Tag Archives: Roxborough State Park

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.



Repeater hike(s) Roxborough State Park – Carpenters Peak & Fountain Valley Trail 1/25/13

26 Jan
View on the Carpenters Peak trail about half way up.

View on the Carpenters Peak trail about half way up.

Whenever I go out-of-town, especially to sea level, coming back to Denver is an adjustment, an almost 2 week adjustment.  Since I went to LA for my annual girls trip last Thursday and returned just this past Tuesday, I was not optimistic about my ability to hike anything new or tough.  We decided to go back to Roxborough State Park to see what we could manage.  Plus this would be our 11th visit to a Colorado State park which means we made money on our pass today, yay us!  The really nice thing about the park is the trail set up, you could easily hike all 3 big trails without crossing over the same terrain or going out of you way to get to the next segment.  When I got up this morning I was worried that the Carpenters Peak Trail ( for trail details click the link ) may be too much for me and a couple of times it was.  I definitely struggled up this mountain and had some altitude tough moments, but the physical activity wasn’t at all a problem.  I was surprised when we came down this trail, I could do more.   Between our 2 options I decided the easier Fountain Valley trail ( for trail details click the link) was the wiser choice.  At the end of the hike we had cleared 8.7 miles based on the map and 9.5 miles based on my Fitbit, not too shabby.  Plus we got a total of 189 flights of stairs climbed, I love my Fitbit I am obsessed with finding out how many flights of stairs we have climbed.

The quirky thing about hiking today was 2 fold, one we are desperate for some moisture here.  It is so dry that our fire season is actually starting now instead of during the summer months.  I remember our first month here people were thrilled that it was raining and at the time I thought it was cute, now I totally get it. I find myself trying out rain/snow dances in hopes the gods will favor us!  The insanely dry weather along with warm temperatures also means the brown cloud of the front range ramped up early and got thick. You can actually see it in the picture of Denver at the beginning of my post. By the time we got home it was 10 times worse.  The air quality warnings were red or high today, saying to avoid driving and stay indoors….which we ignored of course.

The other quirky thing is the temperature.  It was nice and sunny this morning and while just under 40 when we started, we were quickly sweating and stripping down, but at the top of Carpenters peak it was windy and chilly we turned around almost immediately.  I almost went to the shorts feature of my hiking pants during my second stage of taking stuff off but was so glad I didn’t do it.  The trail itself had a ton of ice on it and so we knew it would be a muddy trip down.  This trail is not one you want to do when it is muddy, its like hiking with 3 extra pounds of mud on your shoes or wearing 4 inch heels, going downhill on a moving platform.

Trail conditions

Trail conditions

The mud was pretty bad and another reason why I chose the Fountain Valley trail as my add-on option, because they cover it with pebbles pretty regularly and the mud and ice are not a problem.

Trail Conditions on Fountain Valley

Trail Conditions on Fountain Valley

The best part about today was practically flying out of bed to get on the trail.  It has been a weird month+, traveling home for Xmas, getting sick for so long and then barely a week of exercising before heading off to my girls trip.  I have felt like a slug and staying on track with my weight became really hard, harder than I thought it would.  I need to learn how to control my eating and drinking behaviors on trips.  But getting out there and hiking a hike that has gorgeous views and a nice climb is exactly the medicine I needed.  Nothing charges my batteries like a good sweaty hike!

Next week should be a brand new hike and repeaters shouldn’t so frequently anymore.

Kathy and Aaron at the summit of Carpenters Peak

Kathy and Aaron at the summit of Carpenters Peak

Waterton Canyon, Littleton 1/12/13

12 Jan
A view of the mountains along the canyon

A view of the mountains along the canyon

Waterton Canyon/ The Colorado Trail Segment 1:

Starting elevation:  5550 Ft

Highest Elevation: 5721 Ft ( total gain of 171 ft but strangely I got 90 flight of stairs on my fitbit….)

