444.3 miles: Lower Bluestem Trail, Boulder, CO

Miles: 3.5 miles

Elevation Gain: 390 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 1 hr 20 min total

Trail Head:

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/shanahan-ridge-trail

Notes:

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.

409.2 miles: Canyon Loop, Betasso Preserve, Boulder, CO

Date: September 29, 2020

Miles: 3.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 486 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 1 hr 15 min total

Trail Head:

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/canyon-loop

Notes:

Holy mountain bikes! I would not recommend hiking this trail this time of year— definitely not hiked friendly. The trail was very narrow and bikes tended to fly past with no regard for hikers. The loop is easy enough and close to boulder— gradual downhill followed by gradual uphill. It feature views of the canyon, foothills and flatirons. It’s beautiful around sunset. I would look online and hike this on a day mountain bikers are not allowed.

357 miles: North Inlet Trail to War Dance Falls (Ptarmigan Campsite), Rocky Mountain National Park, Grand Lake, CO

Date: Saturday, August 15, 2020

Miles: 14.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 1319 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Time: 6 hr 30 min total (backpacking)

Trail Head:

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/war-dance-falls-and-bench-lake-via-north-inlet-trail

Notes:

This trip was our last backcountry camping in Rocky Mountain of 2020! The end of the summer season always feels bittersweet— I’m always ready for cooler temps, but sad for shorter days. Although we have a few other backpacking weekends planned, Rocky is such a special place to me.

This trip was to the Ptarmigan backcountry campsite, nestled in the forest off North Inlet Trail on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. Our back country permit served as our timed entry pass, although the North Inlet trailhead is outside the gated / ticketed entrance, north of Grand Lake. This trailhead has limited parking, but also does not have a lot of easy destinations off the trail. You have to hike quite awhile before you get to a destination, making it less popular unless you’re backpacking.

It was a fairly easy and shaded trail, great for kids who might like playing in the creek. This is a great slow rolling trail for beginner backpackers. The Ptarmigan campsite was located right next to War Dance Falls, near where the north inlet trail junctions with Ptarmigan creek. The trail has views of meadows and the creek, but other than that is fairly the same for the entire 7 miles we hiked. We were pleased to find lots of wild strawberries, raspberries and huckleberries lining the North Inlet trail. About half way to the site, we passed by Cascade Falls which was really pretty— just a short jaunt off the trail (marked). War Dance falls, near our site, was pretty primitive and overgrown for a waterfall. It only had a social trail leading to it. I would not recommend War Dance falls as a day hike or destination — if you are planning on day hiking this trail, I would go to Cascade Falls!

Hike in (going to cascade falls)
Hike out
Cascade Falls
Backcountry campsite “Ptarmigan”
War Dance Falls

303.3 miles: Mallory Cave, Boulder, CO

Date: Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Miles: 2.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 823 feet

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Time: 1 hr 30 min total

Trail Head:

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/mallory-cave

Notes:

Another early morning hike to beat the heat and crowds. I met up with a friend and hiked to the top of Mallory Cave from the NCAR trailhead. This is a great summer hike since it features shade, and is mostly shaded during the uphill sections. From NCAR, follow signs for the Mesa Trail and Mallory Cave. The trail first descends into the valley, then after the trail junction climbs elevation intermittently to the top. The cave entrance is currently closed for bats.

Look out from Mallory Cave

300.6 miles: North Fork Shanahan Trail, Boulder, CO

Date: Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Miles: 1.3 miles

Elevation Gain: 138 feet

Difficulty: Easy

Time: 30 min total

Trail Head:

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/north-fork-shanahan-trail

Notes:

I went for an early morning hike in Boulder after running an errand– just a quick loop off the Shanahan Ridge trail head, before heading back to Denver. I’ve hiked / reported about this trail a lot, so I don’t have that much else to say about it. It starts off as a pretty wide trail, before I veered left on a more narrow path to loop back to the Shanahan Ridge trail. It was pretty quiet in the morning, most people were wearing masks and practicing social distance.