A day after hiking to the summit of Mount Sniktau and probably sleeping about twelve hours, I decided to do a much longer hike the following day since I felt so well rested. Although I woke up too late to hike a larger peak, I figured I’d stay closer to Denver and check out Centennial Cone Park. I must admit that this might be one of my favorite parks in the Jefferson County Open Space system.
Nonetheless, here’s some more info about my hike:
Date Hiked: July 2nd, 2019
Miles Hiked: 12.5 Miles
Trails Hiked: Elk Range and Travois Trails
Centennial Cone Park has several trailheads to pick from as you can see on the park map. I chose to park at the Ralph Schell trailhead where I found only two other cars that day.
From the trailhead, I started down the Elk Range trail. It felt really pleasant to hike through the meadow and only encounter several mountain bikers as well as the occasional family every now or then. After a short time, the trail comes to the top of a nice ridge which offers some views of the surrounding mountains and valley below.
Pretty soon, I found myself leaving the meadow and entering into a more wooded part of the hike. Right before reaching the west trailhead, I took the Travois trail where the Elk Range trail meets it and continued on with the hike despite the clouds starting to build to the west.
After a couple more miles, some pretty remarkable views of Clear Creek Canyon opened up right in front of me. At this point, it was starting to get pretty hot and the fact that their was no shade around didn’t help. But that’s how it is sometimes.
I should also mention that their is a pretty significant change in elevation throughout the duration of the hike. I definitely felt it on the way back. With the thunder growing steadily louder, it seemed like the perfect time to pick up the pace before all hell broke loose.
Overall, I thought this was a pretty enjoyable hike. Wouldn’t mind doing it again at some point!
With each passing day, I’ve found myself becoming more addicted to both hiking and reaching the summit of mountain peaks. Reaching the summit of Mount Sniktau definitely made me realize this.
Specifically, I woke up late Sunday morning and worked my twelve hour shift until 3am. Instead of going to bed, I stayed up and drove to Loveland Pass on Monday morning and have no regrets. Here’s so more information about my hike:
Date Hiked: July 1st, 2019
Miles Hiked: 3.5 Miles
Total Elevation Change: 1,250 Feet
Summit Elevation: 13,240 Feet
Loveland Pass is easily accessible from Interstate 70. Plenty of parking can be found at both the top and just below the summit of the pass. It also happens to be located on the Continental Divide as well and the views are just absolutely remarkable.
Even from the parking area, the views were just off the chart. Being so high up already at nearly 12,000 feet, the trail itself was a steep path straight up the side of the mountain with the views becoming more incredible with each step.
It does level out for a brief period of time before it continues to climb some more. I must admit that I was pretty surprised to still see that much snow up there too. Doing this hike was the perfect way to start the month though!
And about 1.75 miles later, I found myself at the summit! Although it’s definitely a shorter hike, I still got a good workout from it and was nothing less than impressed.
Even though it was windy and still a little cold, I didn’t let that deter me from sitting at the summit for half an hour. While I was sitting up there, a nice little pika was kind enough to make an appearance for me too!
I really didn’t want to leave because it just felt so peaceful. But I was pretty tired too and figured it was time to go home and get some sleep. So that’s exactly what I did. But the return trip proved to be more eventful than I figured it would be.
The Return Trip
As I was heading back, a group of Mountain Goats came out of nowhere and ended up crossing the trail in front of me. Although they were gone in a flash, I was able to get a couple pictures of them enjoying the day and what not.
All in all, I’m glad I stayed up a full 24 hours to do this hike. It was so worth it. I’d have to say that this is an excellent beginner 13er with incredible views. I definitely recommend it and would do it again anytime.
June really turned out to be a great month. I got a lot of hiking in and was able to explore some pretty neat mountains and several wilderness areas as well as some more open space trails and parks. Overall, here’s a quick glance at what I was able to accomplish:
June 4th– Walker Ranch Park- 7.6 Miles
June 7th– Deer Creek Canyon Park- 2.6 Miles
June 9th– Pine Valley Ranch Park and Buffalo Creek Trail System- 13.5 Miles
June 11th– Centennial Cone Park- 6 Miles
June 15th– Elk Meadow Park- 4 Miles
June 18th– Bison Peak in Lost Creek Wilderness- 13 Miles
June 25th– Stanley Mountain from Berthoud Pass- 7.9 Miles
Total Miles Hiked in June 2019: 54.6 Miles
Total Miles Hiked in 2019 so far: 224.44 Miles
On three separate occasions, I got caught in some thunderstorms while out hiking in the woods. Luckily, I was not above treeline and could easily find a safe place to seek shelter in the woods. Specifically, this happened to me on the 4th, 7th and the 18th of June.
