Fall Colors in Colorado: My Favorite Places

I’ve always been a person that loves everything about Fall; the colors, the weather, the hikes, and everything in-between (and also the boots, scarves, and pumpkin spiced lattes of course). My birthday also just happens to be at the end of September, so it’s the perfect excuse to celebrate and go leafing!

We went on a fabulous trip last year, the high point being the chairlift in Crested Butte, where I saw some of the largest aspen groves I’ve ever seen. This year, we also went on a trip – to the Telluride, Ridgway, Silverton, and Ouray; as we have heard great things about the fall colors Southwest Colorado. It may be quite a drive from Denver…but it was more than worth it. The colors were like something out of one of the best dreams.

With those two trips under my belt, and countless other small trips near Denver to view colors, I’ve compiled a list of my favorite places to go and leaf.

This list isn’t in order of my favorites, because it would be way too difficult to decide. Instead, I have tried to list them in order of drive time from Denver. However, please remember that the drive times may vary depending on which side of the mountain passes you start, and are dependent on traffic of course.

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Boreas Pass (Photo Credit: Bill Chopp)

  1. Boreas Pass

Drive time from Denver: about 2 hours

This is one of the more popular locations to view fall colors, and for good reason. It’s filled with amazing views of Breckenridge at the beginning and aspens nearly the whole drive. I would get an early start on this one, it will get busy really early. If you want to avoid the I70 traffic on the way home and are just doing a day trip, I recommend starting on the Breckenridge side and taking highway 285 back to Denver. There’s also several dispersed camping areas along the pass, just make sure to bring extra blankets since it’s at a very high elevation, and speaking from experience…it gets very cold at night!

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Boreas Pass

2. Weston Pass

Drive time from Denver: 2 hours 15 minutes

I have a soft spot for this drive because not only is it exceptionally gorgeous – it is nowhere near as crowded. It also might have helped that we did this on a Friday afternoon as opposed to a weekend, but it was one of those drives that sticks with you forever as a favorite. There were only a few spots along this pass where having a four-wheel drive car was nice, but I would at least recommend an SUV for this drive. Weston Pass may take a little longer than the others in the area, but it is worth the detour.

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Weston Pass

3. Aspen

Drive time from Denver: 3 hours 30 minutes

I can’t forget about a little place called Aspen. Probably the most photographed location in all of Colorado is located here: Maroon Bells. The most popular time to photograph the bells is at sunrise – in fact if you want a spot on Maroon Lake to catch the sunrise glow, odds are you should get there by 4am. However, we went to Maroon Bells at sunset and waited in line for a half hour, so I would be prepared for crowds either way.

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Maroon Bells

The most beautiful way to get to Aspen in the fall in my opinion, is by taking Independence Pass. It starts below treeline, following aspen groves, then takes you above treeline, crosses the Continental Divide, and returns to aspens before entering the town of Aspen. Along the way there are several spots to take pictures, hike, and camp. This road is extremely popular so if you do expect to camp here, arriving early is best, or making reservations is better!

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Independence Pass

4. Crested Butte

Drive time from Denver: 4 hours 15 minutes

Last year for my birthday we went to Crested Butte for the first time. On the we took Kebler Pass, which is home to some of the largest aspen groves in the United States. It absolutely lived up to the hype – especially getting there about a day after peak (we were there September 25, for reference). This gravel road is filled with huge aspen groves, big mountain views, and we even got to see ranchers herding their sheep.

When we arrived to Crested Butte we checked into the hotel and they let us know that with our reservation we received free passes for the chairlift. Normally in the summer and fall the mountains that have the chair lifts going are for mountain bikers…but we had a different idea in mind (although mountain biking there would be awesome). We wanted to take the chairlift to see all the fall colors, and boy, was it worth it. The views were unparalleled to anything I’ve seen at the top of any mountain (but taking the chairlift to the top to ski down is a close second).

