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Finch Lake – Rocky Mountain National Park – Allenspark trailhead, Allenspark CO 8/3/13

7 Aug

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The Finch Lake trail

Starting Elevation: 8526Ft

Highest Elevation: 10,165 ( Total Elevation gain around 1900Ft)

Trail Length:  Officially 8.2 miles but we wandered around the lake a lot so we ended up with 9 miles total, it took us approx. 4 hours total

Trail Uses:  Hiker only

Degree of difficulty: Moderate

Bathrooms: None

Pets:  Not allowed, as this is all in Rocky Mountain National Park

Fees: None at this trail head location(one of the reasons I chose it)

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When I was looking for a hike to hit this weekend, I needed something with some views, around 10K at its highest point and 8-9 miles in length.  I had not yet really dug into my Lakes Hiking book from Colorado Mountain Club and this was a great opportunity to see what it had to offer.   Finch Lake did not disappoint and surprisingly, for none of the reason I initially chose it.

Allenspark Trailhead Parking lot

I was honestly surprised at how hard my hikes had been the week before, I mean I knew it always takes me a minute to re-acclimate when I travel back to sea level but I thought with all I had accomplished so far I would bounce back more quickly.  The blister situation had improved over the course of the week prior but were still a significant issue.  I was pretty depressed about the fact that we were once again starting low to work our way back up to another 14er after finally climbing our fist one just a month earlier.  I manged to get over myself pretty quickly because the fact is, these mountains will be around much longer then I will, but if I don’t take care of me now I won’t get to see as much of them as they invitingly offer up to me each week.

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I got up insanely early Saturday, 4AM, because the weather forecast said that rain chances would increase even earlier then usual, around 11AM, and I wanted to make sure we got to the lake and were well on our return before any hit.  We started hiking at 7AM and while there were a few cars already in the parking lot, we only crossed paths with a few other hikers almost the whole way to the lake.

First Trail Marker

First Trail Marker

Trail Conditions for the 1st .8 miles

Trail Conditions for the 1st .8 miles

The first mile is pretty much through dense forest, in fact maybe the most dense forest I have seen since I started hiking in Colorado.  It was like hiking through a Grimm fairytale.  We met our first trail break at a little under a mile in and stayed left, the trail is really well marked so we had no problems following it correctly to our final destination. As we climbed a little out of the heavy denseness, the views started to show themselves, it was all Mt. Meeker & Long’s Peak on our right just getting better and better as we continued on.

Next trailhead

Trail Conditions for the next mile probably the steepest part of the hike

Trail Conditions for the next mile probably the steepest part of the hike

The views are starting out awesome

The views are starting out awesome

At the next trail break, we took advantage of a little outcropping to get some good pictures of the view, we were 2.2 miles away from the lake.  While we were snapping away, another hiker moved on down the trail we had been on.  At the time we didn’t think much about it, but I have to tell you when we passed him, I got the most creeped out I have ever been on a hike.  There was not really anything outwardly odd about him but what he was putting off just wasn’t right.  I used to be a victim advocate for victims of violent crime and I always listen to my gift of fear, the next 1.5 miles were a blur for me as we huffed and puffed to get as far away from him, as quickly as we could.  At one point I was considering what my options for protection were if attacked.  What changed at mile 1.5 you may wonder….. trail maintenance, there were 3 National Park workers improving the trail.  It was an immediate relief and we never saw the hiker again.

Last Trail break before Finch lake

Last Trail break before Finch lake

Trail Conditions through the burn scar

Trail Conditions through the burn scar

Cool Water crossing before we started down to the lake

Cool Water crossing before we started down to the lake

Yay Trail Maintenance

Yay Trail Maintenance

Already fixed trail

Already fixed trail

As we got closer to the lake, we saw the option to carry on to Pear lake another 2.2 miles ahead.

