South Valley Park

Round-Trip Length: 3.69 miles
Trailhead Location: From C-470 and Ken Caryl Avenue take South Valley Road and park in either the north parking lot or continue down to Deer Creek Canyon Road to park in the south lot.

My “go-to” hike this afternoon after doing some yard work at home.  I started from the south parking lot and headed up the Coyote Song Trail.  There were wildflowers out in bloom.


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I decided to take the Lyon’s Back trail up to the top of the ridge (0.02 miles) to catch the views from there.

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Some of the trees were in bloom and very fragrant.

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I headed back down to the Coyote Song Trail and continued up to the north entrance of the park.  A sign indicated there was mountain lion activity in the area.


I always take a slight detour to walk out of the north entrance to see if there are any good reflection shots of the red rocks in Mann Reservoir.  I was in luck today and got some good shots.




After getting my shots, I headed back into the park and headed down the Swallow Trail which eventually hooked back up with the Coyote Song Trail.  This hike is always a great, short hike close to home with great views!

Roxborough State Park

Trail Length: 4.62 miles round trip
Elevation: 6,178′ – 6,258′
Elevation gain: 362′
Difficulty: Easy
Trailhead Location:    Take Wadsworth south past Chatfield State Park. Turn left on Waterton Road (just before the entrance to Lockheed Martin.) Continue on Waterton Road—crossing the South Platte River, until it ends at North Rampart Range Road (1.6 miles) Turn right (south) on North Rampart Range Road. Continue south past Roxborough Village and the Foothills Water Treatment Plant. (2.3 miles) At the intersection of North Rampart Range Road and Roxborough Park Road (just before the entrance to Arrowhead golf course), turn left onto Roxborough Park Road. Take the next right on East Roxborough Drive(about 50 yards away) to enter the park.

It had been a while since we had hiked out at Roxborough State Park so we decided it was time to head back out there.  A little history about the park.

In 1888 Henry S. Persse moved to Denver from New York.  In 1902 along with business partners, he formed a land development company that gave him sole ownership of the land called “Washington Park”.  The name was derived from the sandstone formation resembling George Washington’s profile.  Persse later named the area Roxborough Park after his ancestral land in Ireland.

Persse constructed his stone house in 1903 from locally quarried stone with red mud used as mortar. He never lived in the house year round but used it for guests to promote his vision of a Roxborough Park resort.  It was to have a hotel, golf course and guest cottages.  After a visit by Denver Mayor Robert W. Speer, the mayor felt the place was far too scenic to be in private hands and suggested it become part of the Denver’s park system.

In 1975, the Colorado Division of State Parks purchased 500 acres of Persse’s land to form the Roxborough State Park and since then has brought the total up to over 3,000 acres. Roxborough State Park is the only state park designated by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Natural Landmark.  The park is known for its 300-million-year-old red sandstone fountain formations that tilt at a 60 degree angle.

A couple of shots near the visitor’s center.



We headed down the Fountain Valley Trail.  A short distance down the trail, we took the Fountain Valley Overlook spur for some great views of the valley and rock formations.

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We continued on down the trail and took the Lyons Overlook for some more great views.

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Heading back down from the overlook to the main trail.


We continued on the loop to the Persse homestead.




We continued on around the loop through the rock formations.


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We made our way back to the visitor center and then decided to take the Willow Creek trail loop for some additional hiking.  A couple of shots from that trail.

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Selfie for the day and our route.


Roxborough Map

This quote sums up Roxborough State Park.



Meyer Ranch

Trail Length: 5 miles round trip
Elevation: 7,890 ft -8,814 ft
Elevation gain: 924 ft.
Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead Location:    Take U.S. Highway 285 south from C-470 towards Aspen Park.  Exit the highway at mile marker 239, turn south onto South Turkey Creek Road to enter Meyer Ranch parking lot.

Last Saturday it was time to decide where to head out for a hike.  The temperature was nice and we decided to stick to a lower elevation and enjoy the warmth.  We hadn’t hiked in Meyer Ranch for a few years, so we decided that would be our destination for the day.

