colorado

  • Hiking Green Mountain

    Green Mountain trailI bought my house in Lakewood in great location. To my West, the mountains in a series of ascending peaks, including the giant tower of Creation Rock in Red Rocks Park. To my South, the beautiful Bear Creek Lake Park (also: a handful to say) with the public beach and water skis on Soda Lake. To my North, of course, the big hulking mesa known as Green Mountain.

    It's been a while I've lived here, but I never hiked up Green Mountain. Much of it was simply because it was too cold or snowy, but finally it's warmed up and it was time to try hit the summit. I packed a protein bar and carried a giant jug of water (you'll need both) and set out to conquer my first Colorado mountain (that didn't have a ski lift).

    The first pleasant surprise is the trail system. Trails cross the mountain everywhere, they are superbly maintained, and the place is teeming with hikers, bikers, and occasionally horse riders. Google Maps, which I used for orienting, only has a small subset of the trails available, so make sure you get a better map from the City of Lakewood site or at the parking lot.

    I am lucky and don't have to drive at all. I just walk from my front door and I am on the trails nine minutes later. If you have to park, though, there are several pretty spacious lots, that though fill up relatively quickly on a warm weekend. The main entrance is on W Alameda Parkway on the East side, while the quickest way to the top is on the West side, across the mountain from CO 470 (Rooney Road Trailhead). 

  • Rocky Mountain National Park / First Open Week!

    2017 06 04 145200 neversummer 20170623 1216406316Colorado is justly famous for its mountains. The Rockies rise up in the middle of the continent like a wall meant to stop colonization and make the place rugged, remote, and scenic.

    Alas, humanity is really good at beating down nature, and the Rockies were no match for our relentless pursuit of wealth and suburbs. By now, there are homes everywhere in the state, except where Federal land ownership prevents construction. But the mountains are still there, marvelous in their beauty and isolation.

    Colorado is also famous for a few other things. People think it cold (which it really isn't, thanks to abundant sunshine and thin air) and they are reminded by the name of the state of the river, the mighty Colorado that scoured the Grand Canyon in the almost infinitely long time it has been flowing.

    Take these three things: the mountains, the snow, and the Colorado River, and put them all in one place. That's bound to be the most Coloradan place in the state, right? And that's what is Rocky Mountains National Park. Home to both the headwaters of the Colorado river and Longs Peak, one of the most prominent Fourteeners in the United States. Land of hikers and backpackers and hordes of tourists. 

    2017 06 04 141421 20170623 1063009743There is only one road that cuts through the park, the aptly named Trail Ridge Road. Most people drive it East to West, starting in the very picturesque town of Estes Park, climbing up to the Alpine zone, and then descending into the Colorado River Valley. Every year, the road is closed when the snow storms make passage impossible. Every year, Coloradans wait for the weekend when the snow is cleared and we can all drive to the most beautiful landscape to stand in an endless line of cars.

    Getting into Estes Park is easy. You follow one of the three highways, US 36, US 34, or CO 96, that converge onto the town. You also can't miss Estes Park: once you enter the valley, you'll see a beautiful town surrounded by high mountains in a green valley, just behind a reservoir. It's a spectacular setting, as evidenced by the number of real estate companies that set up shop in town.