446.5 miles: Lichen Peak, North Table Mountain Open Space, Golden, CO

Miles: 2.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 590 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Time: 1 hr 20 min total

Trail Head:

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/lichen-peak-trail

Notes:

A few weeks ago Travis and I were able to complete this quick hike during the weekday for sunset. I’ve always had this hike on my Alltrails list, but I always passed it up thinking it would be too crowded. From the parking lot, the trail gains almost all the elevation profile in the first .7 miles. This part of the trail is multi use and wide. Once to the plateau, we followed the trail left to Lichen Peak (hiker only). Trav and I were pleasantly surprised— we had the trail to ourselves once we passed the trail junction! We sat at the peak for awhile, then hiked a bit around the top for some added mileage before hiking back down.

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.

430.8 miles: Castle, Meadow and Parmalee Gulch Trail Loop (Walker Home Ruins), Mount Falcon Park, Indian Hills, CO

Date: October 31, 2020

Miles: 3.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 610 feet

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Time: 1 hr 20 min total

Trail Head:

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/

Notes:

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!

425.3 miles: Rabbit Ears Mesa Trail, McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area, Fruita, CO

Date: October 10, 2020

Miles: 6.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 843 feet

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Time: 3 hr total

Trail Head:

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/rabbits-ear-mesa-trail

Notes:

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!

415.2 miles: N Crestone Creek Trail, Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, Rio Grande National Forest, Crestone, CO

Date: October 3-4, 2020

Miles: 6 miles

Elevation Gain: 1240 feet

Difficulty: Moderate (backpacking)

Time: 4 hr total

Trail Head:

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/north-crestone-creek-trail–2

Notes:

This past weekend I met my friend down in southern Colorado for a fall backpacking trip into the Sangre de Cristo mountains. It was a great way to see the aspens before they are all gone— this area was definitely at peak. The trailhead is close to the town of Crestone, in the Rio Grande National Forest (no daily fee required). There is a backcountry registry at the trailhead and plenty of bear activity— make sure that you put trash, food and scented items in your trunk.

The trail begins with a slow gradual uphill next to the creek for about the first mile. This stretch had magnificent aspen views and felt cool and shaded next to the creek. Once to the switchbacks, the trail becomes significantly more narrow and rocky. The majority of the elevation (~1K ft) is packed into the next mile of the trail. This section of the trail is also pretty exposed without shade, so you feel the full blast of the heat on you as you crank uphill. At about 2.5 miles, the trail elevation gain becomes more gradual and there is a beautiful view of the valley below. It was so pretty to be above the aspens!

The trail has a slight downhill towards the trail junction with North Crestone Lake and the Comanche-Venable loop. Before you reach the trail junction (near mile 3), there is a creek crossing, followed by two large campsites. We were happy to find no one else had set up camp here! We took the campsite farthest from the trail, and began to set up camp. Once camp was set up, we hiked a little further following the North Fork trail, which had beautiful views of aspens and the valley. Great moderate backpack! It was still pretty warm there at night and we slept pretty comfortable.

Quick bonus story— when we finally got to our camp site and took off our packs, we realized that we forgot the tent poles 🤦🏼‍♀️. Luckily, I had brought a pretty big rope and we had a lot of paracord. We were able to secure the tent using rocks inside the tent, then tying the paracord to rocks / trees nearby. We strung the large rope between the two biggest trees, then used a carabiner to clip the top of the tent to the rope. Check out the pic below! I’m really proud that we stuck it out, found a solution and still were able to camp!!

Left and followed N FK.
Morning view of the valley
Hiking out in the morning- view of the valley
Tent suspended by ropes and rocks
Sunset in the Sangres