Thursday, July 28, 2011

Warren Gulch Trailhead, for hikers and bikers; Idaho Springs, CO

Hiked this trail June 30, 2011, at 22 weeks pregnant
Summer hiking this season has kept me closer to home and I have been exploring Clear Creek County trails which give me a little bit of a higher altitude hike, but without the crowds of Open Space trails.  There are numerous trails in Clear Creek County that can be found on their website here
I hiked Warren Gulch last week, and while the website gave good directions on how to get to the hike, they left out that there is no parking at the trailhead, the road is a dirt  single two track that continues up the Gulch with no place to turn around if another car comes, or if you want to turn back.  However, once I found the trail and parked, I did end up having a great hike.  It was just a little dicey to get there.  

Getting there:  Warren Gulch trailhead is on the Clear Creek site about halfway down the page.  The website gears this trail as a biking trail and suggests the biker park in Idaho Springs and then ride to the trailhead over 1.5 miles away.  However, I was not planning to walk from Idaho Springs to the trailhead, so I followed the directions and drove to the trailhead.  It is on a very narrow road, with no parking accept for a few small areas to pull off to the side and park.  I was not clear if this was private property or not, but there were no signs stating that it was.  Here are the directions per Clear Creek's website:   I-70 Idaho Springs Exit #241, go through East Idaho Springs and find parking, start your bike ride heading west to fork in road, take the left at the fork onto Miner Street, take this to Soda Creek Road, left onto Soda Creek Rd., 1.5 miles on Soda Creek Rd.(you will pass Indian Springs Resort), to the Idaho Springs Recycling Center on the right, opposite the recycling center is Steves Canyon Rd., turn left onto this road and continue ½ mile down. 
Very narrow road with little parking to access trail
The trail was on the left side of the road, it was not hard to spot if you are looking for it diligently.  If you reach a house on your left, you have gone too far. 
Specs:  There are no restrooms here, closest are in Idaho Springs; the trail is intermediate in difficulty.  The trail goes on at least 8 miles up the mountainside; it is part of the Colorado East Mountain Segment of the American Discovery Trail, the nations first coast-to-coast, non-motorized recreation trail per their website. The trail was well maintained and moderate difficulty. 

The Hike:   The trail was very secluded and started up the mountain in the woods, which was nice for the shade on this hot day.  I could see views of the mountains peeking through the trees and there were wildflowers lining the trail. 

Columbine flowers along the trail and road; one of the most unique flowers I think and there are so many more this season with all the rain we are getting! 

Views of the Continental Divide peeking through the trees ~ still a lot of snow on the mountains!

Well maintained trail through the woods.

Apple or Cherry Blossoms along the trail

Eventually the trail just takes you over a ridge to an area of houses.  It surprised me cause I was not expecting that at all.  Walk on the trail next to the private property and the trail curves around to a dirt road.  Continue up this dirt road about 100 yards and there is a large curve in the road.  At this point, the trail continues into the woods, however I did not notice the trail here, so I continued up the road.  You can do either.  The trail through the woods (which I descended on) was not well maintained in this short section and you could possibly get lost.  But its much shorter.  If you want, continue up the trail diagonally across the mountain passing well below a house until you reach the dirt road.  Continue up the road and around a curve for a short walk until you find the trail sign directing you off the road and back onto the trail. 

I continued up the road because I missed the trail and came to this sign, I followed the arrow toward Warren Gulch; the dirt road continued for about 1/2 mile, passing houses with great views of the mountains beyond.  One of the houses had 3 dogs that ran out into the road at me barking like crazy, fortunately Belle the little protector since I have been pregnant, was nice to them.  However, it was not a fun situation as they continued to follow us and growl;  and their owner, who was outside watching this did nothing to stop it?  So, keep this in mind if you hike up this route. 

Eventually the road curved around to the right, and then continued upward again, shortly after there is the trail that I am pointing to in the photo.  There is a small sign as well to direct you to the Warren Gulch Trail. 

The sign that is hard to see, but is next to the trail continuation after the road section.

I continued down the trail after the road for about 10 minutes, and then it was time for me to turn around.  Per the information on the Clear Creek website, this trail continues up to the top of Mount Evans byway. 

When I hiked back, I avoided the dogs by the house and cut through the woods randomly finding the trail that I missed and mentioned above.  I hiked down the trail for a few hundred yards and then came out to the road, continued down the road 100 yards and back to the main trail. 

Me at 22 weeks pregnant; hiked this trail June 30th, 2011.  It just took me forever to post! 

22 weeks pregnant, checking out the views! 

If you have hiked here or have a favorite trail from Idaho Springs, please post your comments! 

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