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Crested Butte

5. Telluride area

Drive time from Denver: 6 hours

This year as I said, we went to the Telluride area for my birthday. We camped at Ridgway State Park to be centrally located between Telluride and Silverton/Ouray, which worked out really well. We started out with a snowy day on the Million Dollar Highway, and while it was cold; seeing two seasons collide was beautiful, and like nothing I have ever seen before. In talking to some locals, it sounds like it’s not uncommon for this to happen; but that didn’t make it any less special. The Million Dollar Highway, between Silverton and Ouray, provided heart-stopping views, and not just because of the colors! This road is known for one of the more dangerous highways with its thousand foot drops and lack of guard rails, so prepare yourself if you are scared of heights.

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Million Dollar Highway (Photo Credit: Bill Chopp)

On the way to Telluride we explored Woods Lake, which ended up to be my second favorite spot on the whole trip. The drive to the lake was complete with aspens in their peak the entire way. Woods Lake isn’t huge, but on a clear day you can see the mountains in the background and the colors seemed to go on forever.

In the town of Telluride, the fall colors were just as gorgeous. Telluride is home to the only gondola in the United States that connects the town and the mountain village, and better yet, it’s free to travel between the two. At the top of the gondola there are several trails that provide you with 360 degree views of the San Juan Mountains, the largest range in Colorado by area.

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Woods Lake (Photo Credit: Bill Chopp)

When we left Ridgway State Park to go home, we decided to take Owl Creek Pass instead of the highway. It added about 45 minutes, but it was the best end to an already beautiful trip. Owl Creek Pass has beautiful views complete with fall colors and the jagged peaks of Cimarron Ridge. As we were coming up on the turn to Silver Jack Reservoir, we stopped to take a picture of the views, and out of nowhere a few minutes later, a huge bull moose came out of the brush. We talked to someone who was working for the forest service and he said he only saw a moose here one other time this year, and one time last year. Both of us stayed a safe distance from the moose, he could tell we were around and he was definitely not happy about it…but man were we happy about it!

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Owl Creek Pass

The colors in Colorado are my absolute favorite, and if you play your cards right you can have fall colors in your life for nearly a month or more while exploring this beautiful state…at least that’s what I try to do. If you need any advice planning your next Colorado fall adventure please let me know, I would be more than happy to help!

Journey to Forest Lake

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I’ve done a lot of hikes since I’ve moved to Denver, but by far the best hikes are those that are tough, have great views, and give you a glimpse into the history of the area. The trail to  Forest Lake had all of those things, and quickly became one of my favorites (I probably say that about all of the hikes I do…but they are all really wonderful). The trailhead for Forest Lake is at a location known as the Moffat Tunnel.  First of all, it had the biggest parking lot I’d ever seen for a trailhead, so it’s hard for me to believe that you can’t get a spot if you get at the trailhead later in the day – we got there at 10:00am and there were plenty of spaces.

The Moffat tunnel on the East side is the trailhead for our hike – if you were to view the tunnel from the West side it would be near Winter Park, Colorado. The idea for the tunnel began around 1902 with David Moffat and the Denver, Pacific, and Northwestern Pacific Railroad. The original idea for the tunnel was for it to go over what is now known as Rollins  Pass, but the harsh winter conditions made snow removal impossible – thus the idea for the tunnel. There was quite a bit of controversy after Moffat died in 1911 as to how to finish (or if they would finish) the tunnel – it’s definitely worth researching if it’s something you are interested in. Eventually the tunnel was completed and the first train went through in 1928. Today it is the 3rd longest tunnel in the country, and also one of the 30 tunnels you will travel through if you take the Amtrak from Denver to Winter Park.

