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The Incline, Manitou Springs CO, Hiked on Easter – 4/5/2015

20 May

At the Top.jpg

Starting Elevation:  6530 Ft

Highest Elevation: 8550 Ft

Trail Length: We did the Standard loop so 3.7 miles

Trail Uses: Hiking only up the incline

Degree of Difficulty: Strenuous

Bathroom: Yes in the parking lot

Pets:  Supposed to be no dogs but there were lots and off leash too and 2 almost knocked me down no owner in sight.

Fees: Yes – $5 when we went last April but I suspect it may go up or already has.

It has been over a year since I posted last and I actually started writing this post way back when we did the hike. I had kinda forgot about the blog except to look up hikes or show friends hikes I thought they might like, but I got my renewal notice a few weeks ago and today I realized I need new motivation to get back on the healthy bandwagon.

A lot has happened over the last year but through it all we never stopped hiking.  Last Fall I had a bad hip injury that kept me on flat short hikes for about 4 months but I started taking photography classes to help keep up my spirits. I have been very slowly working on getting back to climbing since the beginning of the year and had one big set back that was very depressing.

The super bummer, while injured I gained back a lot of weight. So I am going to try this again.  I am going to Germany next week and then when I get back I am full on back to hiking to healthy I have at least a dozen new hikes to write up and I am back at 60 pounds I have to lose to get to my goal.  I am not sure how I will continue with the format, if I will do a weigh in separate from hikes or combine them.  I see wordpress has changed a lot since I was on last so I have lots of new learning to do.

I will also try to show off some of my new photography skills and I am super excited about that.  Another motivation to get back to writing.  Thanks to all of you who have kept checking out the blog while I have been gone, I hope to get reacquainted with the blogging world.

incline sunrise.jpg

 

Now on to this particular hike.

On Easter 2015, since I couldn’t be home with my family I was lucky enough to go on a hiking date with my hiking superheros, Wendy and Didier.

They patiently took us too the Manitou Incline which is known all over the place as straight up torture.  In the first mile you climb straight up 2000 vertical feet. It is used regularly by the Olympic athletes that train very close by and lots of fitness enthusiasts.

We started just before sunrise and thought that since it was Easter it might be less crowded, but in fact the it was lit up with lots of headlamps ahead of us.

getting a sunrise picture.jpg

It is essentially a giant staircase that we were climbing with a couple hundred other people and I know for a fact that it was a light crowd that day. There is a bail out about half way up, and it gets evermore steep after that.  Also the steps aren’t at even height so I often found myself using both my hands and feet to climb it like a ladder at its steepest point.
Once you get to the top, it is amazing views of Colorado Springs and beyond and Sunrise was gorgeous.

Past the bail out.jpg

Looking down.jpg

Once at the top and you have finished celebrating with lots of selfies, take the Barr trail down.  Do not go back down the incline it is so steep and people fall and get hurt all the time.  The Barr trail was updated as well and it an easy decent back to the parking lot. As I recall it is about 3 miles down.

Barr trail.jpg

Barr trail view.JPG

All in all, I feel like you have to do the Incline at least once in your life.  The number of people doing it is so crazy that I honestly never want to do it again.  It is great exercise for sure and a great way to get into climbing shape, maybe just go during the week when there are less people.  I would also go as early as possible and start that one hour before sunrise as it is exposed and can be very warm.

A few more pictures will follow the directions.

Directions( copied from the website http://www.manitouincline.net ::

The easiest way to reach the trailhead is to take highway 24 West to the last Exit for Manitou Springs on Serpentine Drive. This is also the stoplight for the Cave of the Winds. Turn left (away from Cave of the Winds)onto Serpintine Drive which will descend quickly and end at Manitou Avenue. Veer left onto Manitou Aveneue and follow it to a roundabout(rotary). Exit the roundabout on Ruxton Ave heading southwest towards the Cog Railway. The trailhead is located just west of the Iron Springs Theater. Parking is usually difficult to find. Trying to find a close spot usually just results in a lot of wasted time. Just think of your walk to the trailhead as your warm up.

