Trails traveled: Lodge Pole Pine Loop, Sunny Aspen Trail, Old Ski Run Loop
Out-n-Back, 4.75 miles round trip, 825 feet elevation gain, Difficulty: Moderate (Blue)
Time: 2.5 hrs
Weather: Clear, Sunny
- Winter Hike
I got on the trail this afternoon as the temperature eclipsed 50 °F, the sun was out, and there wasn’t a cloud in the sky. After checking the twitter accounts of local open space rangers, I confirmed that the trails at Meyer Ranch Park in Conifer, CO were open today.
I layered up with moisture-wicking base layers, snow pants, a fleece sweater, hat and gloves. I also had a jacket to put on top if I needed it. The people coming back to their cars told me everything I needed to know: grab the trekking poles, leave the jacket. Most of the people on the trail had poles, crampons, or snowshoes (or some combination) for traction in the snow.
Since it was my first winter hike of the season, it was kind of a trial-and-error run for this outing. My poles were a great help in the snow. The elevation gain throughout the hike was minimal, but without poles it would have been a much more slippery trek. On the way up, especially, I felt somewhat overdressed. The snow was packed and only a few inches deep on the trail. I could have gone with something beside snow pants. I was actually sweating for probably the first mile of the hike when the trees weren’t providing shade (and cover).
I would have loved to try to summit Legault Mountain, which requires some off-trail hiking to get to the top at 9,025 feet. However, the fresh snow and lack of any tracks in the snow leading the way, I decided against it. There was a nice rocky outcrop to climb near the trail to get some nice views of the surrounding area, grab a snack, and enjoy some solitude.
The park was much less busy than most other weekends. The parking lot had a lot of cars, but wasn’t full. I saw some people on the trail, but for most of the hike I enjoyed very quiet woods and nature around me. I saw several beautiful chickadees and a woodpecker on the hike. I even wrote a new poem, which I will include in my new book of nature poetry.
All in all, it was a great first winter hike. I felt comfortable out there. It was an enjoyable experience, which I hope to do again soon.