A little history about the park.  Meyer Ranch is part of the Jefferson County Open Space park system and contains 4.3 miles of trails within its 525 acres.  Duncan McIntyre and his family homesteaded the land by 1870.  Louis Ramboz bought the McIntyre property in 1883 and had the present ranch house built in 1889.  He worked the ranch for hay, timber, and cattle until 1912.

Legend has it that in the late 1880s the ranch served as the winter quarters for animals of the P. T. Barnum Circus.  Interestingly, when the most recent private landowner, Norman Meyer, was remodeling the house in 1955, he found a board with the inscription: “Circus Town”.

A portion of what is now Meyer Ranch Park was used in the early 1940s for a ski hill.  Remnants of the ski area are still visible at the upper end of the park, which is now a forested aspen grove.  Norman and Ethel Meyer purchased the ranch in 1950 and used it mainly for grazing and haying.  They continue to reside adjacent to the park.  Jefferson County acquired much of the land in 1986.  The Legault summit was acquired in 2002.

We headed up the Owl’s Perch Trail to the Lodge Pole Loop.


A short distance up this trail, we turned onto the Sunny Aspen Trail.




Most of the trail is in the forest, but as we climbed up higher, we did get a peek of the mountains through the trees.

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We turned onto the Old Ski Run Trail and headed up to the top.


We climbed up to the highest part of the park and sat on a rock outcropping for a snack and to take in the views.

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On our way back down we took in the snow-capped mountain views again.



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Back down in the valley looking across at a ranch.


We had to capture a selfie of us at the end of the hike!


Our route:

Meyer Ranch Map

Nymph-Dream-Emerald Lakes

Trail Length: 4 miles round trip
Elevation: 9,475 ft -10,140 ft
Elevation gain: 665 ft with and additional 185 ft.
Difficulty: Easy

Trailhead Location:    Bear Lake Trailhead – Rocky Mountain National Park.   Bear Lake is located at the end of Bear Lake Road.  From Estes Park, take the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station entrance into the park and then take the first left onto Bear Lake Road.

Friends of mine called last Saturday and asked if I was interested in heading up to Rocky Mountain National Park for a snowshoe hike on Sunday.  I never turn down the opportunity to head up into the mountains for a hike.  The forecast was for snowstorm to be moving in to the area and it was supposed to start snowing around noon.  We headed up around 7:45am hoping to get up before the storm hit.  We arrived at the trailhead around 10am to beautiful weather.

The park ranger said the trails were quite packed down and we really didn’t need snowshoes.  I did wear my yak tracks which helped on some of the icy sections.  We started up the trail.

More beautiful views through the trees as we headed up towards Nymph Lake.

Nymph Lake is only a short 0.5 miles up the trail and we soon arrived.

We headed off to the right in the direction of the summer trail.  Other people were heading straight across the lake.  We later discovered the way they were heading was a better traveled winter trail.  The trail we ended up following was not the summer trail either and we ended up heading up quite a steep section.  The one advantage to the route we took was that if offered views looking down on Bear Lake that we had never seen before in the summer.

We decided to continue following the tracks we had been following – others had obviously gone this way and we were heading back in the direction we needed to go.  We were losing our sunshine and blue skies.  A view of Longs Peak (14,259′) through the trees.

We eventually made our way to Dream Lake where we stopped for a snack and short break.

A view of Hallett Peak.

While taking our break, we saw a Steller’s Jay and a Mountain chickadee.

After our break, we headed across Dream Lake towards Emerald Lake.

Emerald Lake is only 0.7 miles from Dream Lake.  After climbing up the trail, we arrived.

We walked out onto the lake to take in the views.  Winter lets you get a different perspective of the surrounding peaks from the center of the lake.

We noticed some skiers heading up on the far side of the lake.

We headed back down the trail and arrived back at Dream Lake.

We continued on down through the trees to Nymph Lake and finally back to Bear Lake.

It was snowing quite a bit when we arrived back at Bear Lake.

Our route for the day.

As we often do, we stopped to have lunch after our hike.  We stopped at Oskar Blues in Lyons before heading on home.


Left Hand Reservoir/Brainard Lake

Round-Trip Length:  8.0 miles roundtrip
Start-End Elevation:  10,061′ – 10,661′
Elevation Change:  +600 net elevation gain
Skill Level:  Moderate
Trailhead Location:  Take Highway 72 to the town of Ward.  Just north of Ward turn west on Forest Service Road 102 (Brainard Lake Road) and drive 2.5 miles to the winter closure and parking lot.