The standard route no longer begins in the Barr Trail parking lot. This parking lot is to be used for the Barr trail alone, access to the trail is now to be from near the old Manitoul Incline Base Station and incline hikers should park on Ruxton Ave.

Do NOT park in the parking spots for the Cog Railway. They will tow you. If you really want a close spot you can pay to park in the Iron Springs Theater parking spots. Last I saw it was $5 to park there.

Prize at the top.JPG

Easter bunny.JPG

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North Fork Trail- Reynolds Park Jefferson County open space, Pine CO Hiked 1/18/15, 3/21 & 3/28/15

26 Jul

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Starting Elevation: Approx. 7200 ft

Highest Elevation: Approx. 8000 ft. You can get as much descent and gain you want just go further.  Our last hike we climbed a total of 2300 ft, most of that heading back to the trailhead.

Trail Length: 9.3 miles one way – Each time we did different lengths but went as far as 6.5 miles one way the last time, for a total of 13 miles hiked.

Trail Uses: Hiker, biker, Equestrian and if the snow ever stayed maybe on a snowy day – snowshoe

Degree of Difficulty: Moderate

Bathroom: Yes in the parking lot

Pets:  Supposed to be on leash but I have noticed that many dog owners ignore this rule

Fees: None

2

Humming Bird > North Fork Trail

It is an exciting moment in Colorado when  new open space opens or expands…. North fork trail is one such revelation that opened/expanded on 10/14/14.  I am not sure, but I think the ultimate goal is have it connect to the Colorado trail.  It goes over 10 miles one way through lots of privately owned land and through a burn scar.  I had read about it and thought it would be cool to check out as much as I could.  To be honest, I was also sick of repeaters which I had been hitting A LOT lately.

Looking down the first incline

Looking down the first incline

The hike we did actually starts across the street from the parking lot.  I think you can pick it up North Fork Trail other ways through the park but this is the way we went each time.  Hummingbird Trail is a steep climb and really the hardest part we experienced for the whole hike, other than that just the overall distance. Plus this initial part is totally exposed and so HOT in the spring, summer & fall so go early.

working our way around

After this initial climb, you come back behind the mountain and get some shade, which depending on the time of year could also mean snow/ice.mud.  But on the hikes in March it was a welcome relief from the sun. Hummingbird Trail is 1.3 miles and then you pick up North Fork Trail.

From this point there are lots of ups and downs, we went through a burn scar and just kept moving south and east.

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It was hard to turn around at 6.5 miles the last time because around each curve was more beauty I wanted to see but I could tell the harder part is the return trip, as we went down a lot more then we went up.  If you find yourself on this trail remember that, you climb more returning than you do on the way out.

Our First visit in January we essentially had it all to ourselves, the second and third visits in March were MUCH busier.  Mostly with bikers after the first 3 miles in.  Which I can totally understand why given the excellent distance and beauty it offers. I am categorizing this one as a mostly cool season hike, because of crowds and how exposed some of it is.

Fav 2 flat for a minute North fork trail

At the times We hiked this, I wasn’t sure I would keep blogging so I didn’t take that many trail identifying pictures. I can tell you it was beautifully planned and the path itself is very nice to walk, AKA not a ton of obstacles like roots and rocks. After the initial climb all the ups and downs are very manageable so don’t scared off from the Humming bird trail.

The parking lot for the open space is huge, which makes me think the park was pretty popular before this addition and only expect it to get more popular.  Also what is exposed… is really exposed so go early or late but remember that along with hours that the park is open which is an hour before sunrise to an hour after sunset.

The “new” trail is really super beautiful, I loved all the challenges it provided and the terrain was different enough to be extra memorable as it changes all through out.  Going from the beginning, through a burn scar and then all these beautiful rock formations it is worth you time.

After the directions are the few pictures that I thought were really great between the 3 hikes.

