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Peaks Trail #45, Breckenridge CO Hiked 5/3/14

9 May

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Starting Elevation:  10,075 Ft

Highest Elevation: 10,221 Ft

Trail Length: We did a total of 6.5 miles round trip but you can take this trail all the way to Frisco for 10 miles one way.

Trail Uses: Hiker, biker, cross-country skiing, snowshoe,

Degree of Difficulty:  Moderate to difficult depending on how far you want to take it.

Fees: None

Bathrooms:  None at the trailhead but the Grand Lodge on Peak 7 is a resort right next to the trailhead and does have public bathrooms

Pets:  Yes – I think they are supposed to be on leash but there were some(most) not on leash

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Three years ago we impulsively bought a time share in Breckenridge and because we have spent that money I make sure to always take advantage of it when I can.  They offer something called bonus time to owners, which means when the resort isn’t full they sell the rooms for a third of the cost they normally are.  This past weekend was one of those weekends there was availability via bonus time and on top of it if we sat through another sales pitch, we got the room for 2 nights for $38.  Needless to say we took advantage of the deal.   The best part of the stay is that this trail we wanted to do is right next to the resort…. well that and the hot tubs.

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The not so great part is the resort allows pets and guess where everyone comes to walk their dogs…. this trail head, where apparently none of them ever bother to pick up after their dogs.   It was a poo minefield for the first quarter-mile, it was actually hard to miss stepping in it all while walking through this first section.

We were out on the trail just 30 minutes after we got up, at 7AM.  The snow was icy and stable so all we needed for most of the hike was traction devices.  The sky was the most beautiful blue, I don’t think the day could have been more perfect for us to be out hiking.  After the poo-field, the trail goes up a little, then down a little then up and down some more.   Nothing too crazy but a good workout on snow and ice regardless.

These trail markers make following the path in the snow easy. Very well marked

These trail markers make following the path in the snow easy. Very well-marked

Trail Conditions in the beginning

Trail Conditions in the beginning

We came to this road a little less than mile in, but the trail was well-marked on the other side.

crossing the road

It isn’t far from this junction that the views just open up on both sides of the trail.

Looking North and East

Looking North and East

Looking West

Looking West

We started to hear the melting snow all over and then we crossed over a snow melt stream, this one is the first of 3 or 4 we would cross from this point forward and while the picture doesn’t quite capture it, we are 4-5 feet above the stream on snow

crossing over snow melt

It was just after this we ended up on a Nordic Center snowshoe trail, which threw us because we didn’t remember seeing a trial break.  Fortunately, I had sort of  remembered from our snowshoe at the Nordic Center(snowshoe details here) that there was one part of the trail system that merged with the Peaks Trail so we kept moving forward and kept an eye out for a blue diamond.  I do have to say when it went off on its own there was absolutely no snow the way it went, I was a little jealous, I am definitely done with snow.

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We continued on and got the absolute best views of the day in the next section which was pretty flat until it started to descend to the three mile marker and this beautiful pool about 6 ft below us but the picture doesn’t show how high the snow was.

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We felt really good and almost went further but we didn’t want to go too far and then spend hours post holing back to the trailhead.  Instead we decided to turn around and promised each other to walk the 2 miles down to town for a little extra movement.  We did walk those 2 miles to town and around town for a total of 12 miles over the course of the day which isn’t too bad.

This trail was spectacular and I cannot wait to try it in the summer or fall, the trees were perfect, the views amazing and frankly I would love to say I walked to Frisco on it.  You can really get out of it whatever you want, just make sure to go a mile to a mile and half in so you can see the best views possible,

I hope whatever your plans are for the weekend, they involve hiking!

Directions:  from I70 to Breckenridge take 9 to Lincoln/Ski Hill,  turn right.  Take Ski Hill for approximately 2 miles to Grand lodge on Peak 7 – drive just past the Resort and follow the road, as soon as it is unpaved you will see the trailhead on the left.

I thought these looked like ice ornaments instead of icicles

I thought these looked like ice ornaments instead of icicles

nice view

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Hanging Lake Trail, Glenwood Canyon CO 9/27/13

15 Oct

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Hanging Lake Trail

Starting Elevation: 6387 Ft

Highest Elevation: 7323 Ft

Trail Length:  Officially 2.4 round trip but we probably hit 3.5 ish with all the walking around we did.

Trail Uses: Hiker only

Degree of Difficulty:  Officially Strenuous, but it isn’t long, just steep so I will say moderate to difficult. The whole trip took 3.5 hours including gawking time at the top.

Bathrooms: Yes at the parking lot

Pets: No and like super no- if they go in the lake they could ruin the nature of the beauty….

