Thursday, October 11, 2012

Hiking a social trail in Coal Creek Canyon - Boulder Colorado

 The Flatirons are some of the most well known mountains visually, on the Front Range of the Rockies here in Boulder; the flat rock faces reflect the sunlight in the morning which creates a stunning glow and they are full of wildlife, scenic views, steep climbs and even an arch!  Today I stumbled across a trail that took me through a burn area on the southern end of the Flatirons near Coal Creek Canyon.  Before you read on, I must first say this trail was not marked and I just happened across it; there is no map or parking lot, I just stopped on the side of the road, parked and hiked.  As far as I could tell, the trail was on Open Space land and it lead to the train tracks that you can see from Hwy 93.  After hiking through the burn area, then up a steep hill and down toward the train tracks, then the path continued on a service road beside the railroad.   Eventually the road crossed over the tracks and at this point we turned around and went back.   I wondered if the trail was a social trail to get to the train tracks, for photos maybe?  Or maybe that is just my guess, because I love photography.  

Getting there:  From the intersection of Hwy 72 and Hwy 93 in Arvada.  Drive west on Hwy 72 and turn right on the first road to the right called Plainview Rd.   Drive for about 2.4 miles up Plainview Road and you'll see a burn area, the trail starts on a sharp 'S' curve in the middle of the burn area, 2.4 miles from Hwy 72.  It's a social trail that I only happened to see when driving past and it panned out to be a great trail on a beautiful sunny day.  
Specs:  This is on the side of the road, no parking lot or toilet. The trail to the tracks is fairly short, it only took me about 20-30 minutes to reach the tracks and it could be hiked much faster without a baby.  After reaching the tracks, we continued along the dirt road that probably is a service road for the train.  We walked until the road crossed over the railroad and Magnolia was tired and fussy, so we turned around after eating some snacks.  
 
The hike:   I really didn't know if this trail would pan out when I started on it with Magnolia in the Ergo Carrier and my camelback on my back.  I always feel like a pack mule these days.  Initially, I had planned on hiking a trail near the intersection of 72 and Plainview Road;  I always see cars in a parking lot there and there are small open space signs nearby.  But when I stopped, the gate to the trail was locked with about 5 padlocks and I wasn't sure if hopping the gate with a baby was the best idea, so I got back in the car to continue down the road.  There were a  few other cars in the lot, I am not sure if they were hiking/biking or if they were there for another reason.  If anyone has any information on the Open Space trails in that area, please post!  
Anyway, the dirt road looked promising so I drove up the road and kept hoping I'd see a trail; I drove for nearly 3 miles until the road crossed the train tracks, here the road turned private and I turned around to head back down.  Then I happened to see this trail as I was driving back.  Since I had no-where else to go, I figured I'd hike there and even if the trail didn't pan out, I would just walk up and down the dirt road, which boasted eastern views of Hwy 93, the vast plains and windmills beyond.  The trail was better than a social trail, but definitely not popular and I thought it was ending a few times, but I kept walking and would see it again. 

This is the start of the trail from the road.  It isn't super obvious, but its on a large S curve, and in the burn area, 2.4 miles from the intersection of 72 and Plainview Rd.  
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 I love walking through a burn area, the flowers in the undergrowth are always beautiful.  
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 The last of the flowers....until next season.  I don't know what these are, but maybe one of my readers do? 
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There were several places that I had to step over fallen trees on the path. 
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 It was such a sunny day today, a perfect fall day and I felt very grateful to live in this beautiful state.
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 Flatirons. 
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 Some golden hues
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Magnolia in the Ergo, sucking down some water.  After the burn area the trail heads up a short steep section and then there is a rock outcropping on the top of the bluff, then the path continues down the other side and toward the tracks.  At about this time I heard a train coming, but hadn't seen the tracks yet, it got suddenly very loud and I got a little irrationally worried that it was coming straight at me and I couldn't see it over the mountain.  Eventually, I could see it through the trees and the trail continued toward the tracks so we walked over to watch it. 
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 I love the graffiti cars -- art.  
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It was pretty loud, Magnolia was so interested in it, but would bury her head in my chest.  
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Views from the tracks
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By far my favorite shot of the day, the caboose.  
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Here you can see the service road next to the tracks.  
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We continued walking down the service road, stopped for a snack and then hiked back to the car.  No more trains came through, thankfully, and we could see the long train in the tunnels on the side of the mountain in the distance.  
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Thanks for reading, if you know more about the trails in the area, please post some info!  
If you'd like to join our mailing list and receive an email when a new trail is posted a few times per month you can sign up here.  You can also purchase photos on this site, just contact me for details. 

5 comments:

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