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Matthews/Winters Park, Lakeview CO Hiked 5/17/14

23 May

best view

Zorro Trail> Dakota Ridge Trail> Village Walk>Red Rocks Trail> Morrison Slide> Red Rocks Trail> Dakota Ridge> Zorro Trail

Starting elevation: 6055 ft

Highest Elevation: 6800ft ( total Elevation gain was around 1600 ft)

Trail Length: Approximately 9 miles, it took us 4 hours to do the whole hike

Trail Uses: Some sections are hiking & horses only, most are hiker, biker & horses

Degree of Difficulty:  Moderate-mostly because of length

Fees:  None

Bathrooms:  At the parking lot of both Green Mountain and Matthews/Winters Park parking lots

Pets:  Yes – On Leash

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At 5PM on Friday I found our hike for the weekend, it didn’t give me the climbing I wanted for the but it did give us some good mileage plus we had never done this one, extra bonus.  I had wanted to do this one for over a year, but I had written across the map “lots of snakes only hike in winter”  and yet this winter we were obsessed with snowshoeing and completely forgot about this one.

Saturday was strangely humid for Denver so when we pulled up to the trailhead we were cold but determined to not overdress this time.  We actually parked in the lot for Green Mountain (hike details)in Lakewood because that was the best place to start for the loop hike we wanted to attempt.

Starting out

Starting out looking towards the trailhead

The trailhead across Rooney Road

The trailhead across Rooney Road

Zorro is a nice easy climb up about 500 ft over the course of almost of a mile to the Dakota Ridge Trail.  The bad part of this section is all the noise from 470 on this side and then when we got over the ridge, I70 noise was also super loud.

One of the views as we approached the top of Zorro

One of the views as we approached the top of Zorro

Some rocky steps close to the top of Zorro.

Some rocky steps close to the top of Zorro.

As we were on this side of the mountain or hogback, there were clouds all over the front range and they were low.  Green mountain just across the road was covered in clouds, when we got to the top it was all blue skies over Red Rocks.

Green Mountain all cloudy

Green Mountain all cloudy

Dakota Ridge Trail - Go right.

Dakota Ridge Trail – Go right.

Yay Blue skies

Yay Blue skies

Me on Dakota Ridge with Red Rocks in the background

Me on Dakota Ridge with Red Rocks in the background

We walked along this until we crossed over to the west side and through some trees, had a small break from traffic noise until we could see I70 and then the noise was all back.  We could also see the parking lot for Matthews/Winters Park below us.

Coming down Dakota Ridge

Coming down Dakota Ridge

There is Matthews/Winters Park...and I70

There is Matthews/Winters Park…and I70

Coming down Dakota Ridge was the most muddy part of the whole hike but wasn’t super bad and before we knew it we were at the road crossing to get to the next set of trails.

Matthews/Winters Park

Matthews/Winters Park

Trail Map

Trail Map

As we got to the next section of our hike, there were a bunch of vault toilets that we could take advantage of.  It was also the start of all of this fantastic red beauty and because of all the snow the weekend before, the green was amazing against the red.  We took Village Walk ( no Bikes allowed) To the Red Rocks Trail.

Changing over from Dakota Ridge to Village walk.

Changing over from Dakota Ridge to Village walk.

The next trail section starts just after this creek crossing.

The next trail section starts just after this creek crossing.

Village walk

There is an old Cemetery just off the Village Walk Trail.

There is an old Cemetery just off the Village Walk Trail.

Red Rocks goes back to bikers and hikers

Red Rocks Trail start

Red Rocks Trail start

I have to tell when we got to this part of the hike, I was so glad it snowed the week before because the flowers were so plentiful and as we got to the lowest part on this trail there was an oasis of green & red with the running water was stunning.  It was the best part of the hike!

An Oasis

An Oasis

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From here we started climbing back up to the Morrision Slide trail, which climbs up to a lovely flat with lots of views of everywhere we had been so far and where we were going.  It is also the highest part of the hike.

Picking up Morrison Slide

Picking up Morrison Slide

Views of Red Rocks and the Part of Dakota Ridge we had already been on

Views of Red Rocks and the part of Dakota Ridge we had already been on

Morrison Slide flat part on a beautiful day

Morrison Slide flat part on a beautiful day

After the beautiful flat top of Morrison Slide we started descending back to Red Rocks Trail.

Back on Red Rocks Trail

Back on Red Rocks Trail

Trail Conditions coming down Red Rocks Trail

Trail Conditions coming down Red Rocks Trail

I have to tell you coming down this portion of red rocks trail was really hard to not keep looking behind us as it was just a perfect view.  Which made the next section a little disappointing because it was detour on a regular road with car traffic, down to the other side of the Dakota Ridge Trail which also is known as Dinosaur Ridge.  I saw that the construction in Red Rocks had forced a detour of the trail but I never guessed it was actually on the road.

