Monday, October 25, 2010

An easy family hike to Spud Lake, Potato Lake, Durango Colorado Road Trip

Spud Lake, Durango Colorado.  San Juan Mtns
Our road trip to the Southwest portion of Colorado encompassed a lot of driving and spending time in the car.  While it's fun to drive through the beautiful area, its much more fun to hike through it!  On the second day in the Durango area, we vacated our spot at the Haviland Campground and drove up the road to find another campsite and hike.  We continued driving north on 550 and turned down National Forest access road Lime Creek Road.  After a few miles of tough driving, we stopped at what we thought was an amazingly secluded campsite and set up camp, then walked up the road around a curve and found a trailhead to Spud Lake.  We thought we were so very lucky to find this amazing campsite, but once we returned from our hike at 1:00pm, the entire camp site was filled with cars and our secluded amazing site was no more.  When I returned home to research this hike, I found that it's called Spud Lake, but the actual name of the lakes are Scout Lake and Potato Lake, "Spud" lake is a nickname given to the lakes by locals in the area.  The hike is also very popular among locals for being an easy trail for people of all ages. 

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Haviland Lake Campground, Durango Colorado, San Juan Mountains Road Trip

Haviland Lake, campground on hill to right
On the second night of our road trip, we planned on camping 'somewhere' between Durango and Ouray.  We wanted to spend most of the time in this area hiking and camping, but we weren't sure which campgrounds were open or where we could find good national forest camping.   We drove north of Durango on Hwy 550 and the aspen trees were still near peak color and the groves of aspens were much bigger than we were used to living on the Front Range.  I decided we needed to camp here since the color was still near peak, plus it was getting dark, so we began to search for a spot.   I really wanted to camp in a national forest dispersed site so that the dogs could run free, but after searching down a few dirt roads and not finding a good site, we decided to continue up 550 farther north.  Just as we reached 550 and started north, we found the Haviland Lake Campground.  Two of it's three loops were still open during the fall and the camping fee was just $7.50, but the bathrooms weren't open and the water wasn't turned on; however there was garbage service.  Because we were tired, we camped here and planned to get up early to find a more secluded spot and to hike. 

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Valley View Campground and hot springs, Orient Land Trust, Sangre de Cristo Mountains

Views of the Sangre's and San Luis Valley
 For our 6 year wedding anniversary Josh and I bought this little Chalet camper and took a trip through southwest Colorado, an area we had never been to before.  On our way there, we stopped in the Sangre's to camp for the first night instead of making the 6 hour drive all in one day.  We decided to camp at Valley View Hot Springs in the Orient Land Trust just south of Salida on the west side of the Sangre's.  I was pleasantly surprised at the campground, many of the sites were well spaced apart, some had good privacy and nearly all had great views of the Sangre's or San Luis Valley.  Those that did not have views were very near to the hot springs.  The hot springs are located throughout the grounds and are all in a natural setting, many of the pools are fairly shallow; but pool #3 and the main pool and hot tub (which are the only pools created by cement) are deeper for actual swimming.  One more thing to note, this is a clothing optional campground and hot springs and many of the guests swam nude.  It was a new experience for us, but fun and different nonetheless. 

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Hiking in Westcliffe, Gibson Creek Trailhead

Sangre de Cristo range looking south
A couple of years ago my girlfriends and I started an "annual" girls camping trip; the first year all 6 of us went to Twin Lakes to camp, the next year we went to Rainbow Lakes outside of Nederland.  Then the last two summers two of the girls were pregnant and we didn't go camping; but this year the mommies were especially excited for a weekend away.  Due to all of our activities, jobs, weddings, etc, we decided to push our trip to October 10th.   As that date approached, we realized that it would be very cold to camp, and even though I was OK with this, the other girls were not.  It was then decided that we'd go to our friend Anne's parents house in Westcliffe.  We were still able to get into the mountains, but we'd be in beds and not be cold.  It was a very posh girls 'camping' weekend!  Nonetheless, we were still able to get out and hike at the Gibson Creek trailhead, right up against the Sangre de Cristo Mountains and the fall colors were just past peak and still looking brilliant against the bright blue Colorado sky.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Beaver Brook Trail to Windy Saddle Park; Jefferson County Colorado

Beaver Brook Creek with one of many small waterfalls
The Beaver Brook trail spans 8.65 miles from the trailhead in Genesee to the Windy Saddle parking lot on the Golden side of Lookout Mountain.  The trail is 8.6 miles one way and makes for a great day hike if you have a shuttle back to your car.  Josh and I hiked this trail last winter but we did hiked a few miles out then picked up the Chavez trail to make it a loop; but I knew I had to go back and complete the entire 8.6 mile hike.  The Beaver Brook trail is a hiker only, back-country trail just outside of the city on Lookout Mountain.  The trail is moderately difficult; (7 out of 10) with a few very steep sections in the beginning near Genesee and some sections with big boulders on the Windy Saddle side.  The trail provides good views into Clear Creek Canyon and of the Continental Divide, as well as sections through the forest and meadows. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Camping in Guanalla Pass; Burning Bear and Whiteside Campgrounds and Pike National forest Camping

Our new Chalet, views of Square Top Mtn, Pike N'tl Forest
 Last weekend Josh and I wanted to get out and camp for at least one night; I had my last Farmers Market booth October 2nd and we planned on running home, unpacking the market inventory, loading the camping gear and hitting the road!  We wanted to see the last of the fall colors in the mountains and to enjoy our newly bought Chalet camper!  Josh and I have been looking for a small camper for about a year now; we want to camp during the winter and that's pretty rough in a cold tent, we also wanted the ability to get off the ground at night and to still enjoy camping if it rains.  The Chalet is an A-frame style camper that is hard sided (a must out west) that folds down into a small pop-up style camper for the drive.  We weren't sure how it was going to do on a Colorado dirt road filled with mountains, potholes and more, but we were pleasantly surprised that it towed great and we made it way out into the wilderness without any problems!  

Monday, October 4, 2010

Chief Mountain in fall; Scenic drive on Peak to Peak highway

Orange & yellow along Peak to Peak Hwy, Squaw Pass Rd
I have been sick for nearly 3 weeks now with a terrible fall cold that is just not going away anytime soon!  Because of the cold I haven't been out hiking nearly as much since I am trying to rest, but last week I couldn't stand it any longer and I had to get outside and do a short hike!  I decided to hike Chief Mountain a sub-peak of Mt. Evans because it was close plus, the drive up Mt. Evans is a great place to see the fall color, even though it's a hike I have done before.  This year the aspen trees turned a tint of orange with the bright yellow and forest green evergreen trees.  
As I drove up the windy road I had to keep a careful eye on the road and not look at the scenery as much as I'd like because several cars were parked along the road with passengers even standing in the middle of the road to take photos of the beautiful colors!  The views were definitely stunning, but maybe not so stunning that it warrants standing in the middle of the road.  When I reached the trailhead, I was a little disappointed that all of  the aspen trees were at lower elevations, but the views from the top did not disappoint.