Road Trip to the Rockies: Chasm Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park

Trail(s): Chasm Falls via Old Fall River Road
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Fees: Day Pass per Auto: $20
Distance: 5+ miles
Dogs Allowed: No

I bought a National Parks pass at the end of last year, and haven’t used it too much.  As such, without dog sitting this weekend, I wanted get a hike in at Rocky Mountain National Park as dogs aren’t allowed on the trails. Continue reading “Road Trip to the Rockies: Chasm Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park”


Road Trip to the Rockies: Winter Park

Road trip with Friends to Winter Park

My friends, Brian and Erin, kindly shared their condo in Winter Park with me this weekend.  I felt so fortunate to be able to head to the mountains Friday afternoon and miss the Saturday morning ski traffic.  What a luxury they afforded me!  On top of including me in their weekly winter trek to the mountains, as I don’t ski, they graciously joined me in snow shoeing on one of the biggest powder days of the lackluster snow season.

Saturday morning we geared up, stepped out of the condo, and wondered what in the heck we were doing.  Wind whipped tiny flecks of snow into our faces as we shoved our packs and shoes into the trunk of their convertible Audi complete with snow tires!  Brian drove us 45 minutes to the outskirts of Rocky Mountain National Park where we found the trailhead to Shadow Mountain Shore.

Continue reading “Road Trip to the Rockies: Winter Park”

Roadtrip to the Rockies: Deer Mountain Trail

Deer Mountain Trail

Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Fees: Review website as they are in flux
Distance: 6 miles

It was a cold New Year’s day, but I really wanted to start the new year by getting outside.  I checked the forecast all week, and even on New Year’s Day, it was expected to be warmer in Estes Park than in Denver.  This is unusual, but was also encouraging as I loaded up my car with my backpack, micro-spikes, and multiple layers of clothing! Continue reading “Roadtrip to the Rockies: Deer Mountain Trail”

Road Trip to the Rockies: Windy Yet Wonderful Hike to Mills Lake

Mills Lakes

Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Fees: $20 day pass as of post
Elevation: 9,240-9,955 feet
Distance: 5.3 miles

Another Saturday, another missed forecast…these weathermen!  We planned a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park to Mills Lake.  While we expected cold weather (27-35 degrees) and blue skies, 40 mph sustainable winds were not in the forecast.  The wind was supposed to be over on Friday! Continue reading “Road Trip to the Rockies: Windy Yet Wonderful Hike to Mills Lake”

A Perfect Birthday!

April 14, 2016

I had the greatest birthday! I started the day with a hike in Rocky Mountain National Park. Tanya and Diana met me at my house, and we carpooled to Lumpy Ridge Trailhead where we arrived to the parking area around 10am. While I think all of us have a park pass, this area isn’t near the main entrance of the park doesn’t actually require one. Since it was April and Thursday, the trail wasn’t too busy either. Another added bonus, a week after a massive snow storm the south facing slope was snow free, so we actually got to hike rather than snowshoe.

We started gaining a decent amount of elevation as we climbed a stairstep trail surrounded by large granite boulders and unique rock formations. Being the beginning of the hiking season, we took a few opportunities to catch our breath while enjoying the view. We worked up a sweat quickly and shed layers down to short sleeves in the sunny fifty degree weather before we even reached Gem Lake, located 1.8 miles into our 7.8 mile roundtrip.

After admiring the lake tucked beneath the cliffs, we carried on to the trail junction where we turned left. The trail leveled off as we crossed over the ridge and walked through some open space before entering the forest. The trail narrowed as we descended through the pines. Occasionally, we had to walk carefully through some snowy areas or take short detour, but for the most part we stayed on the undulating path.

Eventually we reached another ridge and expected to see “Balanced Rock” at the top which we didn’t immediately spot. We descended again, and there it was on the right side of the trail. It was a lovely spot for lunch slightly out of the wind. As we snacked on fruit, nuts, sandwiches and some birthday bundt cake, the clouds hid the sun and we were soon in our puffy jackets that once again we stripped off as we climbed back up the ridge!