Trail Stats

  1. Starting Elevation: 9,211 feet
  2. Ending Elevation: 10,664 feet
  3. Net Elevation Gain: 1,453 feet
  4. Round Trip Length: 6.8 miles
  5. Trailhead: Moffatt Tunnel near Rollinsville, CO
  6. GPS Coordinates: N39 54.181 W105 38.660
  7. Drive time from Denver: 1.5 hours with no traffic
  8. Fee: None
  9. Dogs allowed?: Yes

After we parked and read a little bit about the tunnel – we got going on the trail. I would highly recommend having a map with you, because I was little confused at the beginning about where to go. There isn’t a clear map at the trailhead and  I hadn’t really researched the first trail we would be on before intersecting with the Forest Lake trail. Anyways, when you first start the trailhead is to the right of the Moffat Tunnel – the South Boulder Creek Trail. It’s 1.3 miles of meadows, forests, and more meadows with a steady climb of about 350 feet; the perfect warm up to a more aggressive climb.

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Meadow views

We turned right to continue to Forest Lake at the trailhead split – staying straight takes you to Crater Lakes, which is where I suspect most of the crowds were, but our trail was very peaceful with few people. Shortly after the split we crossed a bridge to go over Arapahoe creek, and braced ourself for the steep 2.1 mile climb to the lake.

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Photo Credit: Bill Chopp

Most of the remainder of the trail was shaded by thick trees, with the occasional breaks like the one pictured above. The information and reviews about the hike that I read said that at 2.4 mile marker there will be a split for Arapahoe Lakes, where you turn north to continue to Forest Lake, or straight for Arapahoe Lake. However, it’s worth pointing out that I didn’t see that sign when we did the hike – the path looked like it was blocked with trees, perhaps by the Forest Service.

There were also several reviews about how the end of the trail is hard to follow – but the path is well-marked so if you pay attention and take your time you’ll be fine. The trail finally flattened out after we gained about 1,100 feet, and then the lake was in sight! It is quite deceiving, as we had to walk around the left side of the lake to stay on the trail and walk around a meadow to get to the lake.

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Final approach to Forest Lake (Pictured: Bill Chopp)

If you do this trail, I have to stress that it is important to stay on the trail and not cut across to the lake skipping the meadow before the lake. Areas at this high of elevation are damaged so easily and it could take years for the area to be back to normal if people keep walking off the trail  – as it was quite obvious it happens often. The lake is relatively small in size, but it’s still just as beautiful as any large lake.

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Forest Lake (Photo Credit: Bill Chopp)

There is another lake if you continue on the trail, but we decided to save that for next time. Part of the joy in going to beautiful places like this is leaving at least one thing unseen – then you have a reason to go back. Although I have to admit when we go back we probably won’t hike to it (even though I did love the hike).

We ran into a group on the way back down who let us in on a secret that if you drive to the top of Rollins Pass, you can hike 1/2 mile down on a trail and get to Upper Forest Lake. Don’t get me wrong – I think there is nothing better than exploring places of the world with your own 2 feet; but I will never say no to a new area to go off-roading.

Until the next adventure…

 

 

 

Fancy Lake Hike

Most of the time when I read about a hike, I have to do it. I add it to a list in my phone, and know that one day (even if it’s a year from now), I’ll do it. To make it on my list, there isn’t a lot of criteria I have – mostly I just want it to be pretty, which I mean, aren’t 99% of hikes pretty anyways? I don’t care how long it is, how short it is, or where it is – if it looks pretty, it probably made the cut.

About six months ago I added a hike called Fancy Lake to my list. The only thing I knew about it was a photo I saw on Instagram – that of course made it look absolutely beautiful. After I saw that I knew one day I would need to see it for myself. So last week, myself and a friend (and her adorable puppy) headed West at 6am to see the beauty of Fancy Lake for ourselves.

