Thursday, February 24, 2011

Apex Trail; a great place to hike or bike near the metro area

Start of Apex Trail
Apex Park is one of the more popular trails in Jefferson County Open Space; the park is open to hiking, biking and equestrian riding.  If you avoid Apex because of the crowds you are not alone, because of the crowding and different speeds in which people use the trail; Jeffco put in place an odd-day directional traffic for bikers in several areas along the trails.   They also created a new trail along the front/east side of the mountain.  You can check out the new changes here.  I have hiked at Apex several times since the changes, and it makes the hiking experience a lot more fun, and much safer too!
Getting there:  The main entrance to Apex Park is near Heritage Square in Golden, at the intersection of Co Hwy 93 and Hwy 40 (Colfax Ave).   The intersection is on a curve; make a sharp right turn from Colfax onto 93, and then make an immediate left turn into the parking lot.  Click here for a google map to input your personal directions and here for the Jefferson County website.    
Specs:  The park has a trail map that is well marked, and a pit toilet that is usually in rough shape.  The trails at Apex range in difficulty, but most are moderate and rocky causing you to watch your footing.

The Journey:  I usually hike alone during the weekdays; so I was glad to  have company on this hike, my friend Staci visiting from Virginia was eager to hit up the Colorado.  Fortunately, Staci is also an avid photographer and she let me borrow one of her Canons for the trail photos, since mine is in the shop; again. 
We started out on the main trail, both of us snapping lots of shots of the blue sky and earthy Colorado foliage, and hiked up the new Argos trail on the front side of the mountain which connects with the Pick n Sledge trail that was part of the original trail system.  The Argos trail much less icy than the main Apex trail which is in the valley; although there were several spots that had a lot of ice and mud.  The Argos trail provides great views looking to the east, north and south; with views of Denver, Golden, the I-70 corridor, and of Heritage Square below.   We reached the trail intersection and continued up the trail a little farther; the higher we hiked, the worse the trail conditions became; but this is typical winter hiking in Colorado, snow, mud and ice. 
After about an hour, we started back down the trail, the wind was making me a little chilly in my sweatshirt and pants, and decided to go to Coors; my favorite activity after a hike.  
We only hiked on a tiny portion of the numerous trails that Apex offers and there are several loops in the park from 1.5 miles to well over 9 miles including the Apex trail which continues all the way to the Lookout Mountain Nature Center, and the Enchanted Forest trail which is great on a hot summer day with lots of shade through a thick pine forest.  I frequently see deer and elk at Apex, but only saw birds on this day. 

What are your favorite trails/hikes in the metro area?  Please leave a comment and let me know! 

Sign of trail changes at the park, these were effective March, 2010

A blue bird with a peanut, I don;t know the type of bird, do you? 

Rock doggie happy to be hikin'

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