Uncle Bud’s Hut

Back in September we spent a couple of nights up at one of the 10th Mountain Division Huts near Leadville. Uncle Bud’s Hut views from the south window-wall include a panorama of 14,421-foot Mount Massive and the bare pate of Bald Eagle Mountain. The hut was built as a memorial to 10th Mountain Division veteran Bud Winter (1925-1945), who was killed in action in Italy during World War II, and was one of 33 soldiers who completed the legendary “trooper traverse” winter ski crossing from Leadville to Aspen in February of 1944. Funds for the hut were given by Bud’s brother, Dr. Fred Winter. His sister Laura contributed the proceeds from her poetry book Laura’s Lines.

The hike in was a little over 5 miles with almost 1,700′ of elevation gain. Our route up to the hut starting near Turquoise Lake.

On the trail. There was a group of 14 of us that made the trek up to the hut.

As we climbed up the trail, the views opened up.

We passed several small ponds/lakes on the way up to the hut.

Arriving at the hut.

Time to relax, enjoy the sun and some afternoon snacks and cocktails!

We had some pretty phenomenal meals while at the hut. As there were 14 of us, we divided the meals up so everyone provided and cooked one of the meals. We had homemade pizzas cooked in the wood stove one night with salad followed by a warm and tasty fruit, pound cake, and chocolate dessert. The other night we had a delicious homemade chili. Breakfasts included egg, sausage and croissant sandwiches, pancakes, bacon and fresh fruit. We certainly did not go hungry on this trip!

We didn’t get pictures of all of the food, but here are a couple.

Fresh fruit, pound cake, and chocolate dessert
Breakfast croissant with green chili, sausage, and hash browns!

Sunset from the deck.

Once the sun set, it was time to start a fire and sit around and enjoy the evening and the company.

The sunrises from the hut were pretty phenomenal. So peaceful to watch the sun hitting the tips of the peaks with the beautiful alpenglow and see the rays of the sun slowly light up more of the peaks!

The view from the outhouse. Who doesn’t like an outhouse with a view!

On the second day some of us took a day hike up to Saint Kevin Lake. Saint Kevin Lake is a 3.50 mile roundtrip hike from the hut with about 532′ of elevation gain.

Heading up the trail to the lake.

Taking a break on some rocks along the trail.

Our first view of St. Kevin’s Lake.

St. Kevin’s Lake sits at the base of 12,800′ Galena Peak.

After the day hike to St. Kevin’s Lake, it was back to the hut for some more afternoon appetizers and cocktails.

The third day it was time to pack up and head back down from our beautiful couple of days in the mountains. What a great time to unwind and enjoy the beauty of the High Country in Colorado with great friends. Looking forward to the next adventure with this group!

St Mary’s Glacier

Trail Length: 3.79 miles (roundtrip)
Trailhead Elevation: 10,367’
Elevation Change:  +1,145, net elevation gain
Trailhead Location:  From I-70, exit #238 for St Mary’s – Alice – Fall River Road. From the exit ramp, turn north on CR 275 and drive 9.2 miles to the St Mary’s Glacier Trailhead on the left (west) side of the road. Roadside parking is restricted (see rules and regulations above). The trail begins on a wide, rocky forest road marked by a large white sign clearly visible from the road.

I always like to hike/snowshoe up to St. Mary’s Lake at least once a winter. It’s a beautiful area with great views. Last Sunday I made the hike and decided to go all the way to the top of the glacier above St. Mary’s Lake for views of James Peak and Mt. Bancroft. It was a beautiful bluebird sky day.

The hike up to St. Mary’s Lake is short – less than a mile. Arriving at the shore of St. Mary’s Lake. You can see the “glacier” on the right. It is not really a glacier but a permanent snowfield. It was quite calm at the lake. Many times it is quite windy up here.

Zooming in close, I could see some people up on the glacier.

After taking in the views at the lake, I headed around to the north side of the lake to begin hiking up the glacier. Looking back at the lake as I got to the base of the glacier.

A short distance up the glacier, I stopped to put on my snowshoes. The trail up to the lake was well packed and snowshoes were not needed. The snow was packed on the glacier but additional grip was needed. Looking back down on St. Mary’s Lake and the view off to the southeast.