Trail Length: We did a total trip of 8.5 miles, 4.25 in and back.  This is a trail with endless possibilities given it is part of the Colorado Trail all the way to Durango ( approx. 500 total miles).  One day I would like to connect with the Carpenters Peak Trail in Roxborough State park or better yet do a multiple day hike on the Colorado trail…..

Trail Uses: Hiker, Biker and horses.

Degree of Difficulty:  EASY

Bathrooms: Yes and plentiful.  However this is a heavily populated trail in spring, summer and fall so it might not hurt to have a roll of toilet paper along for the journey just in case one of the many restrooms along the trail is out when you have need to use it.

Pets: Dogs are NOT allowed because there are actually herds of long horned sheep in this canyon.

Waterton canyon Map and rules

Waterton canyon Map and rulesOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

After my crud finally let up last Sunday-ish, I was able to start working out again.  It was a slow week and I only got in about half of my usual workouts or working out time.  I knew my lungs and body weren’t up to too much so I decided an old standby was in order.  Waterton Canyon is very easy, when we started getting into shape last March this would often be our second hike in a weekend and then it would be our easy hike.  There is almost no elevation gain but you can make it LLLOOOONNNGGG.  Plus it is close to Denver and one of Aaron’s favorite features is that we can walk side by side ( he still likes to hold my hand occasionally, I am such a lucky girl!).  The trail itself is the width of an almost 2 lane dirt road and every time I have walked, at least 2 cars have driven up it.  Mostly the Denver Water treatment people as it runs along the Platte River and eventually to one of the reservoirs that is part of the Denver water system.   While it is insanely crowded almost every time I have used it on a weekend day, today was a bitterly cold day which is actually unusual in the Denver area, so we were almost completely alone the whole hike.  My first January/February here it actually averaged around 60 -70 degrees a day, sure it would go down to 20-ish at night but who cares, it was 70 in January during the day!  Today though it started out at a bitter 1 degree and a wind chill of -13….when we started it had warmed up to 11 with a wind chill of -1 and when we finished 3 hours later it had only gone up just 2 degrees.  Needless to say, we bundled up the most we have to date and did not peel off one layer for the duration of the hike.

The first mile is partially paved and a little industrial, which makes it Aaron’s least favorite of all the hikes we have done so far.

Water treatment pipes for Denver Water

Water treatment pipes for Denver Water

After these pipes the only industrial aspects are the various dams and river crossings you could work your way through.  The restrooms seem to hit between 1-2 miles apart which gives you a lot of options, I did feel bad for the scantily clad runner who had to wait for me today while I pulled all my layers back up during one of my pit stops….


These picnic/rest areas also having learning signs to help newbies learn about the wildlife in the area, which was incredibly helpful to us in the beginning.

Black Bear Information

I love it because surprisingly, there is the opportunity to see a ton of wildlife along this trail.  I have walked through a huge herd of mule deer, long horned sheep and a family of beautiful red foxes before.  My girlfriend said one day she even saw a black bear on one of the mountainsides.  Don’t even get me started on all the varieties of birds that hang out around here.  In this way it is a very special trail and one every Coloradoan should check out.  Today we saw a few mule deer and one beautiful long horned sheep, a ram.  Unfortunately, we only brought our tough Olympus cameras because of the extreme cold, so our limited zoom made it impossible to capture them from today but here is a picture of a herd of long horned sheep I caught in April a few years ago.

Long Horned sheep

Today we walked up a little past the main dam, I only call it the main dam as when someone asks you if you made it to the dam, this is the one they are talking about even though you pass a smaller one earlier…. it is about 3.1 miles up

The dam

We actually walked almost to where you cross over the river, but the wind picked up and we had been in shadows for a while by this point it was getting COLD so at 4.25 miles we turned around.

Ice forming on the Platte river

The trail after we turned around....

The trail after we turned around….

