of US 6 and State Highway 93, on the north side of the road.

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Belcher Hill Trail *Repeater Hike*, White Ranch Park – Golden Co 4/27/13

28 Apr

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There is that moment every week when I commit to a trail and I always hope that the weather will let us do it.  This week the trail I committed to was too high up after yet another 2 day snow storm on Monday and Tuesday.  All week I debated how smart it would be to try it anyway and on Thursday I realized it wouldn’t kill us to wait a few more weeks to attempt it.  We needed a good replacement that would be challenging and offer the opportunity to increase mileage easily.  I remember thinking that Belcher Hill at White Ranch Park (hike details here) was one I wanted to revisit when there was no snow.  It was a gamble that there would be no snow here yesterday and while we did in fact encounter snow, it was really not that bad.

trail

It was like doing this hike for the very first time, the snow on the trail in February made for different challenges then yesterday.  The make up of the trail was totally different, there were a lot more rocks to navigate through and where we tried to climb above snow before we were walking through a trench this time.   What didn’t change was the amazing views we saw as we climbed up.  We actually saw Pike’s peak yesterday while hiking up, unfortunately  we couldn’t actually capture it on a camera even though we tried….also there were features of the trail maintenance we didn’t see before like the ramps going up and down about a mile in as we cross over a small stream.

Stairs at the beginning

One thing I super love about White Ranch Park is the rocks and the sand/dirt we walk through.  I don’t know that I have admitted to my love of all things sparkly, but I have an old Vegas lady inside me battling to get out and cover everything I have in bling.  The rocks and the dirt/sand here SPARKLE, like beautiful-glow-in-the-sunshine-I-can’t-stop-staring-at-it sparkle.  I can never catch it quite right but I tried with this rock…every 5 minutes I was like oooohhhhh I want to take it home with me:

rock

In the end, we managed to do the full Length of the Belcher Hill trail, got on the Rawhide trail to the West parking and headed to the bathroom there.  It gave us an extra mile in hiking and +300 ft in our overall total elevation gain.  We had hoped to go further but in the end my feet just could not take much more.  Overall it took us 4.5 hours to hike almost 11 miles with a total of 2300 ft in elevation gain.  We felt like we were really moving in the beginning and today going down was the hardest part.  Also I was reminded that we have to be more diligent with sun screen.  In the winter I was fine just putting some on my face but today we were in regular summer levels of sunshine and so back to what we used last summer.  Funny enough, my hands are sunburned because I had a long sleeve shirt on and my face is pink but the rest of me is unchanged.

We didn’t take many pictures today and of those we took, for some reason there were very few good ones.

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Denver in the distance about half way down Belcher hill

Denver in the distance about half way down Belcher hill

Spring Break Hike #1- White Ranch Park – Rawhide Trail 3/3/13

14 Mar

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My nieces arrived early on Saturday for our spring break extravaganza, they are both in college and decided it sounded fun to hang out with me and Aaron for a whole week. I have to admit I had been planning our week for the past 4 months and was so excited to finally get started.

Our first hike was an easy pick and a must do as my niece Anne was going to be here, so we had to do the White Ranch Park Rawhide trail so that we could get pictures at the Princess Anne View bench with her.  The details of the hike are here as I did it with their mother when she visited in October.

Princess Anne View Bench

Princess Anne View Bench

When Aaron and I were out here the week before doing Belcher Hill there was a lot of snow on our trail but the West parking lot didn’t look too bad. Unfortunately we got hit with a snow storm that week between the and their arrival,  even though the weather was nice most of the week the snow was still pretty deep and then wet, followed by heavy and wet. Typically this trail is a cake walk and my nieces were more than up to the challenge of a snow covered walk, as it turns out I was not! We all strapped on yaktrax/crampons shortly into the hike and were moving pretty good, about halfway through I started working on an epic blister on my right heel and by the last mile every step was incredibly painful. I even tried taking my crampons off to see if it would help with the discomfort but no luck. I was so bummed, I kept telling them to go on ahead and I would catch up there was just nothing I could do at that point. I am not sure how it happened, I haven’t taken a break from hiking or exercising, my shoes were not new or old and I was wearing my usual socks so I am chalking it up to heavy,wet, deep snow.

Start of the trailAfter Princess Anne View bench

In the end it took us a solid 3 hours to finish the hike, mostly because of how slow I was going but also because we took a ton of pictures. As I shuffled up to the car I made Aaron find my flip-flops meant for our hot-tubbing in Breckenridge so I could actually drive to and walk around post hike.