Trail Stats

  1. Starting Elevation: 10,017 feet
  2. Ending Elevation: 11,551 feet
  3. Net Elevation Gain (because of ups and downs): 1,534 feet
  4. Round Trip Length: 6.4 miles
  5. Trailhead: Fancy Lake Trailhead, GPS Coordinates: N39 23.445 W106 28.237
  6. Drive time from Denver: 2.5 hours with no traffic
  7. Fee: None
  8. Dogs allowed?: Yes
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Photo Credit: Jessica Christie

The trail begins with gradual switchbacks up a forested slope, and doesn’t waste any time gaining elevation, and by the time you get to the bridge (pictured above), you will have hiked only 0.85 miles and gained about 440 feet in elevation. Here the water was SO clean and clear I filled up my water bottle right there. However I did have the perk of having a LifeStraw water bottle which I recommend (link: here). Having this water bottle has honestly made it much easier to do longer hikes (where there’s water), because I can just fill it up and there’s a water filter that doubles as my straw; I no longer have to worry about the water weight in my pack.

After we crossed the bridge the trail continues to rise steadily for the next 2.2 miles, mostly in a thick wooded forest. As the climb continues we saw occasional breaks on the left side after about a mile or so – they are definitely worth exploring – you’ll see a huge rocky canyon with a creek below. We couldn’t see a safe way down to the bottom however, so we observed from afar.

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Once we reached the 3.0 mile mark we knew we had to be close, but it didn’t seem like any path we took could get us to a lake in the 0.2 miles we had left. I would take a break before you start the last stretch of the trail as it will gain about 400 feet up some steep rocky switchbacks.

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View from climbing the rocky switchbacks

As soon as we got to the top we had to sit…but I would recommend that you don’t rest!  Just keep walking, because Fancy Lake is maybe 100 feet away after you get to the top of the rocky switchbacks, and it is worth the exhausted walk there!

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Jessica Christie featuring Fancy Lake

We went on a Friday, and were lucky enough to be the only ones at the lake for the whole time we were there, so I can’t speak to how busy it gets on the weekends – but it’s worth it. After exploring around and hearing marmots squeals and echoes for a while, having a snack, and contemplating how we could build a house and just stay here forever; we decided to head back.

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Photo Credit: Jessica Christie

It seems silly, that I saved a hike because I saw a picture on social media. But with so many people posting all these beautiful places, I feel like it’s only natural to want to go to them. I feel so lucky that I am living a state that allows me to adventure to beautiful places like this (regardless of how they were found) and I can’t wait to cross the next hike off my list.

My Top Five Easy Colorado Hikes (so far)

It’s no secret that Colorado is a great place to live or to visit. The opportunity to explore this beautiful state is something I have never taken for granted, not for a second. Every weekend the conversation usually isn’t “should we go hiking” it’s “where should we go hiking.”

It can be overwhelming to try to plan things in a state that has so many opportunities for beauty, whether you are living here or planning a trip. Some of the best adventures can be found within just a few hours of Denver, and I’ve decided to compile a list of some of my favorite easy hikes.

1. Emerald Lake, Rocky Mountain National Park

This is my absolute favorite short hike close to Denver. Alpine lakes are something of a wonder to me, and you get to see four of them on this hike. Just under 4 miles round trip and 652 feet of elevation gain will get you to Bear Lake, Nymph Lake, Dream Lake, and finally – Emerald Lake. Each lake is more beautiful than the last, and the gradual elevation gain makes for a very enjoyable, not exhausting hike. Bear Lake trailhead, the starting point for the hike, is about two hours from Denver. I would recommend getting to this trailhead early in the day or late in the afternoon to avoid some of the crowds as this is one of the most popular areas in the park.

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2. Lake Isabelle, Indian Peaks Wilderness

This lovely lake is about an hour and a half from Denver. It’s in the popular Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, so getting here early is important. For reference, we got to the trailhead just after 7:00am and we had to park at Brainard Lake and walk to the trailhead. Although, if you have to do that it’s not the worst thing – you get to walk around a beautiful lake and have prime moose viewing opportunities, so keep your eyes peeled! This hike is 4.5 miles total and 630 feet of elevation gain, so it’s a great opportunity to take your time, take in the views, and see the beauty the Indian Peaks Wilderness has to offer.