In regards to June 7th, a large thunderstorm formed in the foothills directly west of Denver while I was only 1.3 miles up the trail. However, the conditions of the trail were absolutely horrendous that day so it all worked out for the best.
Originally, I planned on writing a post about the Buffalo Creek Trail System and Pine Valley Ranch Park but unfortunately my camera died after taking only two photos that morning. I did manage to get a peaceful shot of the lake though.
My last two hikes of June involved hiking to the summit of several 12,000 foot peaks. Both Bison Peak and Stanley Mountain had some pretty remarkable scenery. While hiking to Stanley Mountain, I also added a little extra mileage as I wanted to see how steep the trail down to nearby Vasquez Pass was. Hiking in both the Lost Creek Wilderness and on the Continental Divide Trail was so much fun and relaxing in that I had both summits to myself and hardly saw anybody too.
Overall, it turned out to be a great month and I’m looking forward to what these next few months of summer have to offer!
Located within the Vasquez Peak Wilderness area, the hike to the summit of Stanley Mountain is a truly remarkable one. Standing at 12,521 feet, it proved to be a great challenging hike, especially considering the fact that their was still a decent amount of snow until I managed to get above treeline.
Here’s some more info about my hike that day:
Date Hiked: June 25th, 2019
Miles Hiked: 7.9 Miles
Total Elevation Change: 1,214 Feet
Summit Elevation: 12,521 Feet
Stanley Mountain can be accessed from Berthoud Pass just off of US Highway 40. At the pass, you will find plenty of parking and restrooms. Once there, you simply have to carefully cross the highway and follow the trail as it begins its ascent into the Vasquez Peak Wilderness Area.
Alternatively, you can also access Stanley Mountain by driving to a parking area that is near the Henderson Mine and hike up from there on a well defined trail.
From the start of the trail until I got above treeline, it was nothing but scattered patches of both snow and snow drifts. At one point, I even encountered a snow drift that was about four feet tall on the trail. So, I was pretty much forced to follow the footsteps of several other people who attempted it before I did, and even bushwhack at times too.
The views really started to open up above treeline. I was quite relieved to be above treeline that day because it was a genuine struggle. But it was so worth it. I’m super glad I didn’t turn around and found the motivation within me!
Only one particularly steep section stood out to me on this hike. It looks more difficult than it actually was. And once I got past this section of zigzagging switchbacks, it was smooth sailing to the summit.
While hiking through the switchbacks, I also happened to stumble upon several Ptarmigans. Additionally, a marmot also came out of seemingly nowhere and ran up the trail ahead of me before it disappeared.
At the top of the switchbacks, I finally reached the top of the ridge. Right at this point, the wind started to pick up and was just absolutely brutal. Also, the snow was almost completely melted off the trail, except for one small snowfield a bit further ahead. Everything else could be easily avoided.
Luckily enough, the weather also held off the entire time while I was above treeline.
Overall. the views from the summit were pretty neat. I probably sat up there for a good 15 minutes or so before I decided to explore some of the surrounding area.
So before I turned around, I started to descend down towards Vasquez Pass just out of curiosity to see just how steep it was. The path down is actually well marked with cairns. Ultimately, I decided to turn around as I figured storms would start to form at anytime due to the fact that it was already almost noon.
The Return Trip
Overall, the trip back to Berthoud Pass was eventful in that it involved doing some more bushwhacking and watching some thunderstorms form nearby. Also on my way back, I noticed that their were still some cornices at the edges of several of the ridges that looked pretty deep!
Overall, I really enjoyed this hike. I will most likely hike out this way again when I head up to Vasquez Peak later on this summer. I’d definitely recommend this hike to anybody too. It was hard but not overwhelming at all. It was a pretty rewarding 12er with great views nearly the entire way too. Definitely a day well spent!