Boo - Detour :(

Boo – Detour 😦

Crossing over to the Dinosaur Ridge part and a closed road.

Crossing over to the Dinosaur Ridge part and a closed road.

This is cool!

This is cool!

I have heard about this place but I have to tell you it was way cooler then I thought it would be.   They left dinosaur bones in the rock so that people could see what they look like when they are discovered!  We were like little kids checking it all out, oohing and ahhing

Dinosaur bones

As we finished up reading about all the bones and the changing landscape, we got back to the original Dakota ridge trail.

End of detour

no more paved road

no more paved road

This last section of the hike was all white and felt so different from the rest of the hike and I loved the change!

The last stretch

I really enjoyed this hike and I honestly think we did it with perfect conditions, on the best day possible.   It is a really exposed trail which means in the summer it is likely HOT, I mean it didn’t get much above 60 while we were hiking and the sweat was pouring off of us-now I get why there are typically a lot of snakes here.   The downside(outside of the snakes of course) is how close it is to both 470 & I70, the noise went away for a good portion of the hike but when it was around it was pretty bad.   Despite that, I will for sure do it again and likely bring guest hikers here because of the great views of Red Rocks.  After the directions will be pictures of all the flowers we had the good fortune to catch before they burn off in the sun.

This 3 day weekend we will get in 2 hikes that will both likely be repeaters!  I hope you all have great plans for the holiday weekend that includes a hike!  Life is too short… you should hike more!

Directions: Take I-70 West from Denver for about 9 miles to C470-East exit (exit 260). Go about 2 miles on C470 East and take the Alameda Parkway exit. Turn right onto Alameda Parkway, then take your first right onto Rooney Road. Go about 1.5 miles and the trail head parking lot will be on your right.

flowers 1 flowers2 Flowers 3 flowers4

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My hiking adventures on 1/18 & 1/19/14

28 Jan

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My one goal this past weekend was just to make it above 9000Ft on our hike.  I had wanted to hit a new trail and then we got on I70 going west on a Saturday morning.  It was a parking lot even before Evergreen which is pretty bad.  With the traffic nightmare ahead of us, I just pulled off at Evergreen and hit Bergen Peak( Hike details here).  It gets above 9500Ft and is an excellent workout.  Can I tell you how nice it was to have the knowledge to switch hikes at the drop of a hat!  It was a proud moment for me.

Traffic with a view

Traffic with a view

The trail wasn’t too bad at all, yes there was snow and ice but not near the levels it was last spring or even this past fall.  In fact, it had less snow than Evergreen Mt the weekend before, which is just down the road from it.  It did still slow us down, that and hiking with our new backpacks on with some added weight made the whole hike take about 5 hours.  It felt great!  I was exhausted from the added intensity that snow brings to a hike.   Plus the day was almost perfect with beautiful blue skies and almost no wind.

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Oh and everyone must have been skiing, because we practically had it to ourselves until the last mile down.  A great day of hiking for sure.

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We felt very good Sunday morning and so suited back up and hit an easy 5 miles at South Valley Ranch.  I felt so good, in fact, I added 5 lbs to my backpack for Sunday’s hike which effectively made it suck.  Who knew 5 lbs would kill me like that!?!?!  I was like the little kid being dragged along with my head and shoulders hanging down the whole way.  And while Aaron was sweet enough to offer to take my extra weight, I refused because how else am I going to get used to it if I just throw stuff in his pack when it starts to feel hard.  It made our quick 5 miles take a little longer then we hoped.

The day itself was AMAZING – 63 and sunny.  We were hiking in shorts and just our shirt.  Being on this trail on a nice day showed how insanely busy it gets.  We were hiking with 100 or more other people, while more were showing up all the time.

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Last Thursday I got to go to Seattle for a weekend of fun with my bestie Jason and his fiancé Molly, so no hike last weekend, but we plan to make up for it with 2 hikes again this weekend.  I need to get my altitude lungs back quick because on 2/8 is our all day guided snow shoe and I am crazy excited for it.

I am itching to get out and hike now, it is going to be a long week of work!

Get out there and hike if you can!

South Valley Ranch, Littleton CO hiked 1/4/14

8 Jan

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Swallow Trail>Coyote Trail> Parking lot:

Lowest Elevation: 6000 Ft

Highest elevation: 6000 Ft

Trail Length: 2.8 officially for one loop around, we did it 2 times for about 5.5-6 miles

Trail uses: Hiker

Degree of Difficulty:  Easy

Fees:  None

Bathrooms: Yes

Pets: Yes

trail condiitons

It was crazy>thinking those weather forecasters might have it right.  I laughed when Al Roker on the Today show said we would get 6-10 inches of snow on Saturday, because our weather people were saying trace amounts… maybe 2 inches on the front range at the most.  Plus it was like 62 degrees on Friday so how bad could it be?