At Finch Lake

Trail conditions by Finch Lake

Trail conditions by Finch Lake

Since this wasn’t an option for us today, we explored the area around the lake.  It as incredibly marshy and at first the bugs were not really aware of us but then I got one quick bite and that little monster must have rang a dinner bell because I was swarmed and attacked mercilessly. I actually squealed as I ran away from my marshy perch, barely grabbing my pack en route.

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We started seeing more people around the lake coming and going up to either the camp sites or Pear Lake but from what I have read, this is a hidden gem in RMNP and so gets much less traffic then all the other lakes in the park.  It’s true, while we did see an increase in traffic after 9AM, it was one of the lighter trafficked hikes we have done lately.  Plus the no fee entrance was a huge bonus!

We turned around and headed back the way we came.  It was like a brand new trail now that there were more people out an about and we were not trying to get away from  someone.  The surrounding mountains  looked even more beautiful ( if that is possible) on the way back and something had shifted in the atmosphere so that Long’s Peak, Mt. Meeker and their neighbors looked extra close, like we could reach out and touch them close.  I LOVE when that happens.

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We ended up taking almost as long to get back because we stopped a lot to take pictures of all we missed on our rush through mile 1.8-3.5.  We finished up the last little bit as it started to thunder, our timing was almost perfect as the rain started up on our way to Oskar Blues Grill & Brew for our little victory dance.

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This is a beautiful hike and one I know we will likely do again soon so we can see Pear lake.  I also think we are going to start dipping our toes into backpacking and this looks like a perfect trail to test our resolve on.   One of the best things was that we were in Rocky Mountain National Park the whole time without all the RMNP crowds or the fee to get to a trail head and it was breathtakingly beautiful!  As always, my favorite pictures after the directions.

Directions:  From Hwy 66 west into Lyons, At the Y intersection in Lyons, turn left on Highway 7 toward Allenspark. About 18.5 miles turn left on Business Route 7/Allenspark. (Don’t take the first Business Route 7 into Ferncliffe.) 0.1 of a mile, turn right on County Road 90 (just before the post office). Travel 1.5 miles to a fork in the road. (There are several, but stay on the main road) At 1.5 miles, take the right fork, travel 0.1 of a mile to the trailhead on your right. There is a sign that says “Allenspark Trailhead.”

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

24 May

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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.

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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:

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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!

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Ben Tyler Trail #606-Pike National forest. 2nd attempt failed- 5/11/13

12 May
The view of our destination from the beginning

The view of our destination from the beginning

When we kind of stubbornly decided we were going to do Ben Tyler Trail (hike details here) this weekend, I knew deep down there was no way in hell we would make it to the top……. AGAIN.  It is really close to Kenosha Pass and one of the areas that probably got 4-5 feet of snow over the last month and then this week we had rain all week which meant snow storms up high, but still we got up insanely early and headed out to this trail.

A little closer the curve of the mountain to the middle right is where we are trying to get to.

A little closer the curve of the mountain to the middle right is where we are trying to get to.

At the beginning of the hike we were really optimistic, the trail conditions were straight up awesome and the weather was perfect.  I mean check out that sky, have you ever seen a more perfect color blue!

No gators yet

No gators yet

About a mile or so in, the snow really was taking over and we were trying to not comment about how deep it was starting to get.  There was only one other set of foot prints in front of us and honestly we were really hoping it was someone who had made it to the top.   We saw him jogging down not long before we crossed the stream for the first time and we were so excited he was actually there today (and not the day before) that we forgot to ask how far up he made it.

Crossing the creek

Crossing the creek

It wasn’t too far after this that we saw where the runner turned around, headed back and then we realized that it was time for gators.  I picked up some new ones at a great price and I am so glad they arrived before this hike because I needed them today.

Gator time

Gator time

Snow is getting higher

Snow is getting higher

At least the views made the snow not such a big deal

At least the views made the snow not such a big deal

We honestly didn’t take that many pictures and when we did, these are all with my iPhone or our Olympus tough camera not our canon, but the day was so beautiful I think it would have been hard to take a bad picture.

iPhone - Aaron's favorite from the hike

iPhone – Aaron’s favorite from the hike

After we saw where the runner turned around, it was just us blazing the trail through the snow.  Which we love but man was it a workout, first a foot, then 2 and 3 when finally we got to the trail marker around 10,000 feet up.