Located in the Lost Creek Wilderness area of Colorado, the hike to the summit of 12,431 foot Bison Peak in the Tarryall Mountains was absolutely remarkable. It was really unlike anywhere else that I have been. The scenery is so unique that it almost feels out of place with everything else. With very few people around, the solitude just made me feel at peace.
Here’s some more info about my hike:
Date Hiked: June 18th, 2019
Miles Hiked: Around 13 miles
Difficulty: Easy class 1
Total Elevation Change: 3,671 Feet
From Denver, take US Highway 285 west over Kenosha Pass until you reach Jefferson, Colorado. Specifically, you will want to take a left onto Park County Road 77 which is also known as Tarryall Road. The Ute Creek Trailhead is on this road on the left once you go just over 3 miles past the Tarryall Reservoir.
Although I did not arrive at the trailhead until shortly after 9am, I figured I would be in for an adventure. And I was not disappointed! The first several miles are relatively easy as I first crossed the bridge over the creek and walked through some meadows. But before I did that, I made sure to fill out a free permit before entering the wilderness area.
Once I got several miles up the trail, the weather conditions changed quickly. In a span of about 25 minutes, it went from being sunny to mostly cloudy with a hailstorm looming close by. I wasn’t too scared though as I decided to hide under a rock for a little while until the weather improved.
At times, this hike really seemed like a struggle. But with every step, the scenery and view of the surrounding valleys and mountains continued to get better! Soon enough, I was able to see areas above treeline too.
Before long, I finally found myself above treeline. And the scenery was truly unlike anything I’ve ever seen before.
Upon reaching the treeline, I was treated with views of the snow capped peaks of the Mosquito Range directly to the west. In addition to that, it looked as if more storms were forming out there as well.
After reaching the meadow, the scenery really opens up around you. Even though it was an extremely snowy year, a wide majority of the snow had already melted, except for a three foot snow drift just below the summit that was easily avoidable.
After I made it to the summit, I sat up there for nearly half an hour. It was completely comforting just being out in the wilderness with nobody around you at all. As a matter of fact, I only saw three other people during my entire hike that day.
With another round of afternoon thunderstorms beginning to move in, I figured it was time to get on with it and head back down the mountain. So I signed my name in the journal at the summit and took a picture of the summit marker before calling it good.
In all, it took me about six or seven hours to complete this hike. Although it was strenuous, the views and the surrounding landscapes were totally worth it. I would definitely recommend hiking to the summit of Bison Peak to anybody and personally look forward to doing it again sometime.
Located to the west of Boulder, Colorado off of scenic Flagstaff road sits Walker Ranch Park. It is a part of the Boulder County Parks & Open Space System and you do not have to pay a fee to hike here.
On a Tuesday afternoon, I set out to do this hike and it turned out to be one crazy adventure! With only a couple of scattered showers nearby, the weather was even holding up longer than I thought it would. But of course, this would change rather quickly. Nonetheless, here are some other details:
Date: June 4th, 2019
Miles Hiked: 7.6 Miles
Trail Conditions: Perfect
I started out my hike around 2pm that afternoon. Because this trail is a loop, I decided to go left at the beginning and was soon treated to views of the surrounding mountains and also Eldorado Canyon. Once I got about a mile and half out, I noticed that it was starting to get cloudy. And before too long, I was hearing thunder and trying to figure out just how far away this storm was.
Luckily for me, I was heading both downhill and into a pretty heavily forested part of the trail. The last place I really wanted to be was in a meadow so I started to pick up the pace a bit. Upon finding a safe place underneath some large rocks and by a small stream, I sat there and waited it out for what seemed like an eternity. But I’m a really big fan of being alive so it’s all good!
After walking down the mountain, I reached South Boulder Creek. The water was absolutely raging with all of the recent snowmelt. It also started raining at this point too.
Once I climbed up the rocky staircase, it surprisingly stopped raining like crazy and the sun started to come out.
After hiking back up towards the top of the mountain, the weather really began to move off towards the plains and it became mostly sunny again. I reached this nice meadow and heard a train horn far off in the distance and didn’t think too much of it. Shortly thereafter, I found myself with a front row seat to watching the California Zephyr Amtrak train make its descent down through the mountains.
After watching the train go by, I came to the top of a ridge and was treated to a view of some snow capped peaks.
After another downhill section, I reached the creek yet again and stopped for a minute to just take everything in. Looking back at it, I was pretty glad that this part of my hike back to the trailhead was uneventful. I definitely got my adventure fix for the day after all that!