I climbed further up the glacier.

It got windier the further I hiked up. It was cold and slow going but I was determined to get high enough on the ridge to see the view of the peaks to the west. I finally made it above the glacier and had views of Mt. Bancroft on the left (13,250′) and James Peak (13,300′) on the right.

Close up of Mt. Bancroft
Close up of James Peak

Looking back down the glacier.

After taking in the views, I started to head back down. Some other people heading up as I was heading down.

Back down at the lake I walked up to the west shore. Some interesting ice formations along the lakeshore.

I made my way back around the lake and headed on down the trail towards the trailhead. A look down the trail with the view to the southeast.

A cabin off in the woods just off the trail.

I made it back down to the trailhead. It was a beautiful day to get out into the High Country and enjoy the mountains. My route today.

On the drive back down from the trailhead towards the main highway, I stopped to take a picture of Mt. Eva (13,130′). I always love this view looking to the west of Mt. Eva, especially in the late afternoon light.

American-Snow Lakes

Round-Trip Length:  11.12 miles
Start Elevation:  9.864’
High Point:  11,520′
Elevation Change:  1,982’
Skill Level: Difficult
Trailhead Location: The American Lakes trailhead is located within State Forest State Park and the Never Summer Mountain Range. It is approximately 75 mile west of Fort Collins along Highway 14 on the west side of Cameron Pass. From the Crags entrance off of Highway 14, go 2 miles, staying left for the American Lakes trailhead. The parking area is a dirt plot at the end of the access road.

My son and I did this hike back in the early part of September. This hike had been on my bucket list for quite some time but until now, had never made the long drive from the Denver area to do it.

The two American Lakes are also known as Michigan Lakes. I tried to find out why the two different names but couldn’t really find any information on that. Google Maps has them named as Michigan Lakes but most of the write-ups online about this hike refer to them as the American Lakes and the trailhead is marked as the American Lakes trailhead.

The two American Lakes are located about 4.3 miles up from the trailhead. The first mile of the trail is an old, rocky one-lane road that leads up to the Michigan Ditch, one of many diversion structures in Colorado that transport water from the west to the east side of the Continental Divide to provide an adequate amount for the cities and farms on the plains.

Once it reaches the ditch, the trail narrows and continues to climb. It meanders through forests and past a few small meadows before eventually opening up into a large basin at just over 11.000 feet. The first of the American Lakes. It sits at an elevation of 11,220 feet.

American Lake with Static Peak (12,580′) to the left

Continuing on up the trail to the right of American Lakes. The two lakes are connected by a short stream. It almost looks like only one lake, but they are considered two separate lakes.

Both American Lakes connected by a small stream

On the far end of the second American Lake looking back with Lulu Mountain to the right.

We continued on up the trail towards Snow Lake. Beyond American Lakes is a 300 foot rocky headwall. We made our way up the steep trail to reach Snow Lake. Snow Lake sits at an elevation of 11,520 feet.

After taking in the views at Snow Lake, we headed on back down the trail to American Lakes. Once back at American Lakes, we decided to take a detour to the south and head up to Thunder Pass and the boundary between State Forest State Park and Rocky Mountain National Park.

Looking back towards American Lakes and the Nokhu Crags as we head up towards Thunder Pass.

Looking up towards Thunder Pass with Lulu Mountain to the left.

Looking south from the top of Thunder Pass into Rocky Mountain National Park.

Specimen Mountain (12,460′ left) and Mount Ida (12,880′ right)

Looking to the north from the top of Thunder Pass.

Heading back down Thunder Pass towards American Lakes.

We made our way back down the trail to the trailhead. Our route.

A couple of shots near the road as we were heading out. The aspens were starting to turn already.

It was definitely worth the drive from the Denver area up to State Forest State Park and this beautiful hike in the Never Summer Mountain Range!

Clear Creek Trail

Round-Trip Length:  7.25 miles
Start Elevation:  5,445’
High Point:  5,477′
Elevation Change:  209’
Skill Level: Easy
Trailhead Location:  The Youngfield Trailhead of the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt is the starting place for this hike.  To get there, take the Youngfield Street exit off of I-70 and head north on Youngfield.  Just before the street curves east, you’ll see the Trailhead and parking area on the right.

