Happy Hiking: Rosalie to Abyss Trail

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The Plan

With our property located near Bailey, I have hiked most of the out-and-back surrounding trails off 285 and Guanella Pass.  As a result, I have been trying to mix it up with different combinations on trails.  Today, my friends, Tanya and Jimmy, joined me in a point to point which combined a portion of Rosalie Trail with Abyss Trail.

Up until the State of Colorado created the app, COTREX, I wasn’t sure how long the hike would be.  Now, however, hikers may use the measurement tool to calculate distances.  Admittedly, I still faced some user error, as upon proposing it to my friends, I came up with 8+ miles and 12+ miles.  I’m still uncertain of the exact length as our watches indicated a 10 mile hike.

How to Get There

Regardless, we made it easy on ourselves with a downhill trek.  We dropped one car at the Burning Bear Parking, the Abyss Trailhead and then continued up Guanella Pass.  The Rosalie Trailhead begins near the Bierstadt Parking Lot.  Fortunately, between the populartiy both 14ers and fall colors on Guanella Pass, we found a roadside spot next to the beginning of the trail.

The Hike

Rosalie Trail begins above tree line at 11,798 feet and heads southeast.  It passes through the tundra and golden willows before it reaches a valley cut by a creek.  It continues to descend below treeline where it connects with Abyss Trail.

The first half of this hike along Rosalie Trail was mostly vacant.  We crossed paths with just two people.  We enjoyed the solitude before we join Abyss Trail with many leaf peepers and hikers aiming to reach Abyss Lake.

Before we followed the creek down through one aspen grove after the next, we stopped for a snack by a pond in the basin.  The willows were so prolific that we couldn’t see fellow hikers just fifty feet away!

To our disappointment, the aspen leaves had already fallen, thus most of the white trees were bare.  That said, the dirt path, blanketed in yellow, was uniquely attractive.  Toward the end of our descent at a lower elevation, a few golden trees dotted the landscape, but mostly the colors escaped us with the exception of the drive.

The Drive

It is amazing what a difference 500 feet make!  The drive all the way down from Abyss Trailhead to Grant featured vibrant orange and yellow aspen.  We had plenty of time to enjoy them along the way, as the traffic was heavy.  If possible, I recommend hiking on Guanella Pass during the fall on a weekday!  ETB

5 second video of Guanella Pass Road

PSA: Don’t forget your 10 essentials and stay hydrated!

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned award winning travel blogger and photographer sharing the earth's beauty one word and image at a time.

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