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Topic: mid-June CO wildflower trails, front range, next week< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 04 2013, 10:19 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Let's say I were coming to the greater Denver area next week (mid-June) because you are all having this fabulous weather I keep hearing about.   :)   And let's say I didn't want to go back to Rocky Mountain NP since I've been twice before, but would love to see what the lower elevations have to offer this time of year in terms of wildflowers.  Or cool rock formations (we are not climbers) or waterfalls.  What along the front range has something neat to see right now?  Where would be great place to base ourselves out of, camping-wise?

It can be state parks or any other area.  We can car camp and dayhike, basecamp and dahike or do a short BP trip (2-3 days) of 6-10 miles a day, depending on elevation gain.  We're also not opposed to a little snowshoeing if there's something really cool to see.  We have as many as 5 days or so to be in the area.

We're this close to heading to Mt. Rogers/Grayson Highlands in VA for the azalea bloom, so if there's something better where you're at (besides the weather LOL) I'd love to know what your favorite spots are for this time of year.

Thanks!  Our library system is quite sparse on available guidebooks for CO.  You'd think WI folks never traveled out of state or something.

peeb  :)


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 04 2013, 10:25 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Before July, not much in the way of spectacular wildflowers in the mountains.  But, for rock formations, check out Roxborough State Park near Denver, and Garden of the Gods near Colorado Springs.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 04 2013, 11:19 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

One of my favorite places on earth just might fit the bill for you in addition to another car camp nearby.

If you take 285 out od Denver over Kenosha and through Fairplay you'll eventualy come to the Buffalo Peaks roads. Both sides are great but I prefer the South side up Salt Creek. There is one little often dry creek to drive through, so if not much clearnace go to the North. Brush Park is a wonderful place to car camp, so is Lynch Creek on the North side.

Going up the Salt Creek road Brush Park is fairly easy driving. If you have a mountain vehicle you can continue on to a magical place with a free cabin that's been refurbished, first come first served. There is a chance there might yet be snow that high. Brush Park will likely have GREAT flowers. Buffalo Peaks is also magical for Elk, Bighorns, and even moose now that friends of mine see regularly. I have also seen black bear, mountain lion, beaver, martens, etc.

This is a relatively small massif with two 13K peaks connected by a delightful ridge, it often melts out sooner than other peaks in the area. Rough and Tumble Creek on the North side is sweet too with lots of lovely little ponds. This snotel site there shows the snow is gone:

http://www.wcc.nrcs.usda.gov/nwcc....TERYEAR

The Collegiates/Sawatch can melt out pretty early too but you might have to be choosy of drainages this time of year. They are right across the Arkansas Valley from the Buffalo Peaks. With 14ers you will not have the solitude of the Buffalo Peaks but they are well worth your time with lots of stuff at lower elevations. A drive up above St. Elmo is something I bet those boys would be psyched for.

The other option is to go back to Fairplay and then over Hoosier Pass to Breckenridge. I bet you'll find snow around Alma but there is always a chance you could get fairly close to Kite Lake. I bet flowers North of Silverthorne towards Williams Peak will be nice.

Buffalo Peaks drive from the Mousetrap [I70 & I25] should be about a 2 hour drive. Breckenridge via I70 about 1.5 hours.

If you can stomache a 2.5-3 hour drive Alvarado Campground near Westcliffe is spectacular and the Sangres, even the Eastern ones,  generally melt out considerably sooner than the Divide. I have a friend headed there this weekend if you want a report.

Yet another option is to head though Colorado springs to Divide and then South towards Cripple Creek. The hikes from the Crags Campground are great but I prefer Horsethief Park and Pancacke Rocks right from the Little Ike Tunnel. After a couple of nights based at the Crags Campground you could go through Cripple Creek and take either Shelf Road or Phantom Canyon down to Canyon City and Florence respectively.

I'll try and dig up some late Spring pics of Buffalo Peaks, etc.