It was so much fun hiking with Lauren and Anne, I was so glad they liked the hike and didn’t mind the snow factor at all. Not even when Anne had to switch out soaked socks for dry ones halfway through only to have those new ones get soaked pretty quickly. My evil genius plan of wooing them to want to live here too is slowly starting to work I think….

across from benchAnne and lauren at viewGood View

 

North Table Loop – North Table Mountain Park, Golden CO 2/9/13

10 Feb
North Table Loop

North Table Loop

North Table Loop ( Jefferson County Open Space)

Lowest Elevation: 5850-ish Feet

Highest Elevation: 6500-ish feet (we went up and down a few times so the overall elevation gain was 900-ish feet)

Trail Length:  Officially 7.5 miles via a full loop and my fitbit wasn’t too far off at just over 8 miles.  It took us almost exactly 3 hours to complete

Trail Uses:  Hiker, Biker and Horses and rock climbing cliffs ( at least 3 designated areas)

Degree of difficulty:  Moderate but mostly due to length and the initial climb but the trail is very nicely planned the declines and inclines (mostly except the first one) seem mild and easy to conquer.

Bathrooms:  At the trailhead and so nice, brand new and super clean….as I stepped towards the toilet a fan went on, I don’t know if it was a heater or just ventilation but I was impressed.

Pets:  Yes – But Leash only.

Park Map

Park Map

Today’s hike was one I learned about from my hiking super hero friend Wendy.  She said that it is a staple for her and her husband on bad weather days and when they want to focus on inclines.  Not because the whole park has hard inclines but the first one is a killer and so they just go up and down it to help them get in shape….after hitting it myself, she has once again cemented her reign as my hiking superhero!  I have been holding it in my back pocket for a bad weather day and today was supposed to be a bad weather day here, so all week this is the trail I prepared for us to do.  It was supposed to start snowing around noon and continue to Sunday, then 1, then 4……it actually started at 2 but then it only lasted for a sneeze, which is way too bad because we desperately need it here.  I guess the good thing is the mountains were supposed to get the majority of it and I think their storm at least came through.

Cool map upgrade

As we went to grab a map and a surprise to me,  they had it app enabled so that you can scan the code and have the park details handy on your phone….strangely I haven’t downloaded the bar code app so we went old school and just took the brochure… But I thought this was so cool!  I love how the Boulder and Jefferson county open spaces are on top of social media and smart phones!

wicked Incline

wicked Incline

Let’s talk trail, we did the whole North Table Loop which starts right at the parking lot.  You can grab it 2 places but either way you are making the climb so like ripping off a band-aid we took the trail that starts right at the park map and heads south.  We huffed and puffed and struggled up an almost 500 foot elevation gain in just  under a mile, it is definitely a calf and butt burner.  Usually this would have me concerned about the rest of the trail but in fact I knew already this was the hardest part but maybe still harbored a little doubt.

Trail marker 1

This trail was recently lengthened, and it looks like they updated everything but I liked this part the best, half the trail markers are on rocks and the North Table Loop is incredibly well-marked so getting lost is impossible.  After climbing up initially,  there  is then a very slow descent that is just lovely.

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As we came out of this beautiful canyon we started getting views of Coors Brewery and then Denver in the distance and for some reason today there was a bizarre fog/smog early in the morning surrounding Denver so my picture wasn’t great but this is exactly what it looked like to us too.

Denver

The trail itself goes from a wide road to a single track and back again which was nice because passing was easy and there were sections we could walk side by side.

Trail 2

If you want to cut the trail down to just 5 miles you can take the Mesa Top trail back to the parking lot, otherwise keep on the North Table Mountain Loop.

trailbreak 2

As we came around the Mountain it got decidedly residential but still very beautiful, I couldn’t help but grab a picture of this house it was so interesting and it kinda made me think of a Hobbit hole…..

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And then the views of the front range just took over, we saw where we hiked the weekend before in front of the flatirons and way northwest.

View northwest on the back end

Then Southwest as the storm clouds started rolling in.

View Southwest on the backend

This is the worst part of the trail in the last 2 miles there is a brief stretch where you walk past these power lines and man were they crackling

Power lines

Just before the second power line tower is the last trail break and then it is not long before you get back to the parking lot.  It is an alternate to the final small incline to the end of the trail, plus residential access we decided it would be awesome to have this park be your backyard it was perfectly challenging and beautiful.

Last Trailbreak

We were surprised at how much we liked this trail, I will admit that the residential views were a little concerning at first but the overall views of the mountains west, north and south not to mention the beautiful views of Denver and Golden, put it all to rest.  We encountered moderate traffic, mostly bikers and joggers and everyone was so nice and friendly such a refreshing change from last weekends bizarre meanness.   I had expected there to be a lot more people there since the new section just opened a little over a month ago but it wasn’t too bad although I am sure it was because of the uncertain weather expected for the day.   One other thing worth mentioning is this trail is entirely exposed, there are almost no shady parts which means it is HOT trail in the summer  so go early or late and slather on the SPF!  There is also a seasonal closure fast approaching on the Rim Rock trail 3/15- 7/31 as it is a nesting ground for cliff nesting birds.  This is a new favorite for us so I hope you check it out if you get the chance.

Directions:

4758 Highway 93, Golden CO 80403
The trailhead is north of Golden on State Highway 93, just north of Pine Ridge Road. There are six dedicated spaces for horse trailers. Left turns are not permitted when leaving the parking lot and turning onto Highway 93.

Us

Us