After our major snowstorm last week, we were looking for a trail to hike on that still wouldn’t be covered in snow, or in mud with all of the melting this past week. Several of the local open space parks nearby were actually closed because of muddy conditions. We decided on a section of the Clear Creek Trail in Wheat Ridge. Although an urban trail, this section of the trail in particular is quite nice, passing by 4 lakes and following Clear Creek through the trees. This section of the trail is part of the Wheat Ridge Greenbelt, a 300 acre open space.

The entire length of the trail is about 20 miles following Clear Creek and connecting Golden on the west with Commerce City on the east. We walked a 3.5 mile section (7 miles roundtrip) which is probably the most scenic section. The trail passes West, Bass, Prospect, and Tabor lakes.

We started our walk on the west side of West Lake.

A view from the east side of West Lake looking west.

Turning back again to the east, a view of Bass Lake.

We continued along the trail through the trees with views of Clear Creek.

A look back at Bass Lake.

We continued up to Anderson Park before turning around and heading back along the north side of Clear Creek.

Back towards the west side of the greenbelt we came to Prospect Lake.

And just a bit further to Tabor Lake.

There is an island in Tabor Lake that had a bunch of nesting double-crested cormorants.

We made our way back to the parking lot, glad to have gotten out to enjoy the day. More snow is on the way for tomorrow!

Gross Reservoir

Round-Trip Length:  3.36 miles
Start Elevation:  7,432’
Low Point:  7,290′
Elevation Change:  142’
Skill Level: Easy
Trailhead Location: From downtown Boulder take Boulder Canyon Drive west to the 9th Street intersection then turn south. Stay on 9th until you reach Chautauqua Park then take the hard right turn west. The road name changes to Baseline road briefly then changes again to Flagstaff Road. Remain on Flagstaff Road until you reach the Gross Reservoir parking lot.

At the end of January we decided to head up to Gross Reservoir near Boulder. Gross Reservoir is perched at 7,500 feet above sea level, located above Boulder along the South Boulder Creek Drainage. The cold-water reservoir has 440 acres of surface area, some that stretch out into isolated “fingers.” The lake itself gets deep (300 feet). Gross boasts 10 to 14 miles of shoreline. It was built in 1954. The reservoir is formed by an impressive, 340-foot-high concrete dam on the South Boulder Creek Drainage.

The water stored there is managed by Denver Water on the east side and the Roosevelt National Forest Boulder District on the west. The reservoir was named for former Denver Water chief engineer Dwight Gross and continues to supply water for Denver while regulating the runoff from the mountains to the west.

We stopped at the Gross Reservoir Scenic Viewpoint and walked the 0.1 of a mile up to the rock outcropping to get spectacular views of the reservoir as well as the Indian Peaks to the west. The water level of the reservoir was way down. We are in much need of rain/snow to fill it!

There is a beautiful view of the Indian Peaks to the west.

After taking in the spectacular views from the overlook, we headed to the the main parking area, parked, and headed out on the trail. We first headed up on a trail for a short distance to get a few more views and then turned around and headed back to the parking area and then headed on another trail down closer to the shoreline. We hiked along the north shore of the reservoir.

A view looking back towards the dam after we had hiked a distance.

Saw a few people walking out on the ice.

The map of our route today. We hiked up just beyond the boundary of the Roosevelt National Forest and then turned around and headed back.

Golden Gate Canyon State Park

Round-Trip Length:  6.82 miles
Start Elevation:  8,251’
High Point:  9,286′
Elevation Change:  1,035’
Skill Level: Moderate
Trailhead Location:  From Denver take I-70 west to 58 west to 93 north in Golden, CO.  Turn left (west) onto Golden Gate Canyon Road (following signs to the state park).  Follow GGC Road for approx. 14 miles and enter the park.  Turn right at the intersection next to the visitor center.  The 1st turnoff will be for Raven’s Roost but you should park at the second turnoff; Horseshoe Trailhead.

We took a hike in Golden Gate Canyon State Park back in January. It had been quite some time since we had hiked here and the route we took we had never done before. We did the Horseshoe/Mule Deer/Black Bear loop. Over a thousand feet of elevation gain but we did get up on a nice ridge with some great views. Most of the hike was through trees.

