Tag Archives: State park

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.

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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

 

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Staunton State Park, Conifer CO Hiked 11/23/13

7 Dec

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Staunton Ranch > Scout Line> Marmot Passage>Bugling Elk> Stauton Ranch

Lowest Elevation:  8120 Ft

Highest Elevation: 9240 Ft ( I think total we got around 1800+ ft of elevation gain with the ups and downs)

Trail Length:  Roughly 10 miles

Trail Uses: Most of the trails were hiking, biking & Horses Scout Line is hiking only

Degree of Difficulty:  Most trails themselves are easy but doing them all together is moderate or difficult mostly

Fees: $7 a day OR $70 for the state park annual pass…. on this day we bought the pass since ours expired

Bathrooms:  Yes at each parking area there are vault toilets or Port-o-potties

Pets: Yes Dogs On leash only

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Work has been crazy and getting more crazy everyday, at the time I picked this trail I had not had even a minute the entire week to research hikes.  It was at 10PM that Friday night that I saw Mark and Sandy over a buencamino2014.wordpress.com talking about their hike at Staunton State park that morning.  They have been talking about the merits of this state park since it opened this summer while Mark worked there to get it ready for opening.  One thing I love about Colorado is that when a new state park opens there is as much excitement about it or more, as there was when Ikea opened.  I heard about the lines to get in the park all summer long and just didn’t want to deal with the crowds .  On  a pretty cold Saturday with potentially no sun, it was the perfect time to check it out!  Mark & Sandy  were nice enough to suggest a couple of routes that would get us around 10 miles and some of the best views in Park.  Honestly I would never had picked this route if not for them so thank you Mark & Sandy!

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This particular view was like a beacon of beauty, all lit up from the sun above the clouds.

We started the hike via Staunton Ranch trail,  which also happens to start at the Mason Creek Trailhead.  It is a little confusing as you walk up the trail but look up and left, you will see the trailhead:

Starting out

Starting out

This trail is not tough at all, the path is very well-groomed with a gradual climb as it winds up and around the park.  I really like how they have marked the trails in the park, they use the initials of the trail name on a simple iron post.  I would say this portion is easy to moderate, moderate mostly because round trip it is a 6.6 mile hike.

Staunton Ranch Trail marker

Staunton Ranch Trail marker

It felt like about 2 miles or just under, when we reached our trail break at the Scout Line Trailhead, also very well-marked where the 3 trails intersect and the signs have the mileage to the next trail break – I loved it!

SL Trail sign

This trail is all single track and starts a pretty aggressive climb up to some beautiful bluffs.  I have to say this was my favorite section of the hike, the views were amazing and the way they built up the trail using natural resources was actually really beautiful.

A creek crossing right at the trail break starting up Scout Line

A creek crossing right at the trail break starting up Scout Line

Climbing up SL

Climbing up SL

use of rocks as the trail… Beautiful

use of rocks as the trail… Beautiful

More Climbing after some stunning views

More Climbing after some stunning views

One of the views on SL

One of the views on SL

Me on Scout Line

Me on Scout Line

I have to tell you Scout Line was just gorgeous and reignited that love of discovering a new trail in me.  We spent more time then necessary on the trail just taking it all in the were views all over as we hiked along it.  As we got closer to the next trail break at Marmot Passage we had this great climb along the mountain.

Another great use of rocks to make the trail work

Another great use of rocks to make the trail work

Marmot Passage Trail Head

Marmot Passage Trail Head

Marmot Passage is an easy trail that does a little climbing and then mostly heads back down.  It actually started getting pretty cold while we were on this trail and so we started moving much faster.  As we descended to the Elk Falls Pond, the cloud cover really settled in but the pond still looked pretty from above, it could not dampen our excited and joy.

Elk falls pond Elk Falls pond signage

Once down by the pond, finding Bugling Elk trail to head back was very easy and the trail itself is some type of access road very wide and easy to hike:

BE Trailhead

We climbed up a little and then headed back down to Staunton Ranch Trail.

back to Staunton ranch Trail conditions from BE to SR

Knowing that we were just 3.3 miles from the end had us in great spirits, discovering this gem for ourselves…. well we were pretty chatty about it all.  So chatty in fact we almost missed the herd of deer on our left.  Then while taking too many pictures of them cavorting, we found out almost a minute too late that the main buck was on our right rounding up the rest of his herd and he was CLOSE.   Honestly I have never been that close to a buck, I would say he was just 5-6 feet away from us and totally unconcerned with what we were doing as he got his last doe back in line.

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I have to tell you that this hike was awesome!  I am so glad I happened upon Mark and Sandy’s most recent hike post to pick the park and even more thrilled they could give me advice on such short notice!  There is so much beauty in this state park and I totally get why there were lines of people waiting to discover it all.  Yes the route we took was long but it was crazy beautiful and so worth every step.  For approximately 70% of the hike, we had it totally to ourselves which added to its awesomeness .  We saw the most traffic on Staunton Ranch trail as we were returning to our car and what we did encounter still wasn’t all that much.   Honestly I cannot wait to get back to this State park and see more, I hope you can find your way out here to see it all for yourself!  After the directions will some of my favorite pictures from the day.

Directions:   Take US Highway 285 south to Shaffers Crossing, about 6 miles west of Conifer. Turn north on Elk Creek Road and follow the signs 1.5 miles to the park entrance

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