Directions:

13581 South Foxton Road, Aspen Park External Link Icon
From U.S. Highway 285, drive south 5 miles to the parking area on the south side of Foxton Road.

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Fern Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park Hiked 12/6/14

7 Jun

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Starting Elevation: 8155 Ft

Highest Elevation: 9503 Ft

Trail Length: Officially 7.6 miles round trip but we had to park the car at the parking lot a little more then a mile away because the rest of the road to the trail head was closed for the winter. In the end we got a total of almost 10 miles.

Trail Uses:  Hiker/Snowshoe

Degree of Difficulty:  Moderate

Bathroom:  Yes- when you park at the lot a little over a mile away.

Pets:  There are no pets allowed in Rocky Mountain National Park

Fees:  It is a $20 a day fee to enter the park OR $0 for a year long pass.  We always just buy the pass.

Back to where we parked

Back to where we parked

We went to Estes park the night before to be able to be at the trailhead earlish without having to get up 3-4 hours earlier than we did. This was one we did in early December, after there was enough snow to close the dirt road to the actual trail head but not enough snow to snowshoe on.  Well at least through most of the trail anyway.

After walking almost a mile to the trailhead, we got to the official signs and the parking lot but I have to say that where we parked probably is better because the official parking lot it super tiny like 3 cars tiny.

trail sign map

I had not planned on the extra 1.5 miles that we would have to walk to and from the car so initially I changed our endeavor so we only planned to go as far as the pool.  I had been working like a crazy person and my workouts had been limited so it seemed to me that 9+ miles round trip was not likely.

signage

trail going to the pool

trail going to the pool

We gladly made our way to the pool thinking that would be our turnaround point but the trail turned out to be pretty easy so while we spent a lot of time enjoying the Pool we decided to go on… just as far as we felt comfortable going.

The bridge

The bridge

The aforementioned Pool

The aforementioned Pool

Just over the bridge was where we either went to Fern Lake or other options, one of those being to Cub lake.  I know I want to go back and try that extension for sure!

to fern lake

This is where the real climbing started for the hike and it had a lot more snow then the first part of the hike.  It was scenically beautiful and had some great things to see like the falls.

an interesting stream crossing

an interesting stream crossing

the falls

Which is decidedly not exciting in the winter but what a picture can’t tell is the sound…. the falls were still running strong and it looked like the ice was breathing which was really cool.  I had secretly thought this is as far as I can go but I was itching for a view and we kept seeing hints of it through the trees so I said lets just go to the end of this switch back, get our view and head back….

just a little further

But there was no view… and the snow was decidedly much deeper. But I NEEDED a view. I convinced Aaron to go just a little further… then a little more…. like 50 yards more here a curve there. Needless to say an hour late i was ready to turn around and it was Aaron who convinced me we had to be close to the actual lake and how stupid would we feel if turned around a sneeze away from the lake.  About 20 minutes after that we reached the lake.

the lake 2

I have read that there is another lake not too far from this one but I was beat and we still had to get back to our car.  And frankly the blue bird skies I really waned kept alluding us.  I bet this hike is amazing on a lovely summer day and a really challenging snowshoe on a beautiful winter day.  We were there at meh time and sadly when we got back down to the beginning of the trial the sky bloomed in the most amazing blues. Regardless, I loved this hike and I think about revisiting it often but I want to be there in the summer then make my way up to the next lake or go straight to Cub lake.  I see lots of options here.

Another thing that happened on this trail was that I had decided to stop blogging… weird right? When I was in Germany the summer before my niece Anne had said something that had hit me more then I realized. She said you know banning the taking of pictures really makes you be in the moment and soak in the beauty so you remember it. With work and life getting in the way I have forgotten to be in the moment and soak in the memory of that beauty.  On this hike I took less photos then I ever had before and I am ok with it. I know it has more and different things to offer so I will be there again and again plus I have spent time there and have my memories….

I did get a few gems before I put my camera away and as usual they will follow the directions.  Since this hike, I have clearly changed my mind and want to keep chronically all the amazing hikes in Colorado but I may do it less frequently then I have before.