It was nice to see a few wildflowers and just listen to the chirps of chipmunks and birds with spring on its way. We even spotted a bunny at the very end! We finished up our 7.8 miles around 2pm, and I got home just a few hours before our family went for dinner. We tried Bones, an asian fusion restaurant, that was very nice. David spoiled me with a chocolate cake and wonderful gifts before we headed out to meet friends for drinks.

Charlie Brown’s knows how the treat people right on their birthday…$30 of drinks on the house! Chris, Ashley, Kelly, Vela, and Bridget all joined us, and we ended the night singing along with the piano player! FUN DAY…ETB

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Snowshoeing Fern Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Fern Lake Trail

Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Fees: Day Use = $20, Weekly = $30, Annual = $50
Elevation: 8,165-9,503 feet
Distance: 8-9 miles roundtrip

My friend Jim organized another snowshoe in Rocky Mountain National Park. He does so about every other week, and it is nice to be able to tag along. Our group of five met at the visitor’s center before entering the park around 8:30am. We were in the parking area and walking down the road to the trailhead around 9am.

To start our trek, we only needed our micro-spikes as the snow was somewhat packed down, but as we gained elevation the snow thickened. The last mile, from the falls to the lake, was somewhat steep as we switch-backed up the mountain. David led the way and toward the end had to break trail. Continue reading “Snowshoeing Fern Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park”

Snowshoeing Sandbeach Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park

Sandbeach Lake Trail

Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Fees: Day Use = $20, Weekly = $30, Annual = $50
Elevation: 8,312-10,283 feet
Distance: 8.8 miles roundtrip

The forecast called for a cold day of snowshoeing and it was! I think the high may have been 20 degrees. At first we thought it might be slightly warmer as the sun peaked through the clouds, but it didn’t take long for a light snow to fall and the sun to disappear for the day. Continue reading “Snowshoeing Sandbeach Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park”

The Rockies: A Visit to Rocky Mountain National Park

July 9, 2014

My friend Tanya and her son August plan on a backpacking trip along the Colorado Trail later this summer. As such, she they have been planning some long hikes. Fortunately, my friend Diana and I got to tag along and go to Rocky Mountain National Park for a ten mile hike to Finch Lake.

Finch Lake is located in a less populated area of the park. The location coupled with the fact we went on weekday made it a perfect day for trail to ourselves most the way. The trail, supported by a rock wall, immediately ascended along the side of the mountain as it wended past lichen covered boulders situated beneath the cover of evergreens.

As we continued, we broke into more open spaces blanketed in wildflowers with views of Long’s Peak, one Colorado’s many 14ers. We walked at quick clip while stepping over countless rocks like we were climbing up a dry waterfall, we crossed the creek, and soon arrived at Finch Lake a few hours after our 10 am start.

The forecast called for afternoon storms which wasn’t a surprise since I think it has rained every afternoon all summer! Clouds accumulated as we snacked on lunch while sitting lakeside with a view of snow-capped mountains. Soon we heard claps of thunder in the distance. It was time to descend, even faster than we ascended, with the exception of stopping to dip our heads in the creek and watch the bunnies hop away.

We timed our descent perfectly, just as we left the tree cover, sprinkles of rain fell upon us. Amazingly, the storm must have circled around us as we had listened to the thunder and seen flashes of lightning toward the end of our descent, and the streets outside the park, just a few miles away, were lined in hail! What a lucky, nice day of hiking we had!! ETB

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The Rockies: Romping Around Rocky Mountain National Park

April 4, 2014

Yesterday, it snowed six inches in Denver, and today was forecasted to be sunny in the high 50’s. “A perfect day to snowshoe”, I thought.

I have been longing to visit Rocky Mountain National Park in the winter time, so off I went. Going to the park is an all day event. Due to the floods last fall, certain roads are still under construction. Once I arrived in Lyon, I was greeted with a detour sign as the main road was closed.

