Friday, May 18, 2012

Centennial Cone Park; back to hiking and blogging!

I've taken quite a hiatus from blogging and I miss it terribly.  The past 6 months have been the busiest of my life; my husband and I welcomed a baby girl to our family in November, Magnolia Gwen.  She is a fun, feisty little girl and we have hiked several times since her arrival but I just haven't had the time to write!  Because my time is more limited, my trail reviews are going to be a little shorter; the same great information and directions, with less text and more beautiful photos.  Some of the hikes might be repeats from earlier in the blog, but hiking with a child presents a whole new set of challenges; I am not able to hike as long and I have to be flexible regarding her mood, but it feels great to get outside and share my love of the trail with her.  I'd love to hear from other hiking families out there regarding which pack you use, or how you handle the trail with kids?  Please leave a comment! 

On Tuesday, Magnolia and I hit the trail for the second time this week and we decided to head up the mountain to Centennial Cone Park.  This is a trail that I have hiked and biked before, but haven't been there since 2009 and thought it would be a nice hike to try out my new Snugli hiking pack. 
Getting there and Details: The address of the hike is 4306 Camino Perdido, Golden 80403; as noted on the Jefferson County Open Space site here.  The park is easy to get to and well marked along the way with brown Jeffco signs.  There is parking for horse trailers, there are restrooms and a large parking lot.  *Of note, this trail is a alternate use trail on weekends; check here for information before going to the trailhead on the weekend!* 
You can find the trail map here, there are many miles of hiking/biking trails in the park for lots of variety whenever you visit!  I started out on the Travois Trot Trail to the Evening Sun Loop, finished the loop and back up the Travois Trot Trail to the parking lot; 2.3 miles.  The hike was easy, with mild elevation gain and had great views along the way. 
The hike: As a new mom, I am always trying to figure out the smallest amount of things that I need to carry for my daughter that I may need at at any given time.   So it took me a while to figure out what to take on a normal day hike and how to carry it with me while being comfortable and staying hydrated myself.  Since her birth, I have been hiking with Magnolia in the Ergo Carrier which doesn't offer a place to carry water and as she gets older she is less comfortable in the Ergo and very interested in watching the scenery along the trail.  We were gifted a Snugli carrier for hiking use (shown below in photos), and my husband hiked with Magnolia on his back in this carrier the past 2 weekends and he thought it was wonderful, plus she seemed to like it a lot.  I was eager to try it out myself, expecially after I noticed all the pockets that could easily hold my water, rather than me holding a waterbottle while I hiked. 
The Snugli offers a ton of storage and I was able to fit my camelback bladder into the pack and food for myself.  My phone and camera were kept handy in the small pocket on the waist strap support and there was plenty of extra space if I had needed it as well.  Initially, I was concerned about getting Magnolia on my back while in the pack all by myself, but it turned out easier than expected, and I was able to get her snapped into the carrier and then set the carrier in our SUV to put it on my back.     
At the last minute I attached a toy for Magnolia to play with, which I thought was quite smart of me; at least until I realized the toy rattled and I am terrified of rattlesnakes.  My heart would skip a beat whenever she would play with it before I realized it was a toy, not an actual snake.  Note to self, attach a toy that doesn't make noise next time. 

We hiked down the Travois trail into the valley, which was actually the only option on this day because the main trail is closed for an Elk Herd this spring.  (Planned opening mid June per the sign)  The trail was lined with wildflowers and green grass on this beautiful sunny day; Magnolia fussed for the first few minutes and then calmed down and took in the scenery, as did I.  The trail continued down into the valley to a wooden bridge that spans a seasonal creek. 
The green valley and wildflowers made for lots of photo opportunities along the way.

There was very little shade along the trail and I was glad that we decided to hike on a mild spring day.  There were plenty of beautiful flowers along the trail including the beautiful pink and purple Colorado daisies in the photo above.
  After a 1/2 mile you come to a trail split at the Evening Sun Loop intersection.  I chose to go right, on the Evening Sun trail ,and this trail took me around the side of the mountain with great views of the valley below.  Eventually the trail intersects again and you can choose to finish the Evening Sun Loop (which is what I did) or continue farther down the Travois Trot trail.  The Evening Sun Trail looped to the dryer side of the mountain, and the trail became more rocky and steep, but it was still moderately easy. 

