Quick repeat hike in south Boulder— Shanahan Ridge is always a lot less busy than most Boulder trailheads. This trail starts in a neighborhood and extends into a vista framed by the flat irons. My friend and I met up and just hiked Lower Bluestem and back, relatively flat and a very wide trail.
This open space is a short distance from Denver, but gets pretty crowded, especially since most trails are multi use. However, it was quieter than usual on a late afternoon off season. For this quick loop, we took Lithic trail to Mesa Top Trail, then followed that to Cottonwood Canyon Trail. We parked right off the road for the trailhead, then crossed the road and took the connector to the main part of the Lithic trail. The trail is narrow for multi use, and pretty rocky, making it difficult to navigate when crowded. We completed the loop counter clockwise, topping out at elevation around mile 1.5. Easy, quick hike in the metro area.
I can’t believe this was my first time hiking at Deer Creek Canyon Park! This is a really scenic open space south of red rocks, with a few different trail systems. We started this hike from Plymouth Creek Trail, which is a hiker only route. From Plymouth Creek, the trail gradually gains elevation— this section has little shade and features views of the foothills and red rocks. Once at the trail junction, we followed Meadowlark Trail to the right— this section gets wider and steeper (also it becomes multi-use). From here, we made the mistake of taking the first Plymouth Mountain trail on the left— instead, you want to continue to the second junction. Or, take the scenic route like we did! At the second junction, the trail becomes steep until the scenic look out. On the way down, we followed Meadowlark Trail to the parking lot for a change of pace. This trail was a steeper decline, but shorter. Great hike!
I fell a little behind posting these! For Halloween we decided to go on an evening / sunset hike at Jeff Co Open Space Mount Falcon Park. We parked at the west trailhead and completed this easy loop which featured ruins from the Walker Home.
The trailhead has limited parking— we parked at the satellite lot and started the loop from Parmalee Gulch Trail. This trail first descends into the gulch, then gently climbs back up with views of the canyon. Once we hit the trail junction, we followed Meadow Trail to the Walker Home Ruins. The ruins were pretty cool. From there, we followed Castle trail to the right, back to the junction with Parmalee Gulch. Great local hike!
We continued our desert hikes by exploring McInnis Canyons National Conservation area, right on the Colorado /Utah border. We took the Rabbit Valley exit, then followed the dirt road to signs for Rabbit Valley. The trailhead is accessible by 2 WD and had plenty of parking. The sign for the trailhead does list the trail mileage wrong— it says the loop is 4.8 miles.
The first 1.2 miles of the trail steadily climbs elevation. This section is not the most scenic, since it overlooks the interstate. However, once to a mile we did not really hear the road noise. This section of the trail was also pretty rocky and eroded in certain areas. Once to the top of the Mesa, you have a beautiful view of McInnis Canyons and the Colorado River. Once on the top of the mesa, the trail elevation tapers off considerably. There were quite a bit of pinyon trees which offered a bit of shade. We only saw one other group of people the whole time!