EDIT: Ok, here's the Cabin I mentioned.


screen capture freeware

The view from near the cabin. If snow is not an issue flowers could be booming here and lower, this is an August photo:


how to use print screen

The Crags:


image hosting 15mb

My favorite range of Colorado as seen on a building in Westcliffe:


image hosting tinypic


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trail? I don't need no stinkin trail!
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 04 2013, 12:03 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

The flower action at this time of year will be in the foothills.  I don't have much experience with campgrounds, and the decent primitive sites are usually higher up.

I'd look for something around Black Hawk (I've heard Columbine Campground is nice) or maybe Evergreen.  Or south on 285 towards Bailey.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 04 2013, 12:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

West Buffalo from Rough & Tumbling. this was early July. Great place, hardly ever company, especially on weekdays outside hunting season.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 04 2013, 12:12 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I think flowers will be good at mid elevations as well, especially south aspects. Flowers between 9 and 11k around Buffalo Peaks should be very good. Same in lower reaches of Sangres.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 04 2013, 1:10 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Oh, very nice suggestions - this will be a hard call to make!

Too bad I don't have a mountain vehicle, that's some very pretty country there.

Thanks, guys!


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 04 2013, 8:23 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Comanche-Venable Trailhead and Alvarado Campground is fine for cars. Cars can make it into Brush Park or at least a beautiful Switchback View Campsite about a half mile from Brush Park. Car can get to Lynch Creek too. It's Brush Park and beyond you have to have clearance & 4WD.

It's a bit farther from Denver but the West side of the Sangres should be VERY accesible. I think Crestone competes for the prettiest town in the State. North Crestone Campground road paved almost all the way. Lower clearnace vehicle can camp within a mile of the South Crestone Trailhead. I have hiked Willow Lake several times in June and twice in May. I think ti is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. Comanche Lake out of Westcliffe isn't bad either.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 05 2013, 11:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It's a bit early for wildflowers in Colorado, although there are a few flowers blooming at lower elevations. I've been seeing sand lilies, larkspur, false star Soloman's seal, pensteman, and red Indian Paintbrush. Kinnikinnick and holly grape are blooming, as well as currant (gooseberry). Late July is peak wildflower season in the high country, and well worth the wait  :)

Roxborough State Park (west of Denver) should have some nice wildflowers now.
http://www.parks.state.co.us/Parks....rk.aspx


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 08 2013, 12:06 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Peeb,

A friend of mine is going to try and hike the Phantom Terrace in the Sangres from the Comanche-Venable Trailhead today. I was surprised he'd even be trying it. I will be back from Granite Creek tomorrow night and will probably have an e-mail to see how he did. If that trail is clear GO GO GO GO GO. Great as an overnight or a long day just under 13 miles. Even if you only get to Comanche Lake or Upper Venable and have to turn raound its AWESOME.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 09 2013, 1:49 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've collected almost 150 different species of flowering plants in 1 week from low to high elevations...

Don't go too high quite yet for flowers, though.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 10 2013, 10:15 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

PEEB!

My friends successfully dayhiked the Comanche Venable Loop on Saturday. There was a small, "no issue" cornice on Comanche Pass. A big cornice at the top of the Phantom Terrace had to be climbed around, pretty steep. Buddy thinks that will be no issue within the week. Sangres generally melt out before every other range in the State and buddy says this is about the worst he's ever seen it in earlier June. Even if your little ones can't hike the whole thing GO GO GO GO GO GO.

I 25 South to Colorado Springs
CO Highway 115 to Florence ["Canyon City" on signs in Springs]
CO Highway  69 to Westcliffe
69 South about 4 miles to turn West for Alavarado Campground and Comanche Venable Trailhead.


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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 10 2013, 12:33 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

It has been many years since I've done the Phantom Terrace, but if memory serves me correctly, the trail follows Crestone Creek for much of the way up.  At this time of year, even without much snow, there should be plenty of moisture and lots of wildflowers.  At least I seem to recall lots of flowers when I did it.

And the Phantom Terrace is really cool.  It alone is well worth the trip.

I'm really surprised that the trail is passable this early.  It's going to be a dry summer in southern Colorado.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jun. 10 2013, 2:21 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Phantom Terrace is at the head of Venable Creek, East side.

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