Tag Archives: Cumulative elevation gain

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

28 Apr

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

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

Stairs at the beginning

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

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

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

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Denver in the distance about half way down Belcher hill

Denver in the distance about half way down Belcher hill

Mt. Falcon Repeater + more, Jefferson county Open Space Hikes 3/30/13

31 Mar
Castle Trail - Mt. Falcon

Castle Trail – Mt. Falcon

Today’s hike needed to be both inspiring and challenging but I was also worried about the condition of the trails I originally had planned on doing with all the snow we got the last weekend.  I had hoped  that the warm up being forecasted would happen earlier in the week and be more intense than it was, but it was enough that anywhere that received a ton of snow would have melted to the point of  being annoying once we started hiking over it which pretty much covered those hikes I had planned.  There was one trail I thought would be a good bet for this weekend after all our weather, but it was a repeater so I decided to add-on more mileage and elevation gain.

We originally went to Mt. Falcon Park Jefferson County Open Space (details of the trail in the link) at the end if July last year.  The first time we hiked this park, we were there on a really hot day thinking “I bet this hike is really great in spring or fall”.  Plus there are a great set of trails at the top that we could use to challenge us to go further and climb more.   That is how we ended up back at Mt. Falcon Park today.   Here is what we took on for our hike:

Turkey trot> Castle trail> Parmalee Trail>  Meadow Trail > Castle > Turkey Trot  : Officially 10.5 miles, my fitbit said 11.8 miles total it took us 4 &1/2 hours.  A total elevation gain of  2100 feet.

Castle trail

Castle trail

It was a little cold and windy at first, but before we knew it we were peeling off layers of clothes trying not to sweat through everything.  It didn’t take long for us to remember why we wanted to come back to this trail again, the views were beautiful again and the changing sky made them new when we passed them again later.  We were lucky enough to have these 3 ladies greet us as we got closer to the west parking lot, too bad for the runner that came by before I could snap the perfect picture but at least I got this one.

Deer

Deer

We have been here before, but that first time we were competing with a race so we kept dodging runners.  This time it was still pretty active but it was a nice mix of runners & hikers but nothing like the last time, it was such a nice hard workout with all the beauty!   Instead of going from the East parking lot to the west parking then back, we wanted to get more mileage so at the top we decided to take on the Parmalee Trail because it had a nice elevation decrease then regain and it was a loop that brought us back to the Castle trail.  It was a perfect add-on!

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The Meadow Trail was actually the toughest part and not because it was hard but because it had a couple of feet of snow we had to walk on.  Since we had already taken the legs off  our pants it made for interesting half mile.

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The Parmalee trail was really beautiful, mostly covered by trees and then it broke out of the trees with great views  of the surrounding mountains.

Trail conditions

Trail conditions

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When we got back to the Castle Trail, a lot more clouds had started to roll in but man did it make the mountains look even better.

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As we headed back down the views of the ruins there also looked spectacular!!!  I don’t know what it was but everything just looked so good today.

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Oh and there was a new sign that I hadn’t seen before….I hope they start posting these everywhere because really going up is hard and those going down should give way even if they are jogging….

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Here are a couple of the amazing views we had:

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This hike was wonderful, even more so then the first time we did it!  If you find  your way over to this park try any of these trails or all of them, they were all great on their own each with new and amazing views!

When we got home, one of our cats was very vocal about us coming home smelling terrible but still demanded he get picked up….

Serenity

Gem Lake -Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes CO 3/6/13 ( Spring Break Hike #2)

16 Mar
Gem Lake

Gem Lake

Gem Lake Trail

Starting Elevation:  7882 Ft

Highest Elevation:  8830 Ft ( Total elevation gain 948 ft)

Trail Length:  According to the map it is 1.8 miles one way to the lake for a total of 3.6.  We did a lot of walking around taking pictures so in the end we had a little over 4 miles on my fitbit.   It took about 2 and half hours for our whole trip.

Trail uses:  Hiker only

Degree of Difficulty:  This one is hard for me to categorize, I would say overall Moderate but the elevation gain is a lot in a short distance and so some parts could be considered strenuous….

Bathrooms:  Yes, at the parking lot/trailhead and then there is a privy not too far below the lake itself.

Pets:  No dogs allowed.

Fees: None

Here we are at the parking lot ready to start the hike to Gem Lake

Here we are at the parking lot ready to start the hike to Gem Lake

When I was looking at different hikes for when Lauren and Anne were here, I wanted something with great views.  Normally I would have taken them to a hike I had done before but at this particular time of year all those great view hikes were probably under quite a bit of snow.  I liked what I read about Gem Lake for different reasons, it was not too long with spectacular views of Long’s peak, Mt. Meeker, the Twin Sisters and the whole town of Estes Park down below along with a nice elevation gain.  The other bonus was that  we had tickets for the ghost hunt tour at the Stanley Hotel later that night so it gave us lots to do in Estes Park.  I have also been wanting to do this hike for a long time but since we have been focused in getting more stamina a hike under 4 miles kept getting knocked off for longer, harder hikes.  My final reason, evil genius plan to make my nieces fall in love with Colorado….