The 12,119-acre (49.04 km) Front Range park established in 1960 has 42 miles (68 km) of hiking trails. Horse and bicycle travel is allowed on 27 miles (43 km). Golden Gate Canyon has an interesting history. Back in the late 1800’s, the Homestead Act promised settlers 160 acres of frontier land if they would farm it for 5 years. Some of that land is now part of Golden Gate Canyon, including land previously owned by John Frazer, a former miner, for whom Frazer Meadow is named. His barn still stands in the park as do a handful of other old buildings from the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Golden Gate Canyon was designated in 1960 and became only the second state park in Colorado.

We started off on the Horseshoe Trail and hiked up 1.8 miles to the intersection with the Mule Deer trail.

We took the Mule Deer trail to the Black Bear trail. The trail climbed up quite a bit to a ridge with great views.

A view looking across to Mt. Evans. You can see the road heading up above tree line to the top.

A view of Grays and Torreys Peaks in the distance.

Heading back down from the ridge and continuing along the trail.

We continued on our loop and eventually ended back up at the trailhead. Our loop:

Sallie Barber Mine

Round-Trip Length:  3.22 miles
Start Elevation:  10,321’
High Point:  10,793′
Elevation Change:  483’
Skill Level: Easy
Trailhead Location: From Highway 9 in north Breckenridge, take Huron Road (CR 450) east for .4 miles and bear right onto Reiling Road. Take Reiling Road through the subdivision for .7 miles and turn left onto French Gulch Road. Take French Gulch Road for 2.6 miles to the clearly marked French Gulch Road Trailhead and parking area on your right.

A couple of weeks ago we spent the weekend up in Summit County. It was great to get up into the high country and enjoy the mountains. We were looking for a fairly easy hike and something that wouldn’t require snowshoes. We decided on Sallie Barber Mine. The hike follows the Sallie Barber road, closed to vehicular traffic.

It was a beautiful, bluebird sky day! We parked and started up the trail.

Loved the fresh snow flocked on the trees!

A view towards the Breckenridge ski area.

There were several side trails off of the main trail that could be explored. Below is one of them.

We continued on up towards the mine. After a little over 1 1/2 miles we arrived at the top and the mine.

 The 365-foot-deep mine was established in 1880 by a group of Bald Mountain miners. It was a long-time producer of rich zinc ore and operated until 1909. The Sallie Barber mine reportedly grossed $1,000 in 1899 from gold, lead, silver and zinc. It officially closed in 1911 due to transportation issues on the mountain, but briefly reopened during World War I to extract zinc.

We had great views from the mine.

After exploring around the mine area and taking in the views, we headed back down. Some great views on the way down as well through the trees.

The snow was packed on the trail, but quite deep if you were to step off.

Our route:

Timberline Lake

Round-Trip Length:  6.62 miles
Start Elevation:  10,052’
High Point:  10,946′
Elevation Change:  906’
Skill Level: Moderate
Trailhead Location: From Leadville, follow signs to Turquoise Lake. The trailhead is at the western end of Turquoise Lake, just northwest of the May Queen Campground.

We were able to add another new hike to our list last week. Always looking for something new, we headed off towards Leadville, Colorado and Timberline Lake. This hike was relatively short and quite scenic. We left home early and got started on the trail a little before 8:00am.

The first short section of the trail started off on the Colorado trail and then quickly we branched off onto the Timberline Lake trail.

The Timberline Lake Trail soon heads up along Lake Fork Creek at a well-marked intersection. Some interesting steel beams before entering the Holy Cross Wilderness.

The trail essentially follows the creek the entire way up to Timberline Lake. The first 1.5 miles generally climbs at a gentle grade, with the trail steepening considerably after this point. A marshy section and creek crossing occurs at around 1.3 miles. Arriving at the lake, it was very calm providing for some wonderful reflection shots.

We continued hiking counter-clockwise around the lake, stopping periodically for more pictures of the lake.

On the far end of the lake, we stopped for a break. Looking across the lake to the east.

A couple of reflection shots of the lake inlet on the west end.

After circumnavigating the lake, we headed back down the trail.

Our trail route.

