Bob trekking: plan outdoor activities in advance; hike to Grayback Peak | Hiking bob
Now that summer is here, at least judging by the weather, more and more of us will be hiking, biking and camping. Of course, every true Coloradan loves the outdoors all year round, but summer allows us to go deeper and explore places that we might not have been able to visit during the winter. The increased interest and participation in outdoor recreation has helped create busy trails, crowded parks and campgrounds, and full parking lots at trailheads. Reservations are required only to visit places such as Rocky Mountain National Park and Hanging lake, or to stay in a campsite scattered around the US Forest Service South Platte Ranger District. Even places without a reservation required can still be crowded, and you might be able to travel a long distance to find there is no room for you.
Colorado’s summer weather is generally well suited for outdoor recreation, but with a few caveats. Summer days can start off hot and sunny and end with severe thunderstorms that bring not only cold rains, but also hail and lightning. Lots of lighting. Additionally, our generally low humidity can contribute to dehydration, and being at higher elevations can cause altitude sickness. A hot day in the mountains is often followed by a cool, even chilly night, often surprising those unfamiliar with Colorado’s climate.
Wildfires are still a threat, and while the east side of the Continental Divide has had a lot of rain and snow, the west side of the state is in the throes of severe drought, resulting in low water levels and dry forests. If you start one, make sure your campfire is completely out – you should be able to touch the ashes with your bare hands – before you go. It is illegal in Colorado to leave a hot campfire unattended.
The best way to ensure that you have the most fun with the least amount of disappointment is to plan ahead and be prepared. Call the park you plan to visit in advance and check the booking conditions. Ask what their busiest times are, or which trails or attractions are the most popular. If your first choice fails, have other options handy. Plan ahead to obtain any permits or passes that may be needed. And be flexible.
Also make sure you are properly equipped with the “Ten Essentials” at a minimum, and pay attention to the weather, but understand that in Colorado storms can break out regardless of forecast.
Remember: if you pack it, you must pack it, and Leaves no trace. And finally, make sure your vehicle is suitable for whatever roads you’re going to be on and … if there’s one place you shouldn’t depend on Google for directions, it’s the back- Colorado country.
And above all, have fun.
By the way: in last week’s column I suggested the Dixon Trail in Cheyenne Mountain State Park if you were looking for an “epic” day hike. This week – something a little easier. Gray-backed woodpecker, southwest of Cheyenne Mountain and overlooking Emerald Valley Ranch, is a moderate 4 mile (round trip) hike, with great views from the north and south ends of the small summit. A relatively new new layout near the trailhead makes it a bit easier to start the hike by avoiding a section of heavily eroded loose granite.
To succeed: Take Old Stage Road approximately 8.3 miles from the start of the dirt road. Turn left onto US Forest Service Road 371 (look for sign for Emerald Valley Ranch) and follow it for 0.25 mile. Look for the small parking lot on the left side of the road at the top of a small hill. An equestrian trail crosses the Grayback Peak Trail parking area. And please don’t block the equestrian track.
Be wise. Do good things.