I hope you check this one out, I know it is worth it even if the perfect view isn’t around the next corner.

Driving Directions:

  • Enter into Rocky Mountain National Park via the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station.
  • From the entrance station, make a left onto Bear Lake Road.
  • Continue on Bear Lake Road for 2 miles, and hand a right onto Moraine Park Road.
  • Moraine Park Road will eventually dead-end at the Fern Lake Trailhead.
  • In sum, you will travel 4.1 miles from the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station.

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Beaver Brook Trail, Denver Mountain Park Evergreen CO Hiked 9/13/14

27 Apr

Best view of the hike

The Braille Trail > Beaver Brook Trail > Windy Saddle and Look out Mountain

Starting Elevation: 7400 ft

Highest Elevation: 7800 Ft ( we did approximately 2000 ft total elevation gain)

Trail Length:  8.8 miles one way 17.6 round trip. on this trip we did 9 miles round trip.

Trail uses: Hiker only

Degree of Difficulty:  Difficult due to length and Elevation gains and losses

Bathrooms:  There was supposed to be one somewhere after the Braille Trail but we couldn’t find it so maybe

Pets: Dogs on Leash only

Fees:  None

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I know I know ….. I am a terrible blogger I have been away forever.  Things have been super crazy in my life but the one thing I haven’t stopped doing is hiking every weekend.  I haven’t done a ton of new hikes but I want to make sure I get them out here, because the new hikes I did hit were all amazing and I want to keep track of them.

I will try and get back on track with the healthy part.  I haven’t lost new weight, but I haven’t gained any either so I still need to lose about 50 pounds.

Let’s focus on this particular new hike – I found this hike in a book, but dismissed it because round trip it is LONG and then a friend told me about it.  Well the first couple miles of it any way and her description way out did the book.  It was easy to get to and had potential great pay out so away we went.

The road to the trailhead does turn to dirt but is drivable with a low clearance vehicle (aka a civic like low clearance type of vehicle).

There are 2 parking lots, one on the left a little higher and one on the right > right on the trailhead.  Both are small and this trail gets good use = cars eventually park all the way up the road on the side.

Parking lotsMap

Trailhead

Trailhead

The first quarter mile of this trail is a braille trail for the blind.  There is a guide rope and knowledge boards in both written and braille.  I mean how incredibly cool is that!?!?!

One of the boards

It was not long until we came to the sign for the trail  and then trail is marked with a B B trail marker periodically. trail marker

this way

The trail descends about 840 feet to the Beaver Brook over the course of a mile and a half and it really is quite lovely the whole way down.

starting down in fashion going down

We got to the brook pretty quickly and just enjoyed the view

BeaverbrookTowards windy saddle and Look out mtn

From here it got kinda tricky finding and keeping the trail.  It winds through and over a drainage stream with a lot of scrambling and trying to get over big rocks.  Look for the trails markers, either the BB or a yellow diamond to keep track of the trail. I had planned on taking pictures on the way back but life happens.

Then it is a steep climb up about 1200 feet  and over some big boulders in places for about 1.7 miles.  It was pretty steep through this sections with some nice sized boulders to get past while climbing up over the gulch the brook is in.

Climbing out Climbin up

We got to the highest part and it was so pretty looking around and down at the Clear Creek below!

Looking down at the best part of the hike Me at the best part of the hike Me at the best part of teh hike 2

Our goal this day was to get to the Gudy Gaskill Loop and then head back to the car looking for 9-10 miles total.  But where we expected the trail break to be it never showed up. We hunted around  for 30 minutes and finally gave up, heading back.

I remember thinking on the way up as we crossed a certain set of boulders how tricky it may be on the way back and man I was right! On the way down, my leg slid and got trapped between those boulders while I fell hard on my butt right on a cactus, I popped up but my leg was still stuck so I had to fall back on the cactus, get my leg out and then I called to Aaron for help.