Missouri Pass-Fancy Pass Loop

Round-Trip Length:  12-mile loop
Start Elevation:  10,042’
High Point:  12,443’
Elevation Change:  2.660’
Skill Level: Moderate-Strenuous
Trailhead Location:  The Missouri Lakes – Fancy Creek Trailhead is located on Missouri Creek Road, 9.8 miles west of Highway 24.  From I-70, take Exit 171 (just west of West Vail) and follow Highway 24 south for 12.4 miles to Homestake Road (right turn). Anticipate this turn, as it comes quickly on a bend in the road.  Take Homestake Road 7.6 miles to Missouri Creek Road – turn right. Follow this road 2.2 miles to the parking area for each trailhead. The trailheads are located several dozen yards apart in the same parking lot (Missouri is to the left, Fancy to the right).

I was looking for a little more challenging hike to do with my son and something new.  I’m constantly reading up on different hikes around the state and adding them to my hike spreadsheet of hikes to do.  I came across these lakes (Missouri Lakes and Fancy Lake) and remembered that I had done these years ago.  Actually in a hiking book I have of the area, I had notated that I had done these back in 1997.  Since that was 23 years ago, I remember nothing about the hikes from back then!  The Holy Cross Wilderness is a beautiful area but I haven’t done a lot of hiking here, or at least in recent years.

We headed out from the Denver area around 5:30am for the 2 1/2 hour drive up to the trailhead.  It was a beautiful day and there was no chance of rain or afternoon thunderstorms in the forecast.  We had initially decided to do an out-and-back hike to Missouri Lakes.  We also knew we had the option of doing the loop and agreed we would decide once we got up to Missouri Lakes and assess how we felt and what the weather looked like.  In the end we did decide to do the loop and we were glad we did.

Starting out at the Missouri Lakes trailhead.

P1730647 (2)

A short distance up the trail, we came to a beautiful waterfall.



Entering Holy Cross Wilderness

P1730654 (2)


The trail follows Missouri Creek.

P1730660 (2)

P1730671 (2)

About 2.1 miles up the trail we came to a big avalanche debris area.  The avalanche here occurred in the winter/spring of 2018/2019.  We had read about this before starting our hike.  As many had suggested, we followed a new trail that is forming up the north hillside to get across the avalanche debris field.  Some had attempted to follow the original trail straight through the debris.  This would be a mistake as the field is almost a half-mile long and would be very difficult to get through.  After crossing the debris field, you join back up with the main trail.




Wildflowers in the avalanche debris field.


We continued hiking up the trail.


After 3.15 miles, we arrived at Lower Missouri Lake (11,410′).



IMG_7822 (2)

After a brief break at Lower Missouri Lake, we continued on up to Upper Missouri Lake.  A look at Lower Missouri Lake as we passed by it.

IMG_7821 (2)

More wildflowers as we made our way to Upper Missouri Lake.

P1730682 (2)

After 3.5 miles from the trailhead, we arrived at Upper Missouri Lake (11,502′).



P1730687 (2)

Straight ahead and to the left is Missouri Pass.


We followed the left shoreline of the lake.  Looking back on Upper Missouri Lake as we continued on.


We passed a large tarn on our left at 3.85 miles (11,535′) as we continued on up towards Missouri Pass.


Looking back on Upper Missouri Lake as we continued our climb up Missouri Pass.


Some beautiful Indian Paintbrush along the trail.


As we climbed higher, we continued to look back down the valley in the direction we had come from.



The trail skirted a small patch of snow still lingering on the pass.


We arrived at the top of Missouri Pass which is 4.35 miles from the trailhead (11,986′). The views from the pass were stunning!  Looking down on Treasure Vault Lake.


IMG_7825 (2)

IMG_7827 (2)


After taking in the sweeping views, we started down Missouri Pass through high alpine meadows.  The wildflowers were spectacular!



Treasure Vault Lake is an easy .4 mile roundtrip excursion off of the main trail.  We didn’t hike to the lake’s shore but just took in the views from the main trail.




We came to the Cross Creek Trail – Fancy Creek Trail junction at 4.7 miles (11,802′).  We continued on towards Fancy Pass.

P1730722 (2)

Looking back down across the meadow as we headed up towards Fancy Pass.


Looking ahead towards Fancy Pass.


Looking back into the valley as we continued up towards Fancy Pass.  You can see Treasure Vault Lake, a few other tarns, and Blodgett Lake clear off in the distance to the right.


