Thursday, April 29, 2010

Hiking in Clear Creek Canyon, Hwy 6

Jefferson County Open Space is developing  new trails in Clear Creek Canyon along highway 6, west of Golden.  I love driving up Clear Creek Canyon, with it's steep cliffs alongside the rushing river.   The Open Space trail has no name, map or bathrooms, just a parking lot and a trail.   
I have hiked here before in this blog post, but couldn't go as far as I wanted due to thunderstorms rolling in.  Since I had to turn back on the hike, I have always wanted to know what was on the other side of the mountain.  My grandmother used to sing a song to me when I was little that I was reminded of; "the bear went over the mountain, the bear went over the mountain to see what he could see, to see what he could see.  But all that he did see was the other side of the mountain, the other side of the mountain was all that he did see."  And that is all that I saw; but it was still a great hike.   

Getting there:  To get to the hike take highway 6 west from Golden  just past mile marker 268 there is a pull off parking lot on the north side of the street (opposite side of the river) that is lined with several red rocks; park there and you will notice a small trail to the west.   To find more information on Clear Creek Canyon there is a map about 1/4 of a mile on the north side of highway 6 when you first turn onto 6th Ave West from Golden, at the Highway 93/6th Ave intersection.  

The Journey:  It was a warm day as I pulled into the empty parking lot, the dogs were very excited to get out and hike, and so was I.  I enjoy this trail and others in Clear Creek Canyon because they are not frequented by many visitors and I enjoy the solitude.  We started up the trail, which is really easy to follow in the springtime compared to last fall when I first hiked here.  I made it quickly up the steep trail to the saddle of the mountain (you can see in the photo to the right the dogs just below the saddle), from the saddle the trail goes left or right.  I decided to see where the left trail went and I climbed up the steep trail and reached the top in just a couple of minutes.  The cairn on the peak shows you that you are in the right spot; this peak would be a great 1 hour short hike if you wanted to go down after this.  However, I wanted to continue up the other side of the mountain to the larger peak, I hiked back down to the saddle and then continued up the other side of the mountain. 
The trail continues on for about 30 minutes and was pretty easy to follow climbing up the rocks and scrub, in a short time I was higher than the small that I climbed at first.  The higher I hiked, the more scarce the trail gets.  When I reached the point where the trail leveled off in elevation the trail began to become very difficult to follow.  I continued along the top of the mountain until the trail opened up to a high mountain valley. 
The valley was bright green and filled with flowers; there was also a fence and possibly private property beyond the fence.  I didn't see a no trespassing sign, but I was also pretty much on the top and the trail was gone, I had hiked for about an hour and a half and was ready to descend so that I could get a few hours of work done. 
I made it down the mountain in a short 35 minutes and was back to my car in about 2 hours after I started hiking.  If you have hiked any trails in Clear Creek Canyon that you enjoy I'd love to hear your comments!

To get to the parking lot follow Clear Creek Canyon Road to mile marker 268 and pull off into the next parking lot.  

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  1. OMG Jenn! I thought your blog address said "Trailer Park Views"!! I was thinking, wow... this will be interesting!
    LOL I love dyslexia!

  2. Haha, I just noticed this comment, lololol too funny!!!