Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Roosevelt National Forest: Crosier Mountain Trail: Garden Gate/Rainbow/County Rd. 43 Loop

 I woke up at about 4 am this morning and couldn't get back to sleep. I decided that I would get ready for my day's adventure and the drive down to Loveland, CO. Quickly into the drive it started to get light. As we approach the first day of summer, it seems it starts to get light at about 5 am. The drive was pretty uneventful, though it appears that they got some major hail in Cheyenne last night. There were scattered piles of it along sections of I-25 in town. After a stop to get breakfast to go, and another stop for gas, I headed up the Big Thompson Canyon and then turned onto County Road 43 at Drake for my hike.

I actually missed the trailhead at the Garden Gate section of the Crosier Mountain Trail. There's not a sign along the side of the road, just a small, gravel parking area. Once I backtracked and found the trailhead parking area, I quickly hit the trail and noticed a sign for the trail about 25 yards from the parking area. 

The trail started with a climb through a grassy area with nice views of the surrounding mountains.

Soon the trail entered a wooded area and passed an open mine.

Every now and then views opened up of the surrounding mountains, showing the evidence of last summer's Cameron Peak Fire.

The trail continued an unrelenting climb up into areas with grassy meadows sprinkled with intermittent stands of pines.

After a bit, the climbing relented and the trail entered into a beautiful meadow.

The trail left the meadow and resumed climbing.

Upon reaching the top of the ridge, views opened up to the west overlooking Rocky Mountain National Park and Estes Park. I especially appreciated the view of Longs Peak which I had hiked with my brother Kris back in 2009.

As I made my way back to the trail, I found a piece of bone; perhaps an elk vertebrae?

A few other areas along the ridge also offered views of the surrounding mountains.

After following the ridge for a bit, I found myself at the junction with the Summit Trail.

 The Summit Trail was relatively short, but quite steep. I was relieved when I reached the summit area and a wonderful view.

I climbed an outcropping of rocks there to find the benchmark 

and took a selfie.

After a few more minutes admiring the view, 

I started to make my way down the Summit Trail. The views coming down were nice, though different than those up top.

Back on the main Crosier Mountain Trail, I opted to hike down the Rainbow section and then the road back to my car. The next section of trail traversed through a very dense pine forest.

Occasional views opened up to the mountains to the west.

At the Rainbow Trail junction the trail descended quite steeply.

There were a few nice views to be had in the vicinity of Table Rock.

The downhill hiking went pretty quick. Before I knew it I was at the road. The road walk was a bit of a slog, but luckily the view of the river kept things interesting.

All in all it was a good hike. The Garden Gate section of trail was the most interesting in my opinion, with the lush meadows and ridge top views. I look forward to returning to hike the Glen Haven section of trail in the future.

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