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Lake Isabelle

3. Hagerman Pass, near Turquoise Lake 

For those willing to drive just a little bit farther (approximately 2.5 hours from Denver), and love the joy of being one of the few on the trail, I highly recommend Hagerman Pass. The details are in a previous blog, but this hike was so wonderful it’s worth mentioning twice. For me, this hike has everything you would want on a Colorado hike: alpine lakes, mountain views, ghost towns, and wildflowers. At 5.5 miles round trip, this hike will take you a little longer than the previous mentioned, but the gradual elevation gain of 590 feet makes it a relatively easy hike. The only reason it will take you a little longer is because of the views; they are more than worth taking your time.

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Opal Lake, Hagerman Pass Trail

4. Crater Lake, Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness

Most people visiting Denver probably don’t want to drive 3.5 hours to get to Maroon Bells – but once you’re there, you’ll see why so many make the trek. This is quite possibly one of the most photographed areas of Colorado, and for good reason. It’s absolutely beautiful at every season – although it’s worth noting that in the winter the only way to access this area is by hiking or snowmobiling, so be sure to check the road closures if you are coming in the Spring or Fall. Crater Lake is perhaps the most popular short hike at Maroon Bells; it’s 3.4 miles total (with 630 feet of elevation gain). If you can be an early riser, I recommend arriving well before sunrise to photograph the magical glow and reflection with Maroon Bells and Maroon Lake.

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Crater Lake, Maroon Bells – Snowmass Wilderness

5. Mayflower Gulch Trail

Lastly, for those that want an easy hike, but a little bit more of an elevation gain, this is the trail for you. It’s about 6.5 miles beyond Copper Mountain (about an 1.6 hours from Denver),  but parking has never been an issue when I’ve hiked here, so just watch the weather for afternoon storms as you’re planning. I have to admit, the hike doesn’t have anything super interesting (besides amazing views) until you get to your destination at 3.1 miles, after 1550 feet of elevation gain. The trail leads you to an old ghost town, the Boston Mine, where you can explore the remains of the cabins of the people who used to live there in the early 1900s.  I recommend doing your research before this hike, as there can be snow well into June or July and it’s important to make sure you have the right traction devices.

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Mayflower Gulch Trail

Hiking to Timber Lake

I am a destination hiker. I love the feeling of reaching the top of a peak, a lake, a waterfall, or anything else one might consider a destination. So, this weekend we planned to hike to Lake Haiyaha, at the ever popular Bear Lake Trailhead, in Rocky Mountain National Park. We made the rookie mistake of getting there at 10am, when we probably should have gotten there by 7am or much later at 4pm to get a spot and avoid the crowds.

Anyways…I have been wanting to explore the trails on the West side of Rocky Mountain National Park for quite some time, and when we couldn’t find a spot at Bear Lake, Timber Lake came to my mind. For those who haven’t been, or those who haven’t spent much time in the park – the West side is magical. There aren’t as many people, the trails are just as beautiful, and you will almost always see wildlife.

I’m a firm believer that things always happen for a reason. If something doesn’t work out – it’s because something better is in the works. It didn’t seem like we were meant to go to Lake Haiyaha, the parking was crazy everywhere. Plus, who really wants to try to fight through the crowds when the options for alpine lakes are limitless in Rocky Mountain Park? So we made our way over Trail Ridge Road, the highest continuous paved road in the United States, and had the luxury of seeing views like the one below the entire drive.