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Lets talk trail, this is a short trail that climbs quickly but has some very well placed straights to catch your breath on with stunning views to admire.  From the parking lot you want to go to the vault toilet and take the path to the right of it, this is the Gem Lake trail it is very easy to follow and is straight in and straight out.   At points there were some stairs to help with the climbing but the path itself is pretty easy.  It actually runs through and along Lumpy Ridge and the rock formations were really neat.

Gem Lake trailheadTrail 1

The best part is that the trail is done in such away that you are always moving towards the next great view and the trail is so easy to follow.  We were lucky to have a pretty nice day, we started out a little chilly but quickly stripped off layers as we went up.

Trail 2A L K at view

One of the things I super love about Colorado is about how beautifully blue the skies get and the day we did this hike they were extra pretty.   After the above picture we climbed at a little steeper pace for just a little longer before it leveled out to where we started entering an aspen grove and some beautiful pine.  But before that grove we came around to the Paul Bunyans Boot, seriously check this out:

The trail as it leveled out and before the boot

The trail as it leveled out and before the boot

Paul Bunyans Boot

Paul Bunyans Boot and Lauren

After this is a great Aspen Grove that my nieces thought looked like it should be in a museum as a perfect depiction of an alpine aspen grove and I had to agree.

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From here it is not far to the lake and the last climb.  The steps could get challenging as there was some with long distances from one step to the next so I think this is where other hikers have decided to classify this as a harder hike but if you take your time getting through it is no problem.  Also there is a privy up here.  Privy’s are so interesting and I encountered one when we hiked Chasm Lake I just want to giggle every time I have to use one because there is barely enough coverage to get your business done.  At least this one was kinda down and behind a huge boulder so you could sort of get off the trail and out of view.  The last stretch of trail was a little in the shade and so snowy but not hard to get up or down at all.

Trail conditions to the lake

From here it is an easy scramble to the lake, which was frozen when we got there but still beautiful and the views around were amazing.

Gem Lake

Gem Lake

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We took a bunch of pictures, pretended to be yeti’s waiting to be spotted laughed a ridiculous amount and then headed back down.  I have to admit hiking with my nieces was so much fun, today’s hike ( post coming) was a little subdued  because we didn’t have their company!  We are already counting down the days until their next visit so we can show them more of beautiful Colorado.  After the directions on how to get to the trail I will put some of our favorite pictures.

Directions: 

This trailhead was relocated to the northwest of the old trailhead, and the parking lot expanded.  The turn-off to the new trailhead is approximately 1/4 mile west of the old Gem Lake Trailhead, on Lumpy Ridge Rd.

From Estes Park, take the US Hwy 34 bypass (the road that goes by the Stanley Hotel). Just west of the Stanley, turn right (north) onto MacGregor Avenue (CR 43). The road makes a hard right at the entrance to MacGregor Ranch, after which it is known as the Devils Gulch Rd. Veer right, and proceed about 3/4 miles to Lumpy Ridge Rd. Turn left onto Lumpy Ridge Rd. The Lumpy Ridge Trailhead and parking area at the end of the road.

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Fun with perspective and Lauren

Fun with perspective and Lauren

Belcher Hill Trail – White Ranch Park, Golden CO 2/23/13

23 Feb
Belcher Hill Trail - White ranch park

Belcher Hill Trail – White ranch park

Belcher Hill Trail

Lowest Elevation:  Approximately 6100 feet

Highest Elevation: 7800 + ( total Elevation gain of almost 2000 feet with a few declines and then having to climb back up)

Trail Length:  According to the Park Map it is 8.8 miles roundtrip but my fitbit said we got 10.5 miles and every account of hiking the trail said it was 9 miles round trip.

Trail Uses: Hiker, Biker, Horses

Degree of Difficulty:  Moderate to difficult ( today we got an extra hard workout because of the snow) mostly due to length and incline

Bathrooms:  Yes, at the trailhead and then I assume there is one at the sawmill campsite and then at the west parking lot if you want to walk over there

Dogs:  Yes,  I think they are supposed to be on leash but none were so maybe not….

A good View

A good View

When I was thinking about today’s hike, I wanted to be realistic about how much snow we might encounter.  We actually got a little snow this week, not as much as we need but it is at least something and since we are so desperate for precipitation I will not complain at all about it.  Almost exactly a year ago I found this particular trail when my good friend Karin was telling me about how much she loved White Ranch Park and I looked up the open space to see what I could try there.  I was terrified by what I read about the Belcher Hill trail, the descriptions were all about how tough the incline was and how busy it was.  Lately I have been wondering how hard it really is and how much hype I have given it based on my physicality a year ago.  Since we got the snow I thought today was a good day to face my fears.