Overall, May proved to be a somewhat lackluster month in terms of hiking. It started with a decent amount of spring snowfall and ended with some warmer weather as well as more opportunities to get out and explore. It seems like it passed so quickly that I barely had much of a chance to enjoy it. Nonetheless, here’s a quick recap of what I was up to:
May 15th– Alderfer/ Three Sisters Park- 4.2
May 26th– Great Sand Dunes National Park and
Preserve- 2.25 Miles
May 29th– Mount Galbraith Park- 4.3 Miles
May 31st– Meyers Ranch Park- 4.1 Miles
Total Miles Hiked in May: 14.85 Miles
Total Miles Hiked in 2019: 169.84 Miles
I always enjoy hiking up in Evergreen and May 15th was no different. I got a nice picture of Elephant Butte right before sunset that evening.
It was also an awesome month in that I finally got spend time with mom after not having seen her in 3 years! Definitely looking forward to the next visit and more fun times ahead for sure!
During the last week of May, I also got out to hike in both Mount Galbraith and Meyers Ranch Park once I got done with work. Definitely one of the many perks of getting done with work at one in the afternoon!
With May 2019 in the books and summer officially just around the corner, I’m definitely excited about what’s in store for these next few months! As I write this, I’ve already hiked way more in the first half of June than I did during the entire month of May and then some.
Located right off of Highway 285, Meyers Ranch Park is quite easily accessible and is only a short drive up into the foothills just west of Denver, Colorado. It also happens to be a park within the Jefferson County Open Space system. With it being so close to where I live, I could easily hop in the car and get here in no more than 20 minutes.
And that’s exactly what I did once I got done with work on the last day of May. Here’s some more info about my hike:
Date: May 31st, 2019
Miles Hiked: 4.1 Miles
Trails Hiked: Owl Perch, Lodgepole Loop, Sunny Aspen
and Old Ski Trails
Trail Conditions: Completely dry
The trail starts in a meadow by the road and continues like that for a short time until you start to get into the woods a little bit further on. At the first junction, I went straight up the Sunny Aspen trail. From there, I went onto the Old Ski Run trail.
Even on a Friday afternoon, only several mountain bikers crossed my path which was actually kind of surprising to me. It’s always nice to enjoy some solitude even when you least expect to be able to! Nonetheless, I continued to get deeper and deeper into the woods. The Aspen trees were looking kind of mesmerizing too. Can’t even imagine the sight during the fall!
So I originally intended to hike to the summit of Legault Mountain but thought better of it with some storm clouds moving in. In the end, I think it was definitely the right decision as the sky started to become more ominous.
On the way back down, it started to lightly rain and would eventually stop shortly before I got back to my car. It was definitely a good easy going hike after I worked all morning.
Something else I should mention is that the noise from the cars on the highway can be heard pretty much the entire time. Although it is somewhat distracting, I think it’s still a great place to get a nice workout in if you happen to be close by. I might check back during the fall just for the Aspen trees alone though.
For the first time in 3 years, I had the chance to spend time with my mom. Having not seen my mom since 2016, I wanted to make sure that this visit was both awesome and chock full of memorable activities! With that in mind, I was surely going to be a long memorial day weekend to remember for years to come.
On Friday, May 24th, I went to pick her up from the Denver International Airport after I got done with work. Shortly thereafter, we went to Lucha Cantina to enjoy some margaritas and tacos while catching up. Once we got done with our meal, we then walked around the reservoir in Clement Park in Littleton, Colorado.
Walking around this reservoir after having a great meal and a margarita is pretty much a right of passage. I’ve literally done this after every meal at this restaurant too. After having a long travel day involving flying out to Colorado from Pennsylvania, it was time to rest and get ready for the long weekend festivities.
On Saturday, May 25th, we woke up somewhat early as we had tickets to ride on the Georgetown Loop Railroad. It was a perfect day for it as the mountains had actually had a late spring snowstorm just four or five days earlier. It was an awesome scenic train ride that connects Georgetown and Silver Plume, Colorado.
As a part of our scenic railroad ride, we also got tickets for the extended Lebanon Mine tour. Definitely an awesome experience!
