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Happy Hiking: Sheep Creek Trail

I had the pleasure to join a handful of ladies on a hike on Sheep Creek Trail this past week.  Amazingly, despite having driven the 285 Corridor countless times, I hadn’t heard of this trail or turned off into this National Forest Area outside of Fairplay, Colorado.

How to Get to There

Many times, I have passed by the brown signs for forest access and wondered what I’d find if I turned off the beaten path.  I’ve told myself, one day I’ll explore there.  Going to Sheep Creek Trail marked one of the places of my list.

After heading down the dirt road, CR5 for seven miles, I followed the All Trails directions and took a few more turns to finally reach the Sheep Creek trailhead.  The trail is 18.3 miles long, so for anyone who doesn’t like turning around, this may be better suited for mountain bikers or backpackers.

Fall Colors

For us, we were just out to enjoy the fall colors as the dogs ran around for exercise.  While the first weekend of October is a little late to look for golden aspen above 10,000 feet, the trail was still pretty and definitely made it on my list for the autumn season next year.

Annie on the hunt

Not only does the moderate dirt path pass through countless aspen groves, the surrounding hillsides are loaded with the deciduous trees.  I can only imagine what this area looks like at peak season.  What a hidden gem!

resting on sheep creek trail
Would be solid yellow in background at peak season

The Sheep Creek Trail

The trail begins up a rutted road, though it is passable for skilled SUV drivers.  It is not rocky, just big ditches need to be avoided.  Then it passes through rather dry and open terrain with fallen trees, golden aspen, and an evergreen forest.

It makes a couple of creek crossings which was nice for the dogs that most certainly travelled twice the distance that we did when they weren’t finding animal bones.  There were in fact several bleached carcasses along the way as well as a few live deer too.  The territory is either popular amongst hunters or mountain lions, I guess.  Fortunately, our group of four ladies and three dogs kept any threats at bay. 

In fact, we saw very few people (yes, I sometimes consider people more threatening than wild animals).  The Sheep Creek Trail is only lightly trafficked and most popular amongst mountain bikers.  I suspect on a weekday fall day photographers could enjoy autumn dreamscapes!

In the end, we hiked a leisurely 7+ miles on an absolutely perfect fall day with the exception of the continued smoke from wildfires in Colorado and the west.  What a nice day and company!  ETB

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Beth Bankhead

Former public finance professional turned travel photographer and blogger.

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