Saturday, April 10, 2021

Pine Bluffs, Wyoming Nature Trail

 One time on our way to Colorado, we decided to stop at the rest area in Pine Bluff, Wyoming and noticed that there is a nature trail that originates there. Today, Noelle wasn't feeling well and so I decided to let her rest while Sierra, Rosie and I got outside for a bit and headed to Pine Bluffs to explore the trail. We arrived at the rest area and Sierra was already hungry for a snack. She grabbed the bag of potato chips we had brought and climbed one of the bumpy, holey rocks in the rest area lawn.

After Sierra's snack, we set off on the trail. 

Almost immediately, Sierra found another rock to climb.

The trail then started to climb up to the top of the pine-clad ridge,

passing through a disc golf course and some scattered junipers.

Eventually we reached a grassy meadow near the top of the ridge. Here, the trail (really a 2 track road) split in two. We took a left and made a clockwise loop.

The road steeply climbed a gravelly ridge. We found a west facing overlook of distant, snow-covered peaks. The Snowy Range, I'm guessing. 

We continued along the ridge,

and eventually found a concrete and stone structure that may be some type of environmental education station. There were casts of different native animals and plants in the concrete.

Sierra found a rock chair to sit on here.

Rosie had to climb up on the wall to have a look around.

From the environmental education station we followed a spur road out to an overlook of Interstate 80 and the distant bluffs. 

Then, we started to make our way back through the meadow, 

then down to the parking area. 

We ate lunch in one of the shelters at the rest area, and then headed over to the large statue of Our Lady of Peace that you can see from the interstate. 

Sierra was not impressed. One the way home, we stopped at Laura Lee's Double L Country Store and Cafe for pie alamode.

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Loveland, Colorado's Foothills Nature Trail

 With beautiful weather forecast for Easter weekend, Noelle, Sierra, Rosie and I headed south to Loveland, CO to get some food (Betta Gumbo), go to the playground (Mehaffey Park) and go for a hike. Lunch from Betta Gumbo was very good. After some playing at the Mehaffey Park playground, we made the drive up the Big Thompson Canyon and hit the Foothills Nature Trail. 

The trail followed an old road with views across the canyon to Palisade Mountain.

We slowly made our way up the trail, pausing every now and then to rest on some rocks.

Eventually, a spur trail broke off of the road and headed up to the overlook.

The spur lead to an old stone, CCC-built shelter.

There wasn't much of a view from the shelter, unless you looked through the trees. After a short time we started our way back down the trail from the direction we had come. We stopped to rest at a grouping of cairns that had been constructed along the trail.

Soon, we arrived back at the parking area. We decided to cross US Highway 34 to check out Viestenz Smith Mountain Park.

Sierra and Rosie cooled off in the river for a bit.

Then, we walked around a bit and explored. We found this circular sculpture to be very interesting.

When it was time to leave, we drove back into Loveland. We explored the Chapungu Sculpture Park for a bit.

Then we started home via Greeley. We stopped in Greeley to pick up some beer from one of my favorite breweries, Weldwerks.

Saturday, March 6, 2021

Gateway Natural Area: Black Powder Trail and Seaman Reservoir

 With a forecast of beautiful, warm weather we decided to head out of town today and made our way down to Fort Collins, Colorado. Our first stop, the fun Sugar Beet Park 

just outside of Old Town. Sierra enjoyed this park with its train car, moveable benches 

and lots of play elements to climb on. 

After playing at the playground for about an hour or so, we headed over to O'Dell Brewing for a couple of beers 

and lunch from a food truck. Today's food truck was Mac 'n, and we all enjoyed their mac and cheese.

After lunch we headed into the mountains. We didn't head too far up the Poudre Canyon though. Today we visited Gateway Natural Area to do a little hiking. We started with a hike up the Black Powder Trail. It is short, at about .8 mile, but pretty steep. The hike starts with a crossing of the two forks of the Cache la Poudre River.

Then, you follow a dirt road for a short distance, 

before heading out on a narrow footpath that steeply ascends the mountain immediately.

With recent snow and warm temperatures, the trail was a bit slick with both snow and mud. The views of the surrounding mountains and the Seaman Reservoir were excellent.

We continued climbing, 

with views out over the Poudre River, Highway 14 and the surrounding mountains. We stopped a few times to admire the views from various unofficial overlooks and even Rosie seemed to enjoy the view.

On our descent, we hiked a short spur trail to an overlook. To be honest, the views were better on the main trail.

After a short stop at the overlook, we made our way back to the dirt road. We followed the dirt road to the Seaman Reservoir, admire the view (and the graffiti left by Rosie) 

and then headed back to the car. 

It was a great way to spend a warm, late-winter day in the mountains!