THE 2020 SEASON
The 2020 hiking season has been incredible, even in the face of adversity. The pandemic has made for a logistically challenging season. Somehow, I was still able to piece together an incredible 230+ miles on the trail this season and able to see some truly spectacular places. Enjoy these photos and stories from the 2020 season.
November 28, 2020 · The snowshoeing trek to Lower Crystal Lake in the White River National Forest was amazing, the weather was perfect, not a cloud in the sky and a light breeze. Though it was a bit brisk at the start of the trek, it was two-degrees below zero. There were a couple of people gearing up at the trailhead, so I expected to see them on the trail. However, they ended up heading off to Mohawk Lakes. I headed off to Lower Crystal Lake, the trail is difficult in the Summer, the trail quickly jumps from the trailhead and continues at a steady incline.
November 26, 2020 · The Buffalo Peaks Wilderness Loop inside the Pike National Forest was the first snowshoeing trek of the Winter leg of the 2020 hiking season. I did this trail on Thanksgiving Day and it had snowed the night before. Most of the drive in was good, then once the road turned over to a dirt road, the depth of the snow on the road gradually increased up to the trailhead. I am still getting used to what is considered safe or smart when in the Jeep Wrangler.
November 7, 2020 · The trek to Kokomo Pass is along a portion of the Continental Divide Trail inside the White River National Forest was a pleasant surprise. The trail itself is technically not challenging, however, the slope of the trail it is relentless. There are plenty of tall healthy conifers along this open and airy trail making for a very enjoyable hike. The weather forecast for this trek was all over the place.
October 20, 2020 · The hike along the Bowmen Creek in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness inside the Gunnison National Forest is described as easy. That is true, for the first 1.3 miles of the trail, after that it is a difficult trail and requires GPS. The trail or what would passes as a trail is very lightly traveled and is an exercise in finding and following game trails until the fade out. After reviewing my step-by-step GPS tracks, there was not much deviation from the documented trail. However, it is not really a trail and requires a lot of bushwhacking through knee-high to well over six feet tall Willow shrubs.
October 3, 2020 · The hike to Elkhead Pass in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness within the San Isabel National Forest is particularly challenging for the first 2.2 miles. The first 2.2 miles is a steep, knotty and lumpy trail. The steep slope of this trail beings to relent at a group of abandoned cabins. The next four miles to Elkhead Pass meander up a wide glacial valley. The views of the valley are incredible this time of year.
September 26, 2020 · The trek to Horn Fork Basin and Bear Lake is a particularly nice hike, most of the trek is in a wide U-shaped glacial valley. From the trailhead to the split to either the Horn Fork Basin or to Kroenke Lake is well shaded and a smooth glide. There are three 14er's accessible from this trailhead and the parking lot is usually full at all hours for the day, so parking at the trailhead can be challenging. It was a beautiful sunny day on the trail. There were a few high clouds that raced by from time to time.
September 6, 2020 · The trek to Blue Lake in the Raggeds Wilderness inside the Gunnison National Forest was part of a two adventure just outside of Crested Butte. The weather on day-two was spectacular, a bug blue sky and a few scattered high-level clouds. This portion of the Raggeds Wilderness is made of layered mudstone, like that in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness. As such, the peaks and valleys are striking layered strata. However, this area has a lush green carpet of shrubs and grasses that create a unique visual effect in the mudstone strata.
September 5, 2020 · The trek to Copper Lake by Crested Butte in the Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness was one of the most interesting treks of the season. I have wanted to get some trail time in the Crested Butte area and this trail was spectacular. The weather was perfect, the sky was an incredible blue and there was not a cloud in the sky until mid-day, and then they were only scattered puffy white clouds. This was a long trek and took all day, but it was worth it.
August 30, 2020 · The trek along the Tunnel Lake trail in the San Isabel National Forest runs along a portion of the Continental Divide Trail. The trailhead is West of Saint Elmo and along a fun 4WD trail that can be taken up to Tincup Pass. I had never been to Saint Elmo, and from what I read about the hotel there, it seemed like a forgotten mining town. Turns out it is an extremely popular destination for off-roading adventures and the small old town is busy.
August 8, 2020 · The hike to Saint Kevin Lake in the Holy Cross Wilderness along the northern edge of the Sawatch Range has a noticeable elevation gain of about 1.5K feet within the first two miles. That elevation gain seems to keep people off this trail, which is great. On the way in, I only saw one couple camping close to the trail. Other than that bad encounter, more on that later, I did not encounter anyone else on the trail until I was getting ready to head back from Saint Kevin Lake.
