Trail Length: 2.5 Mile Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 6,870’
Elevation Gain: 500’
Trailhead Location: From Denver, take Highway 285 south about 21 miles to Pine Junction. Turn south on County Road 126/Pine Valley Road. Take the windy road 5.8 miles and turn left on Crystal Lake Road. Follow the road about 1.3 miles to the lower parking lot where the road ends.
We decided to do a late afternoon hike on Sunday at Pine Valley Ranch near Pine Grove, Colorado. Pine Valley Ranch is part of the Jefferson County Open Space park system. Since we got a late start, we only did a 2.5-mile loop but it was still nice to get out and enjoy the afternoon. The trails were surprisingly dry. We had received 7-8 inches of snow on Wednesday so I expected them to be muddy but they weren’t. We started down the trail a little before 3:00pm.
Pine Valley Ranch is in the area of the Hayman Fire burn area. The Hayman Fire started on June 8, 2002 and burned 138,114 acres. Even though the fire was 13 years ago, the devastation remains.
We headed along the shore of Pine Lake and soon took a left and started climbing up the Park View Trail. The trail climbs rapidly and we soon had a good view looking back down on Pine Lake.
Spring is finally starting to arrive in the mountains (at least at the lower elevations). One of the first signs of Spring is the blooming of the pasque flower.
We also had a view down to the South Platte River. We could see a couple of dogs enjoying the water.
A bench in the area provided a nice view looking across the valley.
Looking across the valley to the ridge on the opposite side, we could see a few lone pine trees atop the ridge that had survived the fire.
A view looking off the trail up the hillside into the burn area.
We continued on up the trail where it leveled out somewhat on the top. We had great views to the east of the small mountain town of Pine Grove.
A close up of some of the interesting rock formations in the area.
Another shot to the east shows some more exposed rock as well as a whole hillside that was burned in the fire.
Some interesting clumps of grass growing in certain areas along the trail.
From the top of the ridge we headed down and came to the intersection with the Strawberry Jack Trail after hiking nearly 1 mile from our starting point. Looking back up the Park View Trail and direction we had come from.
We took a right onto the Strawberry Jack Trail and continued along that trail for about ½ mile until we came to the intersection with the Buck Gulch Trail. A shot looking back up the Strawberry Jack Trail and the direction we had come from.
We took a right onto the Buck Gulch Trail and headed back north. To the right of the trail we saw an old chimney on the hillside. It was interesting as we saw no remnants of a cabin or anything else around, just the chimney.
A shot of Lisa on the trail that I took when I was up near the old chimney.
More pasque flowers along the trail.
We arrived back down at the lake and crossed a bridge and took a right onto the Narrow Gauge Trail. A view looking back up the Buck Gulch Trail.
The Narrow Gauge Trail headed east along the South Platte River. A shot looking back up the river.
We arrived back at the car a little before 5:00pm and headed back home. A shot of some deer we saw as we were heading home along Elk Creek.
Although it was a short hike, it was still good to get out and enjoy the outdoors.