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We were huffing and puffing all through here still feeling good so we continued forward although we knew that it was unlikely we could get all that much further. It was actually getting warmer, the snow was getting deeper and more unstable yet we still had hope that we might make it up a little higher or that the snow would be a little less but finally we had to admit….the snow was too much.

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Before we took these pictures, Aaron slid down almost to his waist, for like a second we wanted to try to go further and try too hard to make it to the top.  But the clouds were really moving in and the reality that the snow was not going down at all hit us.  We turned around and started heading back, as I have begun to learn going down is not as easy as I once thought it was, the temperature had started raising and the snow was melting pretty quickly.  Only from the bottom up or so it seemed, the stress to our knees was intense.

the way back is not so great

the way back is not so great

The hardest part of heading down before we wanted too, was that the clouds almost disappeared and the sky turned this intense amazing blue that made us wish we hadn’t turned around ( even though it was the right decision) because the views on a day like yesterday would have been unbelievable.  I cannot wait to make it to the top one day and we will!

Seriously blue with my iPhone no less

Seriously blue with my iPhone no less

I feel like I had never seen this color blue in nature until I moved here and now I cannot get enough.

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In the end we managed to get to a little over 8 miles of hiking with a total elevation gain of 1700ft but it took us 5 hours round trip. One stupid feeling of awesomeness hit us on the way back, there was another pair of foot prints in the snow that suddenly appeared but they turned around at least half a mile or more before we did.  We got to the parking lot as they were finishing up their de-clothing post hike ritual, 2 guys younger and in better shape than us the look on their faces when they realized we went further than them was priceless.  We could almost read their lips “like seriously they beat us”, it felt crazy great!

We just loved the views too much and our favorite pictures got out of control so forgive me.

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Lion Gulch -Homestead Meadows, Lyons, CO 2/17/13

20 Feb
best view from Meadow loop

best view from Meadow loop

Lion Gulch #949 >  Griffith Homestead #979-2> Homestead Meadow Loop #971 > forest Road 120

Lowest Elevation: 7300 Ft

Highest Elevation: 8700Ft ( according to the Nike GSP watch Aaron wears) We think we had a total gain of 2000 ft with the ups and downs.

Trail Length:  The route we took got us 10 miles give or take a little

Trail Uses:  Hiker, biker, Horses, cross country skier

Degree of difficulty:  Moderate due to length and conditions

Bathrooms:  Yes at the trailhead

Pets:  Yes on leash only, and all the dogs were actually on leash which was a first.  This leads me to believe that there is strict enforcement of the rule.

Return trips views

Return trips views

I picked today’s hike from the Falcon Guide – Best Hikes Near Denver & Boulder for the Homestead Meadows hike.   What is really interesting about this particular hike is that the Meadow Loop itself is an outdoor museum that reflects those brave people who took advantage of the homestead act in the 1860’s.  The original hike suggestion has the hiker starting from Hermit Park Open Space which is privately owned and so has a fee associated with going in that way.  It also is not that tough of an elevation gain at just +720 and we didn’t do a tough elevation gain hike last week either, so I started reading as much as I could on the area and my options.  At the end of the hike description are some options and we took one of those which had us starting at Lion Gulch, this gave us an extra 2.1 miles with elevation gain of almost 1400, not counting the numerous ups and downs so it was closer to 2000 feet in total elevation gain.  It was exactly what we needed.

Lion Gulch & Homestead Meadows Information board

Lion Gulch & Homestead Meadows Information board

Map of the Homesteads you can visit.

Map of the Homesteads you can visit.