It took us longer then we expected, about 3 hours, when we have cleared 12 miles in 3.5 hours in the past on this trail.  The cold was an unexpected factor to Aaron’s blood sugar, the poor guy was eating sugar every 15 minutes for more than half the hike and still we had to stop a lot to wait for it to rise. We have learned a lot over the past 10 months on how to manage it at different altitudes but the cold was a new wrinkle.  He is such a trooper and kept at it until he felt better.  Being a type 1 diabetic has added challenges we never thought we would have to work through, but I am so thankful it has brought us closer together and taught us so much about ourselves and each other.  I don’t mention it much because it is still relatively new and painful for us but one of the side effects for us of moving to Denver was that it triggered that type 1 diabetes gene in Aaron so at 32 we had to learn a new way of life.  His sister is also a type 1 diabetic so it wasn’t completely foreign, but it has been incredibly hard.   He is amazing in his determination to make it work and continue to do the things he loves, but he goes through a lot every single hike and so do I…… If you know a type 1 diabetic, hug them ….hard, what they have to go through on any given day  for the weirdest reasons is awful but they keep on keeping on.  This week the barometric pressure was changing quickly and for no reason he almost passed out in a meeting with his coworkers because it shifted, imagine doing everything he could to stay at a good blood sugar only to have the weather make it harder for you.  It is freaky to be on the other side of that, fortunately the one blessing is once his blood sugar goes extremely high or low he often has no memory of what happens, if only I could get that same blessing…..

Kathy n Aaron at the DamA super cold Kathy and Aaron

Any-who, I digress.  This hike is a great gateway hike to help you figure out if hiking Colorado is for you and a great way to build stamina.  Like I said before, most of the time there are a zillion people out here and the huge parking lot on those days is hardly enough, so come early.

Directions:   From Denver, take I70 West to C470. Take C470 East to the Wadsworth Boulevard exit. Go south (right turn) off this exit and travel about 4.2 miles. Turn left onto Waterton Road and the parking lot will be about 0.2 miles on your left. It is a big open parking lot and is hard to miss.

Not the weekend hike we planned, repeater of Carpenters Peak-Roxborough State Park 11/4/12

4 Nov



There is a hike that is proving to be more elusive than I thought possible, I had hoped today was the day to get it done, but alas it was once again not meant to be.  This will be the 3rd time I have had to cancel it!

I knew last night when Aaron got up at 4AM not feeling well that the hike I had originally  planned was likely out.  When the alarm went off at 7, I went down to see how he was doing and while the hike I had originally planned was out for sure, he was still up for trying to a hike today.  I was shocked and pleased because I really need to keep this butt moving and motivated.  He really wasn’t feeling well so we wanted to hit something not too hard and close to home so we could come home quickly if we needed too.   So it was off to Roxborough State Park to do Carpenters Peak, which is still a nice workout but not something we would need to invest the whole day in order to complete.  The up side of our hike today was that we finished it in just 2.5 hours and in the past it would typically take us 3.5 hrs.  Unfortunately it was a really tough hike for Aaron and him not feeling well.  You can check out the hike details from my original Carpenters Peak post here.

Typically I like to get our hike in on Saturday but we did an awesome Sunset Photography class last night.  It was through REI Outdoor programs and I had no expectations, but it was a wonderful class.  They had us meet at a park in Boulder at 4PM and then we worked on technique until the sun started to set. I will admit that I barely know anything about my camera so I was a super novice in the class, the instructors were great in helping me understand the most basic functions of my camera ( like the shutter).  By the time sunset started I felt like I had learned so much and that I really was able to pull the color into the clouds:

But the best part by far was after the sun actually set and we  learned how to do light painting


I see hours of fun ahead practicing how to do this and I cannot wait to do it with my nieces and nephews!

My fingers and toes are crossed that next weekend will not lead to a 4th failed attempt at doing this now ridiculously desirable trail.