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Hike Stats for Timber Lake:

  1. Starting Elevation: 9,000 feet
  2. Elevation Gain: about 2,000 feet
  3. Round trip length: 11 miles
  4. Trailhead: Timber Lake Trailhead, 10 miles from the Kawuneeche Visitor Center (GPS Coordinates to trailhead: 40.399722, -105.847361)
  5. Time: 4 hours to lake (taking our time), 1 hour at the lake, 2 hours back

The hike began through the trees, and it was absolutely beautiful. The shade was a nice perk as well, especially since it was a sunny 80ºF day. Shortly after we started, the uphill climb began. We took a longer break at the about the 1.5 mile marker where you reach nice plateau with rocks for relaxing – trust me you’ll need it after climbing about 700 feet! When we continued on the hike, we were shortly rewarded with some openings in the trees and views like the one below.

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At roughly the 2.5 mile marker (though the trailhead signs say it’s at 2…I wasn’t convinced), you’ll see the aftermath of a huge landslide from 2012. We ran into a couple of hikers and they said it’s a lot worse than a couple of years ago – now I wasn’t here then, but I can say that it was very difficult to try to figure out. They have a pink/orange ribbon and a sign that says the trail turns up to go above the landslide. However, we didn’t see that on the way there, so make sure you look for it (the sign was on the ground and it was hard to tell). We spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out the best way to get around it, and just when I was ready to call it a day my boyfriend found an area that looked passable below the landslide. Kudos to him, it worked out perfectly – we went to the bottom at the end of the landslide, hopped across a couple of creeks, and went the steep grade back up the trail. I highly recommend taking the route we took through the bush wack down and around instead of the seemingly straight up and down alternative that was marked.

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The landslide – when we thought we could try to go through it (mistake).

 

Once we made it past the landslide, the trail continued to climb gently to Timber Creek. After about 1 mile we reached the Timber Creek Junction – I recommend taking another brief break before you turn left and begin the next ascent to Timber Lake (if you turn to the right here you’ll go to Long Meadows). The trail climbs pretty steeply here, gaining about 800 feet of elevation in 1 mile through some rocky switchbacks.

Follwing the 800ft climb, the trail opens up into a pretty meadow, and we started to see a variety of signs for backcountry campsites. When you reach the first Jackstraw campsite you are roughly 0.8 miles to Timber Lake. The views from the meadows were just enough to keep me going for that last stretch, because I was fairly exhausted at this point; I mean we did gain 1,800 feet of elevation so far.

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After we crossed the meadow there was another small section of switchbacks to complete gaining another 200 feet – and then we made it!

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First view of Timber Lake

As soon as I thought the views couldn’t get any better…we continued to walk around and saw not one, but two more small lakes. We walked around the right side of the lake when we arrived, and took the left side back. I recommend just walking on the right side, as there’s quite a bit of rock scrambling and it’s muddier on the left side (depending on the season). We were taking pictures of the second lake and relaxing, when I saw something that looked like antlers. I zoomed my camera in, and it was a MOOSE! Before this hike, I had never seen a bull moose with a rack; but it was definitely worth the wait. We were taking pictures and then all the sudden not one, but two bull moose started walking toward the trees. They clearly sensed our presence (and probably heard my squeal of excitement), because they stared at us for a few minutes.

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The feeling of completing the hike to Timber Lake was incomparable. Since I was little I never thought I would be the girl who climbed mountains; I only thought I would someday see them and marvel at them. But two years ago I moved to Colorado, and now I had literally climbed up a mountain, farther into the backcountry of Rocky Mountain National Park than I’ve ever gone.

Remember what I said at the beginning of the hike? How everything happens for a reason? If we would have done Lake Haiyaha and not Timber Lake, we would not have seen our first  two bull moose in the most majestic way I could ever expect to see them. I have been impatiently waiting for two years to see one, and we got to see two! I also would have never accomplished the great feat of climbing 2,000 feet up a mountain. Rocky Mountain National Park…you never cease to amaze me.

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Timber Lake

 

 

What to Bring Hiking: for the girl who packs everything

I have no shame in saying I am a girly girl. I like to do my hair, my nails, and my make-up, even if I’m going hiking. I mean, pictures, right?

