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help planning a short loop in CO with my dad
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Landon Schrock
(lschrock) - F

Locale: Ozarks
help planning a short loop in CO with my dad on 06/18/2013 11:15:18 MDT Print View

I'm looking at taking my 60-year old father on a short (two night) hiking trip in Colorado. He's in pretty good shape running twice a week. He'll be hauling a hyperlight murmer with a revelation 20 bag, food, insulation, and water. I'll have the rest. I was looking for short hikes maybe under 25 miles or so..

I'd sure appreciate some help!



Eric Lundquist
(cobberman) - F - M

Locale: Northern Colorado
Re: help planning a short loop in CO with my dad on 06/18/2013 12:33:02 MDT Print View

Anywhere specific? Does it need to be within a certain driving distance of Denver, Colorado Springs, etc?

Stuart .
(lotuseater) - F

Locale: Colorado
Short loops in CO on 06/18/2013 12:47:21 MDT Print View

Landon - How soon it the trip, and do you have any geographic preferences within CO, or a target altitude you want to stay below? Is this a weekend or a weekday trip? Trails close to the Front Range are busiest at weekends, and if you're looking at wilderness areas or national parks, backcountry permits will be trickier to come by. During July and much of August you'll want to be below treeline by 12 noon to minimize the risk of being caught in monsoon season thunderstorms. Snowmelt is well and truly underway. My last trip out at altitude was over Memorial Day weekend, and there was a lot of snow to posthole through from 10,500 and higher. I'd hazard a guess that the snowline is closer to 11,500 ft by now, and southern exposure routes should be clear.

Here are a few links to trip reports in / near the Front Range, west of Denver and Boulder:

Lost Creek Wilderness

Five Loops

Landon Schrock
(lschrock) - F

Locale: Ozarks
location on 06/18/2013 16:40:33 MDT Print View

I'm in oklahoma so southwest and northeast co are both the same distance... also, good info, I'll check those links out. Also, We'll be out thurs-sat... July 11-13. Anything else that's around durango?

Edited by lschrock on 06/18/2013 16:54:11 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Location on 06/18/2013 18:15:52 MDT Print View

There are actually two loops in a figure 8 shape that you can do in Lost Creek. The Goose Creek loop in Pmags' link is the eastern half of the "8." You can also do a loop from Lost Park over Bison Peak and McCurdy Mtn. I think the western end of the loop is 27 miles vs. 20 for Goose Creek, and more elevation gain and loss. The advantage is you get up above timberline for some nice views.

Landon Schrock
(lschrock) - F

Locale: Ozarks
preference on 06/18/2013 23:44:34 MDT Print View

Luke, which did you prefer?

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re preferences on 06/19/2013 08:39:30 MDT Print View

I'd lean towards the longer western loop IF your dad's knees can handle it and he's okay with the altitude. The eastern loop is mostly in the canyons. Its cool but the western loop has some canyon hiking plus 4 or 5 miles above treeline. On a nice day you have views of Pikes Peak and across South Park.

Here are some trip reports

This one is about two hikes on the western loop

This one is about a different hike that included parts of the loop.

I have always done the loop in a counter-clockwise direction. The advantage of this is I am going down on the steepest part of the trip (the decent into Refrigerator Gulch). However you might consider hiking it clockwise from Lost Park. That way you could camp the first night at a lower elevation.

Edit - has good information on the area. Go through their pictures with a map and you'll have a good idea of what the area is like.

Edit II - Here is a map of the western loop that I did

Here is a map of the eastern loop.

You could do the eastern loop and make a side trip from McCurdy Park to get above treeline and see the views up there.

One thing to think about is where you will be sleeping. Going up to 12,000 during the day should not be too bad but sleeping all night a 10,000 feet with no acclimatizing is a bit risky. I'd be looking to camp below 9000 ft. if possible the first night. The second night you can go a bit higher.

Edited by Cameron on 06/19/2013 09:07:13 MDT.

Dean F.
(acrosome) - MLife

Locale: Back in the Front Range
What are you looking for? on 06/25/2013 09:16:48 MDT Print View

Lost Creek Wilderness is pretty, has respectable fishing, and has the virtue of being close to my house, so it is one of my go-to places. It is also easy to link trails together into a loop of almost any length you like. However, it is NOT the hike for classic alpine high-country Colorado scenery, if that's what you're looking for. So I have to ask- what are you looking for?

Coming from Oklahoma you could hit the Sangre de Cristo Wilderness, Great Sand Dunes National Park (GSDNP-which also includes parts of the Sangre de Cristo mountains), or the South San Juan or Weminuche Wildernesses quite easily. Just aim for Walsenberg, and thence to Alamosa. Epic hikes in these regions are beyond counting.

Here's a short semiloop I did in the South San Juans:

In the Sangre de Cristos you could hike Music Pass as an over-nighter, perhaps even drop into the Sand Creek Drainage on the other side to putter around and camp for the night, then hike back out the same way. The nice thing about music pass is that as long as you have a 4WD vehicle you can drive to about 10,000 feet, then just hop over the pass and putter around the drainage. Lovely mountains, a couple of lakes, etc. I might put this high on my recommendation list as an easy place to hit from Oklahoma, but it isn't a loop.

Here's a trip report of mine for a short Sand Dunes hike:

And there is some more about a Sand Dunes day-hike later in my old Grand Canyon trip report:

A wonderful idea, but admittedly not a loop and you'd need to get a shuttle, would be hiking over music pass, down Sand Creek, and out to a pickup in GSDNP. That could probably be done as an overnighter, but might be more pleasant as a long weekend. You could easily arrive late on Friday and hike over the pass to camp by Sand Creek, then camp the second night somewhere north or northeast of the Dunes on the Sand Ramp Trail- there are several campsites. This would make most of the hike a gentle downhill, and I think you could easily make the Point of No Return for a pickup my mid-afternoon Sunday.

If I were in the country I'd offer to shuttle you (I live in Colorado Springs) but I'm not. Sorry.

I recall researching loops int he Sangres a while ago, and unfortunately due to the unique geography there aren't many. I'd need my maps to remind me of them to recommend them, but you can find them on the Sky Terrain map easily. And the Sangres are scenic as hell.

Then, for post-hike recovery from any of these, there is a geothermally heated pool in Hooper, just north of Alamosa.

Or, hell, you could combine the hike and a hot spring by hiking to Rainbow Hot Springs in the Weminuche Wilderness. It's about a day hike to get there, stay overnight, hike out. I'm not sure about the mileage, but IIRC there are opportunities to make that a loop. (Again, I'd need my maps to verify.) The place is infested with nudists, though, so if you are of delicate constitution- you have been warned.

Seriously, epic hikes in the region are countless. Tell us what you're looking for. Is a little elevation gain OK? Or would you rather limit it to 3000 feet or so? Or 1000 feet? Do you want well-maintained trails, or are you okay with a bit of bushwhacking or route-finding? Do you want to climb to an epic altitude, or do you want to keep it below 9000 feet? Or would you like to bag a 14er.

Edited by acrosome on 06/25/2013 09:18:40 MDT.