Apparently way worse than I thought, especially for my civic. That was bad decision #1, taking my Civic and not our CRV.

The first trail we planned on was to get over 8000 Ft.  and along 70, which seemed impossible to get to about 10 minutes into the drive with terrible roads and pretty heavy snow fall.  I switched directions going south thinking it would be lighter… again based on our weather forecasters.  It was a slow but not bad drive and until I pulled on to the final road to the trail head, I got stuck  about 200 feet in.  Stupid decision #2, as it is a pretty steep uphill drive on a semi residential road that likely never gets plowed.  The deer 4 feet away from where we got stuck actually had looks of disdain on their faces clearly thinking “stupid human”

This super nice guy driving past asked if we were ok and I said um…. I think we are stuck.  He acted as a spotter while I drove down the road in reverse, taking advantage of gravity to get unstuck.  Thank goodness for physics! When we got back on the road he seriously offered to drive us up to where we needed to go.  How nice is that!?!?!?  We didn’t take him up on his offer but instead hit South Valley Ranch  on the road back towards home, a park  I honestly thought I would never hike.

South Valley Ranch is a pretty easy hike with a simple 2.5 mile loop and almost no elevation gain, but the parking lot is totally flat and on the same level as the road for a hopefully easy out.  AKA perfect in bad weather for a low clearance Civic.

South Valley Ranch Trail map

South Valley Ranch Trail map

As we bundled up, I was super stressed about not being able to get out ever (drama queen) and thinking who do I know that lives close to here that I could hike to if we get stuck.  In case you’re wondering, I have 2 friends a few miles away we could have hiked to if necessary.

The trail starts out on the right of the parking lot, even with the snow it seemed pretty wide and level.  In just .4 miles you hit the first trail break and we decided to go left, it is a simple loop so left or right is about the same.  The first time through we could actually see Lockheed Martin and the community directly North of the park plus some of the mountains south of us on the trail.  The snow was surprisingly deep too, like 3-4 inches, stupid weather people.

We went left here

We went left here

It was actually a lovely hike and we had it mostly to ourselves, I guess others were making smarter decisions about going out in the bad weather then I was.   We came up to this other trail break where, if the weather was better I think we could have taken it all the way to Deer Creek Canyon.

We went right onto Swallow Trail

We went right onto Swallow Trail

trail condiitons

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It is not too far to the 2nd parking lot which actually had more cars than I expected.

2nd Parking lot

2nd Parking lot

Picnic Area by the 2nd parking lot

Picnic Area by the 2nd parking lot

We just went up and past this cute picnic area, I suspect in better weather employees from Lockheed Martin spend a lot of time over here.

From here we came to the Coyote Song Trail which looks like it goes further north and perhaps up along the hogbacks.  I think another time we might have explored further but for this hike  we just did the simple loop.

coyote trail

Taking the Coyote trail back to the car

trail condiitions

We came across one more trail spike that looked intriguing but again just stayed on the loop.

Lyons back back toithe parking lot

The Loop the first time around was interesting, with the snow giving a nice challenge to an otherwise  easy trail.  We got back to the car at exactly 1 hour and we stopped a few times to adjust stuff.  We did a quick survey of the car to see how much snow had fallen in that hour and decided to go around again.  As we topped the one climb in the beginning, the snow increased significantly.  We could no longer see Lockheed Martin or the Neighborhood to the north we saw on the first loop, then I noticed that our foot prints from the first time around had a lot of snow in it.   I drama queened it up and practically ran the second loop, worried I would get stuck again.  We worked up a crazy sweat and there were even less people the second time around.  We finished in just 45 minutes, thankfully  got the car out and home, no problem.

The park reminded m e a lot of  Fountain Valley Trail ( hike details here) at Roxborough, even the way the huge rocks were shaped along the trail.  I have gotten over my disinterest towards this hike, it would be great place to try cross-country skiing out and a good easy hiking day location, with doing more loops to extend your workout.  On this day the weather helped increase its loveliness but I suspect on sunny days the views  might be a little boring and it is totally exposed so sunblock it up.  I am willing to give this open space another shot, we may even do it this Sunday to get 2 hikes in this weekend… who knows!

Directions:

Main Trailhead: 90 South Valley Road, Littleton.
From C-470, exit westbound on Ken Caryl Avenue. Turn left onto South Valley Road to the park’s north parking area.

South Trailhead: 12399 Deer Creek Canyon Road, Littleton. From South Platte Canyon Road (S. Wadsworth and C-470), take Deer Creek Canyon Road west to the smaller parking area.

