Friday, August 5, 2011

Osprey Trail on the South End of Gross Reservoir, Boulder Colorado

Views from just up the hill at the start of hike
Hiked July 21, 2011, at 25.5 weeks pregnant

This summer I wanted to explore Gross Reservoir, an area in Coal Creek Canyon and West of Boulder; the reservoir is very scenic and there are several trails surrounding it.  A few weeks ago I hiked from the scenic overlook on the opposite side of the canyon down to the raging river, you can read my trip report here.  This hike I went to the southwest part of the reservoir to the Osprey Point boat launch and trailhead.  From there I took the 1.5 mile trail all the way until it dead ends at South Boulder Creek where the river meets the reservoir.  At the start of my hike, a two gals came over to ask me where the 'cliff jumping' was on the reservoir, unfortunately, I had no idea where people cliff jump from, but I would like to know so that I can go sometime.  However, the reservoir is part of the Denver Water supply and does not allow swimming, which makes the water even more tempting in my opinion. If you know where this cliff jumping occurs, please post a comment!  This is a great place to canoe or kayak as well as hike and picnic.  

Getting there:  From Golden or the Denver metro area take highway 93 North to Hwy 72; turn left (west) on Highway 72 toward Pinecliffe to County Road 77/Gross Dam Road; this is just after mile marker 19.  Gross Dam Road will take you to both the north and south access points; you will reach a stop sign and T in the road by the Denver Water Headquarters where you will find a map of the reservoir and surrounding area.  

Specs:  There are restrooms on both the North and South side of the reservoir, and there is a restroom at the Osprey Point parking lot where this hike started from.  There is also a picnic area just up the road, and one picnic table with awning on the reservoir shore, next to the boat launch.  This trail is moderately difficulty and approx 1.5 miles round trip.  
Click on photo to the right to view map, the Osprey Point trailhead is bottom center of the map photo on left.  

The Hike:  It was already warm as I hit the trailhead at about 10am and there were a couple of other cars parked in the lot, but they were all there to use the boat launch, not the trail.  I started out on the trail, which is well marked with small trail signs that have an Osprey bird on them, and these signs are easy to see along the entire trail route.  The trail initially heads uphill and you are greeted with views of the reservoir when you reach the top of this vista.  Sadly there is a small grave near the edge of the cliff, so watch your step and don't stand too close to the edge, there are jagged rocks below.  After this, the trail heads downhill and continues in an up and down fashion for the duration of the hike; often down near the water, other times taking you above the reservoir for great distance views.  

The hummingbird feeder on the information sign at the start of the hike. There were at least 3 birds on the feeder when I walked up and I was lucky enough to get this great shot of them!  

The trail continues past several green meadows with wildflowers just past their peak.  Lots of yellow monarch butterflies were flying around landing on the flowers. 

Here are some views as the trail takes you above the reservoir, the entire time the trail was well maintained and easy to follow.  

Eventually the trail heads back down toward the water again, and you can hear the river and rapids in the distance, this is where South Boulder Creek meets the southwest point of the res.  Here the trail was underwater due to the high river, and I had to hike near the shore getting my feet wet.  At one point I had to take off my shoes and wade through the water; had I not been pregnant, I would have scaled the medium sized rock and jumped down to the other side, but my balance is not as good as it was without a belly sticking out.  Belle, my dog was terrified and I had to leash her just to get her to follow me, not much of a water dog :)

The trail pretty much dead ends shortly after the flooded section of the trail, there is a large orange garbage can and a flat area that would be great for a picnic.  I waded in the water and looked downriver at the rapids from the creek, it's pretty cool how quickly the water gets calm entering the res.  

This cool teepee and fire pit was just off the river next to the trail.  Apparently some back- country camping is allowed here. 

The flooded trail on the way back, you can see Belle's little black face and white body near the rock; at least she learns quickly and was able to go back through the water without the leash and didn't seem to scared.   

Belle near the end of the hike, never too tired and she will always keep going.  

I am looking forward to exploring Coal Creek Canyon a little more this summer, and want to check out the north side of the res next time.  I only wish I had a canoe or kayak to explore this scenic area.  
Please leave your comments or questions!  

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