August 25, 2012

Hike Review: Devils Punchbowl near Pearblossom, CA

Location: Angeles National Forest near Pearblossom, CA Distance: .3/1/7 miles (3 different hikes in the park)
Difficulty: moderate to easy
Elevation Change: 700 feet
Time of Year Best: Fall to Spring
Recommended MapsAngeles National Forest

August 20, 2012

Hike Review: Beaver Meadow and Moraine Park Loop

Location: Rocky Mountain National Park near Upper Beaver Meadows Picnic Area
Distance: 2.3 miles
Difficulty: very easy (kid friendly hike)
Elevation Change: 150 feet
Time of Year Best: Late Spring to early Fall
Recommended MapsRocky Mountain National Park  

Directions: From the Beaver Meadow Visitor Center, drive into the park, pass Bear Lake Road and take the next left to the Upper Beaver Meadows Trail-head and Picnic Area, but as soon as you do, park at the first and immediate dirt turn off on the left side of the road.  From here, you will see a trail heading southwest, follow this over the little hill and down to the Beaver Brook crossing.  Once you cross the Brook, you will hit a well maintained trial, you can start your loop heading either left or right.  With map in hand you should be able to find you loop trail.

Summary:  This loop hike doesn't really have a name.  I looked at my map and decided this looked good to get in an easy hike, with at least one stream crossing, for the kids.  For the newborn, it was his first real hike, but I think he slept the whole time, but whatever.  The hike was quick and flat.  There were great views of the surrounding mountains.  There was nothing spectacular about this hike, but it met all my objectives of being fun, fast, and friendly for the toddlers and the baby toting parents.

August 13, 2012

Hike Review: Cow Creek Trail-head to Bridal Veil Falls

Cow Creek's Bridal Veil Falls
Cow Creek Trail-head
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park; Cow Creek Trail-head near Estes Park
Distance: 6.4 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Change: 7,900 feet at trail-head to 8,800 (900 foot elevation gain, most in the last quarter mile)
Time of year best to hike: Late Spring to early Fall
Recommended Maps: Rocky Mountain National Park 

Mini-swim hole on Cow Creek
Cow Creek

Summary: The trail starts at the historic McGraw ranch.  It would be very easy to spend some extra time exploring the ponds and ranch area that greets you at the trail-head.  The walk follows a small valley for a little over a mile and turns north into a wooded canyon still following Cow Creek.  We hiked in early August.  Not a lot of water flowing, but we managed to find at least one decent pool to enjoy.  There are rolling hills, and a slight uphill grade to this hike, but the huge majority of the elevation gain in is the last quarter mile scramble up rock steps and rock slabs to the base of the 70 foot waterfall.

Above Bridal Veil Falls

At the top of Bridal Veil Falls

The Top of the Veil

McGraw Ranch at Cow Creek Trail-head

August 9, 2012

Hike Review: Cub Lake to Fern Lake Loop

Cub Lake
Cub Lake Trail-head
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park; Cub Lake Trail-head out at Fern Lake Trail-head in Moraine Park
Distance: 6 miles
Difficulty: Moderate
Elevation Change: 8,000 feet at trail-head to 8,700 (700 foot elevation gain)
Time of year best to hike: Late June to early October
Recommended Maps: Rocky Mountain National Park

Mother Deer and Fawn

Summary: This fairly easy trail starts heading south along the western edge of Moraine Park, but soon turns west and heads slightly up in elevation into a very tame and seldom rocky canyon.  The trail is very well worn.  I got a 6:30 AM start and was all alone; at later hours this can be a very busy path.  2.3 miles after meandering along meadows, aspen groves, beaver ponds, and Rocky Mountain splendor, the lily pond Cub Lake presents itself.

The Pool on the Big Thompson

I continued northwest past the lake to the Pool section of the Big Thompson River, another 1.0 mile beyond Cub Lake.  I like hiking loops.  At the pool, I change my direction to east on the Fern Lake trail and head 1.7 miles to the trail-head.  From here, I have a one mile walk back to the Cub Lake Trail-head on a dirt road overgrown and covered by noisy aspen.  Upon my exit, both Fern Lake and Cub Lake Trail-head parking lots were full.  It was Thursday, first week in August.

Highlights: herd of elk, otter, deer and her fawn, Cub Lake, roaring Big Thompson River, Arch Rocks, The Pool

Arch Rocks
Bridge Crossing - Big Thompson

Beaver Evidence
Big Thompson River

Exit - Fern Lake Trail-head

August 1, 2012

Hike Review: Longs Peak via the Keyhole Route

Longs Peak from the North
2:30 AM

 Longs Peak Sunrise Glow
5.9 Miles and a 3,500 foot climb: The Boulderfield
Above the Boulderfield:  The Keyhole

After the Keyhole: The Ledges

The Keyhole Hut
Looking up at the Trough
Looking down the Trough

The Trough is a half mile climb up a steep chute of stone, boulders, and loose rock.  First impression  is sheer awe.  Everything that everyone had told me and all the pictures that I had seen of the trough did not do it justice.  Go see for yourself.

At the top of the Trough

After the Trough: The Narrows

After the trough, the daunting narrows of Longs Peak. 
After the Narrows: The Homestretch

From the Top

Looking West from Longs Peak

Chasm Lake with Longs Peak in Background
Completed: 3 PM