A zoomed in view of Blodgett Lake.


We began the steep but short climb up Fancy Pass over talus to arrive on top at 5.45 miles from our start (12,390′). Spectacular views to the west.

IMG_7828 (2)


And spectacular views to the east and the steep downhill on the other side of Fancy Pass.


After taking in the views, we started down Fancy Pass.  Looking back up the steep descent we had come down and through some snow.


Another small snow patch we had to cross heading down.

P1730737 (2)

P1730738 (2)

The trail drops sharply through a rocky chute that gradually moderates to the edge of treeline with great views over Fancy Lake.


We arrived at Fancy Lake (11,540′) and took another short break.

IMG_7833 (2)

Upon leaving Fancy Lake, we had a little difficulty locating the trail down to the Fancy Lake trailhead.  We started down what we thought was the trail, but it actually ended up being the trail to Mulhall Lakes and Holy Cross City.  After hiking only a very short distance up this trail, we asked another hiker who was heading up the trail if we were going in the right direction.  He told us no and pointed us back to Fancy Lake where we had come from.  We headed down the drainage from the lake on a small social trail and soon found the main trail.  This is not very well marked so we were glad we asked.

Looking down the drainage.


The trail continues steeply from Fancy Lake on tightly wound corkscrews into a thick forest.  We continued on, tired at this point, back to the Fancy Lake Trailhead and car.

P1730749 (2)

A map of our complete route hiking clockwise.

Missouri-Fancy Pass

This was a spectacular loop hike with awesome scenery!  We were so glad we did the entire loop even though we were pretty tired by the time we finished.


Cub Lake

Round-Trip Length:  6.2 miles
Start Elevation:  8,096’
High Point:  8,753’
Elevation Change:  737’
Skill Level:  Easy
Trailhead Location: From the Beaver Meadows Entrance Station of Rocky Mountain National Park, travel .1 mile west to Bear Lake Road and make a left. Follow Bear Lake Road 1.2 miles to Moraine Park Road and turn right (look for signs for Moraine Park Campground). This road follows the north side of Moraine Park for a half-mile to another junction. At this junction, turn left (south) toward the Fern Lake and Cub Lake Trailheads. Cub Lake Trailhead is about 1.2 miles from this point. Spaces are limited.

Cub Lake is a fairly easy trail and is not near as popular as the trails that leave from the Bear Lake parking area so on busy days in Rocky Mountain National Park (which is every day), unless you get into the park at sunrise, you have a very slim chance of getting a parking spot at Bear Lake.  We weren’t arriving at the park until noon, so we opted for the Cub Lake trail.  We were fortunate to get a parking spot here. We headed down the trail.  A view looking up the meadow.

P1730178 (2)

A group of birds hanging out on a tree branch.

P1730184 (2)

P1730185 (2)

There were many wildflowers as we continued through the meadow.

P1730189 (2)


P1730193 (2)

P1730194 (2)


IMG_7642 (2)

We continued on up the trail.  It steepened some as we got nearer to the lake.

P1730192 (2)

Arriving at the lake.  A good share of the lake is covered by lily pads.  You can see the burn area from the fire that happened in this area in October 2012.  The wildfire burned 3500 acres in the Cub Lake, lower Forest Canyon and Moraine Park areas, making it the largest wildfire in Rocky Mountain National Park history. It’s believed the fire was sparked by an illegal campfire on October 9th. Although it was a low intensity fire, and for the most part remained under control, it still forced the closure of almost all the trails in the Moraine Park and Bear Lake Road areas for several weeks. That all changed on November 30th when a fierce wind storm brought 70 mph gusts that pushed the fire three miles in only 35 minutes, and more than doubled its size as it raced across Moraine Park. At its peak more than 600 fire fighters were assigned to the blaze. The fire was all but fully extinguished when heavy snow arrived in mid-December.


Looking due west from the lake is 12,922-foot Stones Peak.

P1730206 (2)

IMG_7648 (1)

Found a few of the water lilies in bloom.


P1730201 (2)

P1730202 (2)

Heading back down the trail.

P1730218 (2)

A few more flowers along the trail.

IMG_7645 (2)

IMG_7646 (2)

Cub Lake Map