Although we have done quite a bit of hiking this winter, we hadn’t been up in the High Country for any winter snow hiking/snowshoeing.  I checked the weather for this weekend and Saturday was supposed to be a gorgeous day in the mountains – warm, sunny, and no wind!  I called good friends of ours to see if they would be interested for a snowshoe hike up in the Indian Peaks Wilderness area and they were in.  We headed up to the Brainard Lake area.  This area is usually quite windy in the winter but today was a beautiful sunny calm day.  We also decided to head up to this area because as of Monday, March 5th the road from Highway 72 up to the winter parking lot (and all the way to the summer parking area at Brainard Lake) will be closed for reconstruction until June 28th so this weekend was the last chance to get up to Brainard Lake until the summer.

We arrived at the winter parking lot.  Although there was snow, they hadn’t had any fresh snow in a little while so we decided to leave our snowshoes in the car and just hike in boots.  It ended up being a good decision.  Although there was plenty of snow, the trail was packed down and we were able to hike fine just in boots if we stayed in the center of the trail.  However, one step off to the side and we post-holed quite deep into the snow!  But, without snowshoes we were able to hike faster and cover more mileage.

We started our hike by heading up the trail/road to Left Hand Reservoir.  None of us had ever been up to this reservoir in either the winter or summer.  Left Hand Creek and Left Hand Reservoir were named for Chief Left Hand of the Arapaho Indians.  Heading up the 4-wheel drive road.


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A view of Mount Audubon (13,223′) from the trail.

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Getting close to the reservoir, we could see by the trees that it normally is quite windy up here.  However, we were fortunate today to have a calm day.

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After 1.90 miles, we arrived just below the reservoir dam.

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We climbed the dam to get a view of the frozen reservoir with perfect views of the Indian Peaks.  Tracing a clockwise direction, there is Niwot Mountain to the south southeast, Navajo Peak, Apache Peak and Shoshoni Peak  to the southwest; and Mount Toll, Paiute Peak, and Mount Audubon to the west northwest.

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Mt. Toll.

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After a lunch break at Left Hand Reservoir, we headed back down the trail for the junction with Little Raven Ski Trail where we thought we could cut over towards Brainard Lake.

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Looking back up towards the Left Hand Reservoir.

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When we arrived at the trail junction, we realized the Little Raven Ski Trail was, exactly that, a ski trail.  Hikers were not allowed on that trail so we had to continue on down the road.  A quarter of a mile from the parking lot, we came to a trail that we could cut over to the trail that headed up to Brainard Lake.  So, we cut over and then proceeded to head back up towards Brainard Lake.

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We headed up the trail towards Brainard Lake, passing a small frozen pond with great views.

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Arriving at Brainard Lake.

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We stopped for another break here and took in the views. This is the nicest weather I’ve had at Brainard Lake in the winter!

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Peaks from left to right:  Pawnee Peak, Mount Toll, Paiute Peak, Mt. Audubon

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A view of Mt. Audubon.

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After our break, it was time to head back down to the trailhead parking and into the mountain town of Nederland for some pizza and beer at the Crosscut Pizzeria and Taphouse.  The weather was so nice we sat out on the outdoor patio!

Our hike route for the day.

Brainard Hike Map





Hudson Gardens

Always wanting to get outside somewhere over the weekend, we took a short walk along the Mary Carter Greenway Trail along the South Platte River this afternoon and strolled around Hudson Gardens.

The Hudson Gardens began in 1941 when King and Evelyn Hudson purchased five acres of land on a two-lane dirt road off of S. Santa Fe Drive. This plot of land housed their home and restaurant, The Country Kitchen, which was a local favorite and great success.  The Hudsons increased their acreage until it became a lovely estate of almost forty acres.  Evelyn established the King C. Hudson and Evelyn Leigh Hudson Foundation in order that their land would become an asset to the community for generations to come.

A shot along the South Platte River.

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Some shots within the grounds of Hudson Gardens.

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Some interesting sculptures within the garden grounds.

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A great place to get out on a Sunday afternoon close to home!