We LOVED it!  Yes, it is challenging in that it is pretty much a straight climb up over the length of 3-ish miles with a 1700 foot elevation gain.  But oh the views, they are just amazing!  I have been to this park a dozen times on the easier Rawhide trail and while there are some really spectacular views of Denver and the front range on that trail, it is nothing like what we saw today.  We could see Mt. Evans at one point and the sun perfectly highlighted all the beauty for us while we had some cloud cover overhead.

Parking lot

Parking lot

Open Space Signage

Open Space Signage

Ok let’s talk trail, we started from the East Parking lot for White Ranch Park  and it is surrounded by private land in fact we went through a few gates and crossed over someone’s driveway.  They had horses and the horses were given free reign, it was pretty cool.

Horses

Horses

The trail actually drops down and goes past some pretty amazing estates and so is surrounded by private property signs and barbed wire just to make sure you don’t go off trail.  It is pretty cool that these people let us go through or around their properties and enjoy the beauty they paid for… and paid a lot!

Trail conditions at the beginnig

It was pretty snowy when we started, but fortunately there had been enough people before us that we had a solid path to follow and with no ice.  We really came at the right time as only a few people had stamped down the snow.  We continued down until we crossed over a short bridge and then the climbing began and never seemed to stop.  At first the snow was a non-issue:

Steep incline

Steep incline

We climbed for almost 2 miles before we started to hit the other trail junctions.  I have read that a lot of people opt to take the Sawmill or Mustang loops instead of doing the straight in, straight out of Belcher Hill, on today’s adventure we kinda understood why as the snow was way deeper on Belcher Hill.  At the same time there is an attraction in getting a full loop that we miss in doing straight in straight out.  We wanted the toughest workout we could get so it was all Belcher Hill all the way and the trail was so easy to follow.  Here are the trails we passed on our journey:

Mustange 1Roundup trailbreakSawmill Trail Break

At the Sawhill Trailhead, the Belcher Hill Trail was almost lost in the snow and went down to a single track.  It was hard to see the trail in the picture but Aaron was nice enough to show us the way.  We weren’t sure how deep it got because no one had gone this way since at least the last snow.  We probably went in for a longer then we should have before we put on our gators to deal with all the snow but we were the one making all the tracks for those who followed, it was pretty awesome.

Trail COnditions at the top

It doesn’t look too bad here, but we were mostly walking through snow that was half way to our knees a lot of the time.  It was a great workout and even better, I still felt strong through the toughest parts.  It was a really great hiking day for me. From here we climbed a lot more, higher than we have ever been in White Ranch Park and the views were breathtaking.  When we got the second crossing with the Mustang trail we started to descend to the West parking lot and the final stretch of the trail.

Mustange 2 trail breaklast section of trail Trail marker from west entrance

Initially our intention was to do this final stretch( just .4 miles according to the map) but all the snow traversing above had made us  a little nervous about our stamina and how we would fare on our way back, so we turned around at the West parking lot and headed back to the east parking lot.  On the return trip we encountered the most traffic of the day, I guess everyone was thinking later is better, lucky for us!

This is a great trail and while not at all popular when there is snow on the ground, I personally think it was the best possible time to be out on it.  From what I read getting ready to hike this trail, it sounds pretty busy in the summer/fall and mostly with bikers.  But today was almost perfect and very low traffic.  I know we will do this one again and again there was just something about getting to the highest point and the views we had of the surrounding mountains, I could live up there!  It also occurred to me while we were climbing away, we have managed to hike at least 44 out of the past 52 weeks.  It felt so good!  The weekend doesn’t feel right anymore unless I am out on a trail getting my Colorado mountain views fill.

This trail may be for the more hardy but all in all, it is so worth doing!  After the directions I will post our favorite pictures.

Directions:

East Access: 5611 Glencoe Valley Road, Golden
Take State Highway 93 north from Golden 1.7 miles to West 56th Avenue. Turn left (west) on Pine Ridge Road and travel about 1 mile east to the parking lot.

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

10 Feb
North Table Loop

North Table Loop

North Table Loop ( Jefferson County Open Space)

Lowest Elevation: 5850-ish Feet

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

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

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

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

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

Pets:  Yes – But Leash only.

Park Map

Park Map

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

Cool map upgrade

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

wicked Incline

wicked Incline

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

Trail marker 1

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

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

Denver

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

Trail 2

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

trailbreak 2

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

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

View northwest on the back end

Then Southwest as the storm clouds started rolling in.

View Southwest on the backend

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

Power lines

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

Last Trailbreak

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

Directions:

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

Us

Us