Our first view of the hike from the parking lot

Our first view of the hike from the parking lot

What is really cool about going this way is that those original homesteaders would use this exact path to go to and from Lyons and/or Estes Park to sell their goods or work.  I know all the trails have great history, but this one really stuck with me for some reason maybe it was their sense of adventure and hope.  It climbs up and over the creek, crossing it about 10 times, maybe more and in some places there is an option between the horse path and hiker path.  I loved this climb, it was constantly changing between challenging and easy both because of the elevation we were gaining and the snow/ice on the trail.

Hiker/Horse trail indicator

Hiker/Horse trail indicator

Starting to get snowy

Starting to get snowy

mostly snow

mostly snow

As we were getting closer to the top of our major climb, we came across the trail’s ice skating rink portion.  It’s not really mentioned anywhere on any hike description and was a surprise to every hiker that had to try to pass, fortunately we had brought our crampons so getting through it wasn’t nearly as tricky for us as it was for everyone else not similarly equipped.  It was our first time using them and man did they rock, going up was easy going while down was just ok.  Fortunately there was a group of scouts who came prepared and I was able to grab their rope before I bit it.  We think it actually prevented a lot of hikers from making it to the meadows above.

Aaron on the ice skating rick

Aaron on the ice skating rink

My turn ice skating

My turn ice skating

This is also where the trail starts to leave the creek with the beautiful tree cover and opens up in the meadows of the Homestead Meadow trails.

Homestead Trails

Homestead Trails

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After walking up to the main trail break we went to our right, to go past the Griffith homestead and then onto the meadow loop.  I would like to say it was all pretty easy to follow by the trail markers alone but it wasn’t, in fact I referred to my hiking book a lot to make sure we were going the right way for the hike we wanted.   Also this loop is not popular in the winter/spring, we had to walk through a lot of snow on the path and ours were often the only and first foot prints.

Trail MarkerMeadow Loop marker

After we went past the Griffith Homestead we started hitting  that snow and then got to use our gators also for the first time too, it was pretty exciting!  It made us feel like we knew what we were doing, well really like Aaron knew what he was doing because I couldn’t get these or the crampons on without his help.   Plus we were the only ones there, we had the whole loop to ourselves and we loved it!

Stove with view

Stove with view

Griffith homestead

Gators

Gators

The loop took us past the Brown Homestead and we could have gone to see the Irvine Homestead which has the most intact buildings on it, but we decided it was getting late, we had already covered 5 miles and needed to make sure that we could handle the return trip.  It gave us a reason to come back again to check out more of the homesteads.  Getting back to Lion Gulch was easier, that trail was well marked…

Lion Gulch #949

Lion Gulch #949

While there are some beautiful views to been seen once you get to the Homestead Meadows, they aren’t totally spectacular.  Strangely though it is now one of or favorites, the whole trail is just beautiful in its composition.  The way it winds along the creek through beautiful lodge pines and Aspens while the tops of the surrounding mountains are constantly peaking through.  It was really motivating and peaceful.  Then the meadows are rich in their feeling of history and perseverance of those brave people.  I have read it is a high traffic trail in the summer and fall, but it was not that crowded this weekend which is probably not when it is at its best but I loved the solitude we got to have while explored.  It is a great trail and I hope I can take more people through there in the future.   I will put our favorite pictures after the directions to the trailhead.

Directions:

From Lyons, take 36 towards Estes Park.  The parking lot and trailhead  are 12.3 miles from where 7 & 36 split right at mile marker 8 on the left side of the road.

The end of the ice is so close....

The end of the ice is so close….

Cool looking tree

Cool looking tree

View back towards Lion Gulch after reaching the next section of trail

View back towards Lion Gulch after reaching the next section of trail

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Ben Tyler Trail #606 – Pike National Forest 12/1/12

2 Dec

Our Goal- I think

Ben Tyler Trail #606

Starting Elevation: Approximately 8300Ft

Highest Elevation:  Approximately 11,700Ft ( total gain would have been 3400ft) ….Unfortunately we only made it to just shy of 11,oooFt, we think

Trail Length: 11.5 miles officially but since I left my fitbit at home I have no idea what it would have tracked.  In the end we only made it 9-10 miles due to altitude sickness.