Fees:  None

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Hanging Lake is one of those things that everyone in Colorado tells  you that you have to go and see it in person.  Even non hikers have been there, that also means it has insanely heavy traffic all the time and all year round.  I had hoped to hit it earlier in the summer so that when my sister came into town I would be able to prepare her better but we celebrated a little too hard after our summiting our first 14er, Quandary instead it was a cancel and recover decision.

This was the perfect hike to experience for the first time with Mary and it was a nice small step up in elevation to help get to some higher hikes in the following days.  Unfortunately the weather was not on our side we had initially planned a super early departure from where we were staying in Breckenridge but then I backed off because the forecast changed from rain/snow for the afternoon to the morning…

It was full on blizzard conditions as we drove over Vail pass but turned to super heavy rain as we continued down to Glenwood Canyon.  When we pulled into the shockingly EMPTY parking lot, it was just a nice drizzle and there was just one other group of hikers getting into rain gear.  We got out and hit the bathroom while deciding what to do, we were there already and it wasn’t pouring anymore so we decided to go for it.

Trail sign Start of the trail

Initially the trail is paved along the Colorado River, and then you get to the trail part pretty quickly and easily.   It is 1.2 miles, pretty much straight up with lots of rocks and 5-6 bridge crossings over Dead Horse Gulch.  At the end it is so steep that there is a railing to hold onto as you climb up the final rocks to the lake.  Which is stunning. I mean seriously.

It starts out easy-ish

It starts out easy-ish

Then it starts to get rockier

Then it starts to get rockier

There are 5-6 bridges  to cross and they are numbered.

There are 5-6 bridges to cross and they are numbered.

Every Quarter of a mile there is a post tracking how far you have gone.

Every Quarter of a mile there is a post tracking how far you have gone.

This rock path was so cool we had to get pictures.

This rock path was so cool we had to get pictures.

Perspective of the rock path

Perspective of the rock path

When we got to the final stretch, the railing popped up and the views of the canyon were amazing even in the rain.  Mary is “uncomfortable” with heights so when I took this picture she kept saying “careful!”  It was cute and there was a very sturdy railing behind us, so unnecessary.

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Just Over the top of this climb

Apparently this is some type of geological anomaly where the travertine deposit  under the lake effects the water as seeps through the limestone all around.  It creates the most lovely shade of aquamarine regardless of weather…. case in point, it was super cloudy when we were there and the lake almost glowed blue-green through all the gray.  It is also incredibly clear and you can see the trout swimming all over the place.  In order for this treasure to stay this way, fishing and swimming is strictly prohibited because our body oils would change the composition of the lake and its beauty would evaporate.  There is a very nice platform almost all the way around for viewing and signs explaining the rare occurrence that creates this beautiful lake.  Plus signs all over saying don’t go in the lake or on the dead tree that slices through the middle,  unfortunately people ignore it all the time and if you google it online you eventually see someone walking out on to the log and risking the future of this lake.  Every time I see those pictures it hurts my heart, more so now that I have seen it myself.

The Lake Log sign Log

This place is super crowded all the time, except the day we were there.  It was actually perfect, we had the way up mostly to ourselves through some drizzle and when we got to the top the rain stopped long enough for us to get some great pictures and then it started up again as we headed down.  It also started to get more crowded but nothing like what I have read, it was actually pretty magical.

It was also interesting to watch the differently prepared groups of people hiking up….people in shorts and tank tops – it was maybe 45 degrees out and raining.  The 2 motorcyclist carrying their helmets up totally not dressed for hiking, pretty sure they turned around after we told them they weren’t quite halfway up…. I must learn to lie better in those situations.  People climbing up in keds, it is the short distance and that tricks so many.  It is still a tough hike so make sure you prepare like you would for any alpine hike.  After the directions are a few more pictures.  I cannot wait to bring more people to Hanging Lake, we loved it!

Directions:  Hanging lake is in Glenwood Canyon , just before you reach Glenwood Springs.  You can only get to it from the East bound side of I70 and if the parking lot is full, then you need to drive around and keep checking for a spot or come back another day.  Seriously no parking spot no hike. This also means if you are coming from the East, you have to drive 5 miles past and then double back to get to the trailhead.  Travel 22 miles west of Eagle on I-70 to the Grizzly Creek exit in Glenwood Canyon.After exiting, get back on the highway going eastbound to the Hanging Lake exit.The trail begins 1/4 mile east of the rest area on the left just before the bridge.

A shelter along the way and lots of benches help with the steep climb

A shelter along the way and lots of benches help with the steep climb

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Fish

Fish

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