I was truly enjoying this hike, but my shoulders really began to ache with the weight of the pack resting solely on them.  Even after adjusting the straps numerous times, I still was uncomfortable. 
As a new mom, I was kind of worried with having Magnolia on my back and being unable to see her as we hiked alone.  I had considered adding a mirror to the pack, but came up with a better solution as I started the trail, I took pictures of Magnolia along the way just to check on her when she got quiet or if she was fussing, this worked really well and help to put me at ease when  I needed to check on her, plus I am snapping photos all the time anyway and almost always have my camera in my hands. 
On the dry side of the mountain, the trail got much steeper and continued along the side of the side of the mountain.  The views were great, however, and I kept hoping I might see the elk herd living here through the winter, but I didn't. 
The photos above are taken while looking down the steep side of the Evening Sun trail to the valley below, the trees in the photo on the left are full grown trees, which helps to show how steep the drop was along the trail. 

One of the few trees on the hike: even though it was on the side of the mountain there was enough space to sit down and rest for a minute in the shade.  The trail then went slightly uphill to finish the Evening Sun Loop as you walked back to the trail intersection. 

After we crossed the bridge again we hiked back up the valley to our car.  You can see the pit toilets in the photo above on the right side.  This is definitely one of the pretties parking lots in the Open Space system and even the toilets are scenic sitting looking sitting on the top of the valley hill. 
It took me about an hour and a half to complete the 2.3 mile hike, but I stopped often to adjust the straps on my backpack, which never seemed to fit me quite right, unfortunately.

When the hike was over, Magnolia and I sat in the grass by the parking lot while I ate an apple and she had some milk.  It was fun to watch her take in the views and then check out the small things around her like the grass, flowers and ants.  She properly picked the grass and attempted to eat it -- in true 6 month old fashion. 
Overall, this was a great hike to try out my new pack, however, while the pack was great for convenience, pocket space, comfort for baby and ease of carrying; it was terribly painful for my shoulders.  No matter how many times I adjusted the numerous straps, I couldn't find a way to take the pressure off my shoulder blades and it became pretty uncomfortable.  I had planned on hiking much longer, but the shoulder pain was more than I could handle for a longer hike.  While the pack was great for my husband, it was not so great for my petite frame. 
Centennial Cone Park, is a great park to visit, an easy hike, few people (during the week) and great views of the surrounding mountains and valley below.  If you have hiked here, or have any questions please leave a comment. 
Other hikes in the area you might like are Golden Gate Canyon, White Ranch Open Space and Mount Galbraith which is farther down the mountain closer to Golden.  All are great trails and offer spectacular views of the Front Range foothills.     


  1. Hi Jennifer,
    NO small kids w/us to hike, but do see plenty on our hiking trails w/packs. We do the 14ers. Don't know if we will do all of them. Our last hike was Twin Sisters, which I need to post. Hoping to get alot more hiking done this year than what we did last year. Looking forward to reading Ur trail reports.

  2. HI Susan, Thanks for checking out my site! We have done 10, 14ers, but a couple were repeats and they have all been the easier peaks. We tried a Class 3 many years ago and it was just too much loose rock to be comfortable with! I added your blog to my reading list, looking forward to reading your summer 14ers!

  3. Great to see you return to hiking with your little. We have the Deuter Kid Comfort Carrier II and really like it. I reviewed our first hike with the carrier in my post here. We haven't hiked as much as we would like, but hoping to do more in the near future. Looking forward to reading more of your hike reviews!

  4. Hi Cheree, you are the second person to tell me about the Deuter, so I really must look into them! Thanks, and I will totally check out your review right now.

  5. I am petite as well, and have used a couple of Kelty Carriers. I had one 12 years ago that I think was Kelty because it was like the ones I have now for my daughter. They are built more like back-country backpacks, so your hips take some of the weight. I like the self opening "stand", and usually put my little girl in it on the ground and then hoisted it up. This got harder as she got older/heavier, but I'm a single mom, so I do what I have to do and recruit her older brother for help when needed! I too would snap pictures over my shoulders to see how she was doing! Because I am only 5'-ish and 100 pounds, I have yet to find a carrier that fit me well, spreads the weight, and was easy to put on and take off alone, but big bro is now 12 and has 3 14ers under his belt and little one is now almost 4 and doing short hikes without me having to carry her.

  6. Lisa, that is great! Good for the big brother! I am always amazed when I see kids passing me as they go up the 14er, haha! I will check out the Kelty carriers, thanks!

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