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!

426.9 miles: South Table Mountain Trail, Golden, CO

Date: October 20, 2020

Miles: 1.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 479 feet

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Time: 1 hr total

Trail Head:

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/south-table-mountain-trail–2

Notes:

The days are starting to get shorter and shorter, so I’m trying to get in as many after work hikes as possible before day light savings time. I met up with a friend in Golden this week to hike South Table Mountain— one of the first hikes I ever did in Colorado! This is a short but steep trail, with great views of the foothills, front range and city.

The parking lot is in a residential neighborhood (street parking) and snakes up the side of table mountain. The trail is narrow and rocky, but easy to find and winds through the willows. Once at the top, there was plenty of space to socially distance and watch the sunset— great quick weekday 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!

382.9 miles: Fern Creek Falls, Rocky Mountain National Park, Estes Park, Colorado

Date: September 20, 2020

Miles: 5.4 miles

Elevation Gain: 794 feet

Difficulty: Moderate

Time: 2 hr 30 min total

Trail Head:

https://www.alltrails.com/trail/us/colorado/fern-lake-trail

Notes:

For Sunday, we also decided to stick to a quieter trailhead, and started at Fern Lake summer trailhead. We followed the trail along the river (1.7 miles) to Big Pool, where we went right at the trail junction towards Fern Falls and Fern Lake. From the trail junction, Fern Falls is another mile. This next section contains the altitude gain, although it is spread out moderately. The trail winds through the pines, without too many look outs. We barely saw anyone on the hike to the falls. At the falls, we sat and had a quick snack before heading back to the car. Despite the recent snow in the mountains, this trail was dry. If you want to avoid the crowds at RMNP, I would definitely recommend this hike!