So what does the girly girl who always needs everything, really need to bring hiking? This was where I really struggled because I wanted to look cute, and hike. Additionally, in Colorado you need to be prepared for any weather. In the spring you could see rain, snow, and sunshine all in one hike.

I’ve put together some basics that I keep in my daypack bag pictured below:

Let me also just add a side note – a daypack CAN be functional and stylish, like this one from Woolrich that was done in collaboration with Topo designs. It’s easily my favorite bag so far for normal day hikes.

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Anyways…back to the list:

  1. 2 water bottles that hold at least 24 oz of water (or more for a longer hike)
  2. Your camera/phone to take pictures, because you’ll want to remember it all.
  3. 1 light jacket with a hood
  4. 1 hat (winter or baseball cap depending on the season)
  5. 1 set of spikes if you are hiking in spring snowmelt season or winter.  I bought these: REI STABILicers and honestly, they make a world of difference! (My boyfriend bought these: REI Kahtoola MICROspikes which are also really good, just little bit more expensive)
  6. SNACKS! Don’t underestimate the length of the hike you are planning. Even with just a 4 mile hike I will usually make sure a few granola bars or trail mix are in my bag.
  7. 1 extra pair of socks. This might seem silly, but if your feet are hurting, or you get a blister and it pops, having an extra pair of socks will be your lifesaver.
  8. 1 first aid kit. You can buy these at a store, or you can make your own with band-aids, gauze, disinfectant, etc that you have at home. You will thank me when you need it (or when you get to make someone’s day by having a band-aid because someone else forgot to bring one and needed it).
  9. A map of your hike if you are able to get one, so you aren’t questioning which way to turn when some of the trails aren’t clearly marked.
  10. Finally…wear a comfortable pair of shoes. I can’t tell you enough about how happy you will be after investing in a great pair of hiking shoes. I recently bought the Danner Mountain Light Cascade and it has been a life changer (but actually). I can wear these for days at a time and they are so comfortable.

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At the end of the day though, I’ve learned that I really don’t need to bring everything. It’s fine if it’s a little too warm or cold, it’ll be fine if your hair gets messed up or if it rained on you – all that matters is that you got out and saw a little bit more of the world. I mean it is pretty big, after all.

Becoming a hiker

Hi Everyone,

A couple of years ago I moved from a tiny town in Minnesota to Denver, Colorado.  Before moving, I worked retail management – my job was the biggest part of my life, and I didn’t mind it at all, or I didn’t think I did at least. Don’t get me wrong, I had a social life…but I hardly ever hiked, or did much outside unless I was at the lake.

When the opportunity arose to move to Denver, I thought there would be several things rolling through my mind. But honestly, here’s how it went:

  1. Could I actually pick up my whole life and go?
  2. How could I not pick up my life and go?

About two months later, I packed up everything that would fit in my SUV and nothing more. My boyfriend and I had an apartment, but I had no job and hardly any money.  The only things I possessed were my belongings and a heart that was ready for a grand adventure.

The day after I arrived in Denver, we hiked to Alberta Falls in Rocky Mountain National Park.  I’m sure I’m not the first to say this, but hiking at 9,000 feet one day after you move from a much lower elevation is not easy.  I struggled the whole way and fell into a stream because I slipped on a rock – I was not a happy girl. However, when we went around the last curve and arrived at Alberta Falls, I didn’t care about slipping or being out of breath. My heart was so full of happiness and peacefulness. I swear I’ve never felt so free, so at home. I had fallen in love with hiking, with the feeling that it gave me.

It was then that I realized the most important things in life should be feelings like that. The rush when you accomplish something and can see the world from new perspectives is unparalleled. That was the beginning of everything.  That first hike, it was the beginning of an adventure that I never wanted to end; and it still hasn’t.

I hope to write continuously about my love affair with hiking to try to inspire people to get outside and adventure anywhere that makes you feel at home, that makes you feel free.