August 1 - 2, 2020 · I did the trek to West Tennessee Lakes in the Holy Cross Wilderness within the San Isabel National Forest as a two-day trek, starting at Tennessee Pass and continuing along the Continental Divide Trail for a portion of the trek. The weather for this two-day trek was perfect. The West Tennessee Lakes are in the northern portion of the Sawatch Range. I have been on the portion of the trail from Tennessee Pass to Lily Lake last year to do some snowshoeing, as such the first leg of the trail moves quickly up to a place called Wurst Ditch.
July 25, 2020 · The hike to Crater Lake in the Indian Peaks Wilderness starts at the Monarch trailhead near Grand Lake. This was my second attempt at this lake. The first time, I got to the trailhead a bit late and I have never seen that many cars at this trailhead. Given the guidance on social distancing, what I saw was exactly the opposite of that, so I went off-roading in Fraiser that day.
July 11, 2020 · Rainbow Lake is in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness just north of Buena Vista. The trail to the lake is a spur along Pine Creek Trail. In a word, the trail was hot. It was a hot day all-around. The sky was picture-perfect deep blue without a cloud in the sky. However, a good portion of the trail is in the White River National Forest, so a fair amount of fire mitigation has been done - which is a good thing. However, as a result the tall stands of Pine are sparse and the groundcover has mostly been removed, and sunlight easily reaches the forest floor and trail.
July 3, 2020 · The hike to Magdalene Mine, also known as Magdalena Mine, was an interesting hike. This was my July Fourth Holiday hike, though I did this hike on July Third. I had my eye on this trail for some time and I am glad I finally got to do this trail. The weather was a mixed bag, but for the most part, the trek in was great weather, with occasional storms in the distance.
June 20, 2020 · The hike to Lake Charles and Mystic Lake deep in the Holy Cross Wilderness was a spectacular hike with big blue skies and incredible views. Though the first part of the trail, while clear was in dense conifers, once you get closer to treeline the views are breathtaking. The trailhead is tucked away in a remote corner of the Holy Cross Wilderness and requires a 4WD to get to. The road narrows to a single-track off-road road with no room to spare on either side of the road. Thankfully, I did not run into any traffic either way. Once at the trailhead, the signs at the trailhead make it very clear you are in bear country and that bears are active in the area; thankfully, I did not see any bears on this trek.
June 14, 2020 · The hike to Lake Ann in the Collegiate Peaks Wilderness was along a stretch of the Continental Divide Trail. The weather was perfect, a big blue sky and for the most part I had the trail to myself. The trail is not that difficult, except for a few spots with steep inclines.
June 7, 2020 · The hike to Native Lake along the Highline Trail in the Mount Massive Wilderness starts at the Leadville National Fish Hatchery. The hatchery was closed due to COVID-19 but the grounds and buildings look very nice and are very well kept. This was my first time back on the trail since mid-March. And in some ways kind of felt like my first time on the trail.
March 14, 2020 · The snowshoeing trek along the Ouzel Trail in the Wild Basin area of Rocky Mountain National Park was breathtaking. The weather was perfect, a light breeze and at times, no breeze at all along the ridge just below Lower Ouzel Lake. The sky was a big blue with large white clouds racing by.
February 15, 2020 · The original plan was for a snowshoeing trek along Little Brown's Creek, which is just north of Brown's Creek Trail and shares a common trailhead. However, there were a couple of things that happened that played out that changed the course of this 9.7-mile trek. Thankfully, the weather for this trek was great. It was a clear sunny day with very little wind.
January 18, 2020 · The trek along the Lone Pine Lake trail is an easy trail along the oxbows, I have been to Lone Pine Lake in the Summer and in the Winter the snow-covered oxbows are very pretty. It was overcast for most of the trek in and began to clear up on the way out.
MORE SEASONS ON THE TRAIL
Collegiate Peaks Wilderness9
Eagles Nest Wilderness10
Fossil Ridge Wilderness1
Fraser Experimental Forest1
Gunnison National Forest1
Holy Cross Wilderness12
Indian Peaks Wilderness17
James Peak Wilderness1
Maroon Bells-Snowmass Wilderness2
Mount Evans Wilderness2
Mount Massive Wilderness2
Pike National Forest1
Rocky Mountain National Park41
San Isabel National Forest6
Sangre de Cristo Wilderness1
White River National Forest10
TRAILS BY MONTH