The cactus was young and the prickles were abundant > fortunate or not, they weren’t very long or hard.  Aaron was trying to get out as many as could so I could walk again but then he pushed a bunch through both my pants and then underwear…. you can probably guess where this is going.  Eventually this random cat call hit us.  It was then that I realized that I was standing on cliff  of the canyon with my butt facing out while Aaron diligently tried to get out enough prickles so I could walk out the last 2.5 miles.

So that happened….. Did I mention that the hike to Beaver Brook and back, insanely popular?

Anyway, no surprise here, all those pictures I planned on taking on the way back to show the trail never happened. Oh and all the prickles were not out. So in case you are wondering walking up a mountain with cactus prickles in your bottom… not fun. Seeing like a million people hanging out at the Beaver Brook on the way down wondering how many saw your butt…. well eye averting.

Needless to say it was an interesting hike with few pictures but huge memories…. interesting memories.

Overall the hike was pretty amazing for a million reasons except the one that may make me avoid it for a while. It is an incredible workout with great views.

There are no favorite picture to share after the directions but I do hope you check it out and have better luck then I did!

Directions:  Take I 70 west from Denver to the Chief Hosa exit and turn right immediately and follow the road down to the trailhead.

Still Hiking, just not so healthy……

1 Aug

It has been 8 months since I have been on track for the healthy part of this blog…. the hiking has finally started to suffer as a result. I am not sure how it happened other than me consciously deciding to not be healthy.  For about half that time, I have managed to ignore how far off the rails I have gone.

Nugget

Not only have I been struggling with being healthy I have been less than forthcoming about my struggles as if they will just disappear.  And not just with you but with everyone in my life.

So this is my confession, I have fallen far off the healthy bandwagon.  I have been way outside my daily calorie intake.  I have had a considerable cut back on my exercising.  I have been eating my emotions.

I have been trying hard to find inspiration, the last few hikes we have done I was sweaty, overheated and strangely struggling with my breath.  I know I have gained back weight but I am not sure how much at this point as I have been avoiding scales for months.

I have to find balance again in my life in terms of how to control my bad eating habits. I have been trying to figure out where is the best place to start ….again.

I am confessing here because I can’t pretend it is not happening anymore I need to be up front about it all.  I am going to get back to my Lose It! app and tracking my daily calories in and out.  I am also going to venture to get rid of my cheat day which sadly turned into my cheat 3 days….I apparently can no longer be at home without a guardian or having my hands tied behind my back to avoid shoveling food in my face.

I have been going to some of my favorite blogs for motivation, but I have to tell you Nancy over at My year of Sweat always makes me think through my issues a little more in-depth then I am normally willing to do  because she is so good at identifying all of her issues, stumbling points and triumphs.  Over the last year she has become my “live a better life” superhero.  If you don’t know Nancy, please check out her blog it is awesome -> just like her!!!

I am still hiking every weekend and I have been getting in as many days as I can, I have 2 new hikes I need to write-up that I did weeks ago and of course I have done a bunch of repeaters.

The rest of my summer I am going to focus on getting get back into the shape I was last fall.  I really want to do Grays and Torreys (14ers) before the summer ends.  I still want to try to backpack, but to be honest I may not get to it until next summer.

I will start listing my weigh-ins  again weekly.

Thanks for being patient with me and thanks for helping me get back on the healthy track.

Now get out there and hike, I know I will be hiking this weekend!

East Castlewood Canyon Trail, Franktown CO hiked 5/26/14

1 Jun

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Starting Elevation: 6604 ft

Highest Elevation: 6653 Ft ( there is some up and down overall I think we climbed maybe 400 ft total)

Trail Length: 4 Miles from the trailhead but we had to park a mile away so we hiked 6 miles total.

Trail Uses: Hiker Only

Degree of Difficulty: Easy

Fees: $7 a day

Bathrooms: There are bathrooms at the visitor center and some of the parking lots.