After touring the Lebanon Mine for about an hour, we got back on the train and returned to Georgetown. From there, we then proceeded further west through the Eisenhower tunnel on Interstate 70 to reach Silverthorne. After having lunch at the Dillon Dam Brewery, it was time to get some exercise and walk on the trails that are close to the Dillon Reservoir.
After taking in the views for awhile, I decided to see just how much snow they had in the mountains. With that being said, I then drove up to Berthoud Pass outside of Winter Park, Colorado. And I was nothing short of amazed at how much snow was still on the ground.
Although it was a busy day, it was definitely a lot of fun!
On Sunday, May 26th, we all woke up early to depart for the Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve. It was a pretty easy drive and before too long we reached our destination before the big weekend crowds arrived.
After a quick trip to the visitor center, we then found a parking spot and made our way out to the sand dunes. I also made sure to bring out my lawn chair because I wanted to make sure that we could all enjoy the splendid view.
To reach the sand dunes, you must first cross Medano creek at the base of the dunes which was very cold due to the snowmelt. Once we made it across, we hiked a decent way up the first major dune before calling it a day. At this point, we all took turns sitting in the lawn chair and relaxing.
I figured we probably hike 2 miles round trip. It was pretty tough because the wind was absolutely howling and constantly changing direction. On the way back, we stopped at the Moonlight Pizza and Brewpub in Salida, Colorado for some unforgettable pizza and beer. Can’t wait to go back!
On Monday, May 27th, we woke up and stopped over in Golden, Colorado for a quick lunch at the Windy Saddle Cafe. Afterwards, we headed up to Boulder, Colorado because Danielle was volunteering at the Boulder Creek Festival as she is an active volunteer for the W.O.L.F Sanctuary.
It was relaxing to sit by Boulder Creek and watch the water quickly rush by and just take in the sights and sounds of the whole event. Later on, we also walked around the Pearl Street Mall before we headed back to Lakewood.
It was a pretty laid back day as I had to wake up super early to take my mom to the airport and then go straight to work at 3am on Tuesday morning.
On Tuesday, May 28th, my mom and I woke up ridiculously early so I could get her to the airport and subsequently make it to work on time at 3am.
With that being said, we left around 1:45am with a crazy thunderstorm going on. By the time we got about maybe 15 miles from the airport, hail was starting to accumulate on the road and before long their was easily 2 inches of hail on the road with constant nearby lightning illuminating the landscape around us.
When all was said and done, we made it safe and sound to the airport and I made it to work with plenty of time to spare.
Overall, it was definitely a memorable long weekend that I will probably never forget!!!
Another park located within the Jefferson County Open Space trail system, Mount Galbraith park is located a short distance outside of Golden, Colorado off of Golden Gate Canyon road. After what seemed like an eternity at work, I headed out there on a Wednesday afternoon and was treated to some much needed solitude and scenic views.
Here are some more details:
Date: May 29th, 2019
Miles Hiked: 4.3 Miles
Trails Hiked: Cedar Gulch and Mount Galbraith Loop
Trail Conditions: Occasionally muddy
Before too long, I started up the Cedar Gulch trail and views of the surrounding area quickly became visible. As Golden Gate Canyon road meanders its way around the nearby hillsides, it isn’t long before you are treated to more dramatic views.
In a short period of time, Golden and South Table Mountain come into view with the Coors Brewery also becoming much easier to recognize. After taking a quick break to hydrate, I was on my way again. The Denver skyline was beginning to come into view and actually looked pretty cool.
I also saw this tree that was growing all by itself on the very edge of a steep cliff. It was kind of symbolic because it had probably been through countless storms of all kinds and yet stands unfazed by both nature and mankind.
Shortly thereafter, I reached the Mount Galbraith Loop trail. It was at this point that I truly realized just how green the surrounding landscape had actually become.
Although it continued to get steep, it wasn’t anything crazy at all. In fact, the only somewhat rough spot was towards the end of the loop as you have to go around a steep little boulder field of sorts. After I got through that, it was smooth sailing all the way back to the trailhead.
Although I hiked this trail on a day when it was barely 60 degrees, I would recommend hiking early in the morning or during the evening due to the lack of shade once it really starts to warm up.
Something else worth noting is that the parking at the trailhead is rather limited. On many occasions when I have gone to Golden Gate Canyon State Park, I have always seen a lot of people parked along the edge of the road, especially during the weekends. Other than that, it’s a relatively easy going hike that could be completed year round.