Trail Uses:  Hiking & Horses….No Bikes

Degree of Difficulty:  Difficult – a long in and out with a big altitude gain

Bathrooms: None  and I mean none anywhere close so glad I got over issue with being one with mother nature a few months ago because it would have been awful!!!!!  There is a nice gas station in Bailey as you leave town a Loaf and Jug on the right of 285, use it on the way in and way out if that is something you need.  Otherwise be prepared with ziplock baggies, TP, hand sanitizer and all their glory…..

Fees: None but you do have to register for a free permit at the trailhead. Which would be easy if there were any blank permits…I kinda got the feeling the National Forest Ranger hadn’t been there since September the box was full with filled out permits.  I picked a permit from August and then put my information in with today’s date, mostly because of the time of year we were hiking but I did also have my hiking Emergency Contact fully aware of all of our details.

To be honest we had fallen out of preparedness to do hikes this high but I guess I didn’t really think this through.  My only thoughts were, I need to get re-energized on my life change and I saw pictures of the hike from last weekend with little to no snow showing.  This is pretty unusual this high up and at this time of year so I figured a few amazing views of spectacular mountains would remind me that in order to keep seeing these things I need to be at a healthier weight and stronger.   So I pretty willfully planned doing this hike today.

TrailheadPermit boxTrail sign

We got to the trailhead at 7:30AM, mostly because I was worried at how long it would take us to complete 12-ish miles with a 3400 FT elevation gain, from what I had read it could take between 5-10 hours.  It is inclines fast on these initial switchbacks and then flattens out until the creek.

beginning trailLost Creek Wilderness Pike National Forest

About a 1.5 miles in the trail has an option to go either over the creek or stay straight.  Stay straight, in a half a mile the trail will cross the creek at this second point.  This is the route you want to be on.

1st river crossingStay Straight at first creek crossing2nd creek crossing

The next 2 miles go through the most amazing Aspen grove I have ever seen, it is over 3000 acres large and here the grade got pretty steep as we climbed to our goal.

Aspen GroveAspen Grove to the other mountain

As we climbed out of the Aspen grove, the views started to really open up, unfortunately so did the dizziness….

View ove 10k close to the treeline

While we climbed through the first 2 miles we were right on track at 2 miles an hour, when we go to this point I saw it had taken another 2 hours to go just 2-3 miles…… I am guessing here, but I think we were really close to the next trail break which is at 11,000Ft and almost 5 miles.  I kept stopping Aaron and making him wait while I dealt with my dizziness really slowing us down.  Then he checked his blood sugar (He is a type 1 diabetic) unfortunately he was REALLY high, but the real problem was that he thought he was really low because he was having vertigo with visual issues.  Needless to say, we made the decision to turnaround at that point, as a result no fun pictures other than those I took of trail specs with my iPhone.  We immediately went down as quickly as we could and then drank as much water as was possible.  It was a first for us and as we slowly went down battling our nausea and dizziness, I realized everything I had done wrong.

When we were doing trails this high a few months ago, I very carefully planned each hike to climb one week a little higher and then the next week going just below that, building until we  ended  with our first 13,000+ foot peak, Mt. Flora.  But up to this hike, the past 5-8 hikes had all been around or below 8300Ft.  It was the first failure in a really long time, 6 months in fact, and it hurt both literally and figuratively…..

Honestly this trail was amazing and this is way off-season.  There was only one other couple we saw in 6 hours of hiking, but again this is off-season for hiking it the best time to hike it is late spring/summer and fall.  Really I bet in Fall this is the gem you can’t miss doing with that 3000 acre Aspen grove…. we are so doing this again and I hope soon.

Directions:  From Denver, drive South on U.S. 285 and when you get to Bailey, the trailhead is just under 7 miles further on the left (South) side of U.S. 285.  The parking lot is small and maybe looks more like a shoulder , it can’t hold more than 10 cars so get there early – well only during the busier times now come when you want!