The Highway 7 detour, however, was gorgeous. It took me through St. Vrain Canyon where rocky hills towered over the babbling brook which just six months ago was a raging river out of its banks. The recent snow lightly blanketed the landscape of evergreens, a pleasant view as I wound through the S turns on my way to the park entrance.

IMG_3917 st vrain

The $20 entry fee for four hours in the park was a bit steep, but worth it nonetheless because I wanted to go! It would have been nice to share the expense with fellow hikers, but I don’t know too many people with Friday off, so I ventured out on my own.

My visit brought back memories of my three days at the park during my trip around the USA…great hikes, awesome campground, amazing elk, and a tense drive across Trail Ridge Road! Today, I wanted to hike in a different part of the park as three days wasn’t nearly enough time to cover all the terrain, so instead of visiting the popular Bear Lake area, I took the advice of the RMNP paper and hiked a featured trail called Cub Lake.

I wanted to hike six miles and this trail was 4.6 miles roundtrip. By looking at the map, I could connect to Fern Lake Trail to add some distance. So, just after the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station, I turned left and then took the first right toward the Moraine Campground. I found the Cub Lake Trailhead shortly after turning onto a dirt road.

The trail began in a valley, crossed a creek immediately and gradually increased in elevation. While the trail through the meadow was snow-free, I strapped my snowshoes and micro-spikes to my pack just in case. After all, we had a decent snowfall yesterday. For the first mile or so, I stepped around mud puddles, ice patches and around a few rocks as I listened to the robins chip, watched the geese peck for food, and admired a mallard and it’s mate sunning on a rock near a marshy area.

Eventually I reach tree cover where the snow was protected from the sun and it was time to fish out my micro-spikes. I strapped them on and made new tracks in the pristine snow on the sometimes indiscernible trail. I was thankful to find a track (usually a post hole) from a traveler on a previous day as it helped me find my way. I “post-holed” a few times myself, once conveniently when I had removed my glove to snap a photo and after losing my balance my hand ended up icy-cold.

As I picked my way through the fresh snow, I came upon an aspen grove part of which was previously burned. As I understand it, an aspen grove is one tree as the roots are all connected. It was interesting to see one Aspen burned and another unaffected right next to each other. It also appeared like the elk liked to rub there antlers against the burned trees as the burnt bark was rubbed off in many places bearing a light inner skin.

It took me 1.5 hours to get the lake. I don’t know what was taking me so long as it didn’t seem terribly steep with only 540 of elevation gain. Perhaps it was due to breaking the trail or perhaps it was due to enjoying the beauty around me…though I just felt slightly sluggish. The lake was snow covered and it was difficult to differentiate between land and water. Being by myself, I decided to stop for lunch at the lake versus blazing more of the trail and mistakenly falling in! Just when I was finishing my peanut butter sandwich a family of three showed a bit winded as well. They thanked me for hiking first as my tracks kept them from getting lost!

IMG_3876 cub lake

The wind picked up and I started getting chilled, so I said my farewells and headed back down toward my car. I came across a few more hikers along the way, not too many and as one moved over to the side, he “post-holed”. With a smile he remarked, “Just cooling my feet.” I’ll have to remember that!

While I didn’t spot anymore wildlife on the trail, I spotted a herd of at least 30 elk in the meadow between the campground and the trailhead. What a treat! Most of them were resting, but one was grazing and a few jumped to their feet as cars stopped along the road. I love seeing animals in the wild. On my drive back, I saw three more small herds. I suppose they waited for temperature to warm up before they came out to play!

While I would have liked to stick around the park longer, it was time for me to head back to Denver for the first Friday Art Walk in RiNo. My new favorite place is the Chocolate Crisis Center…WOW, was their chocolate good! And the whole concept was great with the chocolate packaged in a first aid kit along with a “prescription”! Another great day in the Rockies. ETB

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