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A Thanksgiving Hike – Roxborough State Park, hiked 11/28/13

16 Dec
View from Carpenters peak facing north

View from Carpenters peak facing north

Work has been so crazy and with such craziness means not going home to Chicago for Thanksgiving.  I also don’t get the Friday after Thanksgiving off so no crazy Thanksgiving party or over indulging for us!  I decided that a morning hike would make the day perfect with a nice dinner to follow.   I also thought something easier would allow us to hike twice over the fast approaching weekend.

View from Carpenters Peak facing West.

View from Carpenters Peak facing West.

With just one day off, I wanted to stay close to home so that I could relax and cook the rest of the day.  We also bought an annual state park pass a few days before and so wanted to start getting our moneys worth.  We went to Roxborough state Park and hit 2 trails, Caprenters peak ( Hike details here) and the South rim hike ( Hike Details here) to get a nice quick 8.7 mile hike.  We finished in just under 3 hours and were surprised at how many people had the same idea as us.  Leave it to Coloradans to make sure they keep Thanksgiving healthy!

The day was completely perfect with a little snow on the trail and the sun shining bright.  We were lucky enough to see these 3 beauties right on the side of the trail, it was pretty special!

3 deer just on the side of the trail.

3 deer just on the side of the trail.

I will never tire of this park, every time we are there regardless of the weather it is stunning!  This particular day was no different… if you haven’t found your way out there yet, check it out, totally worth the $7 day fee!

View from the South Rim Hike

View from the South Rim Hike

View From Carpenters Peak East.

View From Carpenters Peak East.

 

 

Green Mountain – Lakewood CO Girlfriend Hike #4 11/17/13

2 Dec

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Rooney Road > To Green Mt Summit trail

Starting Elevation: 6061 ft

HIghest Elevation: 6804 ft ( 900 Ft Total elevation gain)

Trail Length: I thought 4 miles but we came up short at the summit and then went long…. so we got in 5 miles.

Trail Uses: Hiker and biker

Degree Of Difficulty: Easy to Moderate, although I have heard the Rooney Road start point is a considered a hell climb I don’t think it is that bad.

Bathrooms: Yes: at the parking lot

Pets:  Yes on leash only

Fees:  None

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View of Denver from the summit of Green Mountain

I have come across meet up hikes a lot while researching for hikes we might attempt.  A few months ago I realized I needed to spread out, meet new people and learn more about hikes in Colorado.   So I signed up for Meet up… have you ever seen meet up or taken part of an event by them?  I am strangely curious.

There is one group that is a hiking after work group and I thought, why not?  I also asked my girlfriend Lisa if she wanted to try meet up and to submit for this hike….. we both got in.  Come hiking evening, Lisa had a lot going against her and didn’t make it very far, while I went on to finish with lots of curiosity about what this trail looked like during the day.  On the way home we were chatting about the hike and she really wanted to beat it, since we had a girls hike coming up I figured why not.

I usually try to pick easy hikes and this hike is at its core easy, what is hard is that initial climb but the rest of the park is relatively easy.  The trails are very well planned out, wide and have VERY high usage.

On this day, the forecast was for 40-60 mile an hour winds during our hike.  I seriously considered canceling….. but I really super love these hikes with my girlfriends and I  wanted to give Lisa that chance to beat this hike, plus sometimes the weather forecast is off.  So instead I texted them all late Saturday night to say prepare for crazy winds.

We got tot the trailhead at 7:30…. with NO wind (stupid forecasters) .  This trail is really popular and that morning was no different, but we still had the freedom to move at our own pace.  Our goal was to finish and not worry about time, my company was amazing!  They hadn’t exactly worked up to a 700-800 foot elevation gain in just a mile but they were troopers every step of the way.  We made our way up the beginning to come up to the most amazing views of the front range and Denver itself.  The view is always the best part of any hike… oh and I am always looking to gain more converts to my love of hiking…. good views SUPER help with that.

trail 1 trail 2 going to the summit

Karin and Lisa did awesome!  I promised them that we would summit and had own since I knew the  summit was more than they had prepared for, what i didn’t expect was for them to want to do more.  I was thrilled!

Lisa, Karin and Levi( Karin crazy adorable dog) were super troopers in wanting to push themselves a little further to see more and work harder that morning. I said I am totally willing to push when they say the word so we headed over to the tower further down the path.  It was a great morning I could see the summit lust in their eyes, it happens when those views are perfect like there were that day.  The nice thing about getting a taste of summit lust, is it makes you want to see more.  We were talking about harder hikes in the future for more amazing views…. I think I am getting them hooked, yay me more hiking buddies!!!

LEVI!!!!

LEVI!!!!

I have come to appreciate this hike for how close it is to home and how easy it is to get too.  I am looking forward to getting more people there to feed their summit lust.

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