Pets: Dogs are allowed in the park on leash but on this particular trail NO dogs at all are allowed because of the fragile ecology of the trail.

2

The best part of a 3 day weekend is that it means 2 hikes over the course of the weekend is guaranteed. This was our 3rd walk of the weekend and strangely my heels had been chewed up worse than I thought on the previous 2 walks.  I needed something easy and had learned that Castlewood Canyon State Park had recently re-opened the East Canyon Hike it was rated as easy as well as one of the longer hikes in the Park.  I think everyone in Colorado decided Castlewood Canyon State Park was the place to go on Memorial Day, when we drove into the park the first 2 parking lots were full so we drove on to the 3rd one which was huge but filling up fast.  Besides the droves of people getting some good outdoor activity in, we were now a mile away from the trail I wanted to hit.

The trail from the car to the trailhead was paved

The trail from the car to the trailhead was paved

I am going to be honest, putting on shoes was tough with my blisters… walking on pavement was even harder.  The mile to the trailhead wasn’t too bad but I was trying to ignore how bad my feet were hurting, so far so good….

Trailhead

The best place to park for this hike is the very first parking lot upon entry into the park from Route 83.  We actually walked right past this sign but when we saw a park volunteer he told us to go off the pavement and look for cairns these would take us through the path.

Looking for cairns

Looking for cairns

This hike turned into a treasure hunt at this point, as the majority of the trail was over huge boulders so we were just looking for cairns the whole time.  I have to tell you it was pretty fun, the geology of this place was totally different then what we were used to and so beautiful!  I have done other trails in this State Park but this one is so much fun!  I mean like I wish I had some kids with me fun.   After cairn hunting for a short period the trail goes under Route 83.

Cairn hunting

Cairn hunting

Going under Route 83

Going under Route 83

All the way under route 83

All the way under route 83

Then back to the treasure hunt.  Slowly we made our way down into the canyon where we hit water – slowly not because the treasure hunt was hard but because my heels were in really terrible shape already.

Creek crossing

Creek crossing

Views while crossing the creek

Views while crossing the creek

Other side of the creek

Other side of the creek

After this low point we started climbing again but not very much, we turned a corner and there were these awesome pools with some fun rock jumping…..again perfect for kids.

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It is not far from here that we hit the 1.14 mile loop and all we could talk about was who kids could we take here?

thru canyon

The loop itself was unremarkable and strangely empty of much traffic.  We did get some amazing views of Pikes Peak and all of the front range, plus there were lots of flowers, lizards and an array of butterflies.  That doesn’t even cover all the birds we saw.

Trail loop conditions

Trail loop conditions

All in all it was a fun trail, perfect for a short easy hike when your feet are in trouble.  I think it would be a great place to take kids for a million reasons but mostly because the whole time I was thinking I would have loved this as a kid.  As an adult it was beautiful and fun, bringing me back to those days when I would explore the creek behind a school as a kid.  It is really exposed and so meant more for spring, fall or winter, I would never do this one in the summer unless it was the end of the day or the very beginning.

In the end I had to take off my shoes and walk in my socks the blisters were so bad but I pushed it to the paved part and as close to the parking lot as I could.  I hate blisters and really I am not sure how I got back here but it was a bad place to be after years of hiking every weekend.  We did the whole 6 miles in just 2 hours which is right for easy and had my feet been in better condition we would have moved faster.

This State Park is really beautiful, not just because of the canyon but because of the endless views, beautiful flowers, adventurous trails and fun discovery.  I may not come out here often as I am currently addicted to summit views, but I will for sure brings lots of friends and families here because it is FUN!

Directions: To reach the main entrance of Castlewood Canyon State Park, take I-25 to Castle Rock, exit onto Founders Parkway eastbound. Take Founders Parkway to Hwy 86, go east on Hwy 86 four miles to Franktown. Turn South on Hwy 83 (S. Parker Rd) and go five miles south to the main park entrance.

flowers flowers 2 pikes peak lizards

 

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

2nd creek DSCN1721

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