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Butler Gulch, Empire/Idaho Springs CO 9/8/12

8 Sep

Butler’s Gulch Trail

Starting Elevation:  10,500ish

Final Elevation :  11,900+ if you go all the way to the Jean Mine  ( 1400 ft elevation gain)

Trip Length: 6 miles round trip, if you aren’t over protective of your lower carriage civic that doesn’t seem to like the way the road looks after the parking lots.  If like us, the dirt road freaked you out, walking from the parking lot to the trailhead might add another .5 miles total.

Trail Uses:  Hiker, Biker, Horses, snow shoe – no motorized vehicles

Degree of difficulty:  Moderate – mostly because of the altitude

Bathrooms:  No – must be ok with peeing outside so pack your ziplock baggie and toilet paper.  There is an outhouse on the paved road going to the access road and out, the Bend picnic area is closest- all part of the National Forest.

Pets:  Yes, dogs are allowed  and can be off leash as it is in National Forest …

One of  my husband’s coworkers told him about this trail in July and that same week I had read about it on a blog I have been following on hiking.  It seemed like a good choice because it was close to the same elevations we did last week and was decidedly described as something not too challenging outside of the elevation part of it.  After 3 weeks of progressively harder hikes we needed a week of something a little easier.   From what I read, the best time to do this hike is June/July- ish as the flowers are AMAZING or to snow shoe it in the winter.  We of course went today so there were no flowers or snow but it was still a great hike and beautiful, as it seems everything is in Colorado.

We got there pretty early considering the hour drive, and we were walking by 8AM.  It is right by the Henderson Mine outside of Empire,  there are 2 parking lots on the left shortly after you get on the dirt road, you can park here and walk up to the trail, it’s not far.  Or you can continue up the road and then park by the gate at the start of the trail, along the side of the road.   My little Civic started crying when we were at the parking lots, so we decided walking was better than bottoming out the car and just parked it.  We were probably over-cautious, but we are Chicagoans at heart and dirt roads are foreign to us, well me really and I was driving.

The trail is essentially the old road up to the old mine….it is nice and big and has a steady incline.  It is covered with trees and runs along a stream , it also requires you cross over this stream several times throughout the hike.  We started early so it was relatively cold on this September morning, in the 40’s, and completely alone.  There was one other car in the parking lot but it looked like it had been there for a while.  For all of our talk of wanting to be alone on a trail, it was kind of weird.   I had a small heart attack when we scared a large bird ( sounded HUGE) and it took off  with its enormous  wings beating very loud, and this is completely irrational, but I immediately thought BEAR!

At about  1.5 miles, we had crossed the stream 3-4 times when we came up to the falls they aren’t huge but still lovely!

The trail did increase in its incline from this point, but really the altitude is the bigger challenge. It is not too long from here to reach the bowl and old mine that is our goal.   Coming out from the trees was really beautiful, suddenly we were there.  The trail wound around the shelf to the Jean Mine, which has a lot remains of when the mine was active:

This is a great hike, we are coming back next summer to see the flowers everyone else raves about.

When we headed back down, we came across a few groups ( 6-7) of hikers and they were all so nice and chatty!  It was the least crowded trail we have done yet and it had the nicest hikers.

Going down was fast, had we not killed time taking pictures we would have cruised through the whole trial in probably 3-3;30 hrs, but we have a new camera and can’t stop playing with it so it took us much longer……

There was one thing that was really annoying, I couldn’t find a map of the trail anywhere.  There are topography maps but they weren’t that detailed and hard to print off.  Otherwise this is a must do!

To get to Butler Gulch take 70 west,  exit #232 – Highway 40 towards Winter Park/Empire go 9-10 miles on highway 40.  Turn off of Highway 40 at Henderson Mine Road heading due west for 1.8 miles towards the Henderson Mine. Just before the mine, a dirt frontage road splits off and parallels the paved road.  Continue on this dirt road until the parking area right at the junction with the Jones Pass Road.  Park along the side of the road by a large gate or at the parking lots at the beginning of the frontage road.

Some more pictures: