Another weekend…another hike…the beauty of living in Colorado! Today we ventured to Maxwell Falls Lower Trailhead near Evergreen. It was a glorious morning, sunny and 50° in Denver. The Front Range mountain air was slightly more crisp…39°. I dressed accordingly and covered up in warm leggings and a light jacket. Kristin and Justin, my hiking mates, were bound and determined to make this a spring day. Justin sported short sleeves the whole time and Kristin wore light “half” pants. I was quite impressed. I didn’t strip down to my T-shirt until half way through the hike.
The trail was ice-covered to start. In sticking with the spring theme, we tried following it without wearing our MICROspikes. I was the first to succumb. I wasn’t going to wipeout on the ice three days before going to Palau. Not to mention, sometimes we were quite good at taking one step forward and then slowly sliding backwards. Kristin strapped on Justin’s spikes as she decided the best place for her MICROspikes would be at home because it is SPRINGTIME! So we let Justin get the leg workout, and he did great! I’m not sure I would have made it, or at least not without busting it at least once.
We followed the trail beside the frozen creek, beneath the shade of the pines, and around moss covered rocks. Eventually we crossed the ice covered creek and climbed the switchbacks to an intersection of multiple trails at the top of the mountain. Directions written in black, permanent marker on a fallen wood post pointed us straight toward the falls. Miffed by the signage, we continued down the icy trail. While the elevation changes were very enjoyable to us, offering a nice workout and beautiful views, it seemed weird to follow the creek, switchback up a mountain, and then hike down to get to the waterfall which much to my dismay was frozen. I was hoping the water would be moving fast enough for part of it to be melted and flowing by now as we were blessed to see parts of the creek tumbling along in the sunny areas.
I may have to revisit this hike in the summer as it looked like the falls would be lovely. I bet the chipmunk sunning itself on the rock nearby thought so too! We continued on as birds chirped and woodpeckers tapped at the trees until we reached the Cliff Loop Trail. We tacked on this loop which added almost another 2 miles to the 4 mile Maxwell Falls Trail. The loop was appropriately named “Cliff”. We stood on the rock ledge and looked out over the valley and surrounding mountains. We even found some bolt anchors for climbing on the cliff, so we may have to try that out soon as well since we’ve been going to the climbing gym every Wednesday.
We finished up the loop and retraced our steps back toward the parking lot. With about two miles left, we heard a loud grunt/roar in the distance. It kind of sounded like a bear. I’m not sure if they are out of hibernation yet, but we didn’t wait around to find out. Kristin seemed to pick up the pace! As we got closer to the car, we started crossing the paths of fellow hikers. It is so great to start early. We were at the trailhead by 9:30 and there were only two cars in the lot. By the time we left, all the spots were taken!
Kristin and Justin turned me on to an app called Map My Hike. I love it! It tracks the distance hiked, the calories burned, the elevation gained, split times for each mile, and it maps the route! I burned 924 calories, hiked 5.73 miles and gained 1,876 feet in 2.5 hrs. We averaged a 26 minute mile pace which included our stops for pictures. Our first mile took almost 34 minutes…probably because we spent a lot of time sliding backward…and mile four was our fastest, 20 minutes. The trail started at 7,884 feet, and we climbed as high as 8,451 feet, but the elevation changed multiple times. I think I will be using this app A LOT (except it drains my battery)! I will be using the Map My Ride app for cycling too.
Awesome hike! Fun with friends! And a possible repeat of Maxwell Falls when the water is flowing! Off to warm weather for a while…ETB.