Emmaline Lake

An excellent hike in Pingree Park takes you to an amazing area high in the Northern Colorado Rockies.

This excellent hike in Pingree Park takes you to some amazing lakes high in the Northern Colorado Rockies. It is 5.7 miles one way from the trailhead. Emmaline Lake is incredibly scenic and takes about a day for most people (even if you’re faster, you’ll want to take the whole day and explore). At and near the top, you are surrounded on three sides by the high mountain ridges of Comanche Peak and Fall Mountain. There are ways to the top, but they almost all require some scrambling. There are multiple little ponds, large rocks to climb on and explore, and it’s overall a nice little area that is kinda fun to spend a day.

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Mt. of the Holy Cross

The Halo Ridge route is challenging but rewarding. It offers the best views a hike on the Mt. of the Holy Cross can offer.

One of the lowest 14ers in elevation, at 14,011 ft (USGS), Mt. of the Holy Cross is a challenge as well as a spectacle. It is such named due to the cross-shaped snowfield on the northeast face. The first recorded ascent of the mountain was in 1873, but it is very likely to have been previously ascended by Native Americans or mining prospectors. Holy Cross is the highest peak in the northern Sawatch Range.

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Mt. of the Holy Cross (rightmost peak), viewed from Notch Mountain. The snow which forms the cross is clearly visible.

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171 Network

The Swamp Creek area offers a plethora of choices for offroading, camping, and shooting. Make no mistake, there are often RVs, generators, shooting, and people riding OHVs. For a drunken weekend in the hills the area is perfect.

Forest Road 171 is just south of Red Feather Lakes and offers plenty of recreational opportunities. Geographically, the area in which the 171 network of roads is located is in the Swamp Creek drainage. FR 171 is actually a loop back towards the main road from which it starts, County Road 69/Manhattan Road. 171 also has numerous spurs and branches, indicated by letters and hence the “network” designation. All spurs are accessible by the parent, nonlettered 171 road, but not all spurs provide access to other spurs (though some do).

This whole area offers a plethora of choices for offroading, camping, and shooting. Hiking is comparatively limited but for a drunken weekend in the hills this area is perfect. You are less than 15 minutes from the town of Red Feather Lakes, which has reliable cell service, two general stores, a sporting goods store, restaurants, a coffee shop, and a hardware store.

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Motor Vehicle Use Map (MVUM) of the 171 network

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Sevenmile Road, Larimer County, CO

This offroad trail is a fun way to get into the 171 network and off the main roads sooner. There are creek crossings and challenging rocks. Not for the everyday sedan.

This offroad trail is a fun way to get into the 171 network and off the main roads sooner. It isn’t really that technical, but there are several sections which might prove tricky for lower clearance vehicles and/or require four wheel drive. There are several creek crossings, as well as a portion of the trail which runs through Sevenmile Creek. Note: there is another “Sevenmile Creek Road” in Chaffee County, which is completely different, obviously.

Most of the road is narrow but very passable
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Arkansas River Valley

The whole area offers am endless amount of dispersed campsites, offroad routes, day use areas, and river access. Buena Vista and Salida provide the valley with the oasis of civilization.

The vast expanse that is the Arkansas River Valley is also notably cozy. On the south end, you have the town of Salida. In the middle, you have Buena Vista. At Buena Vista, highway 24 splits northbound towards Leadville, Minturn and I-70, while U.S. 285 heads south to Salida, Alamosa, and ultimately through New Mexico and Texas. North of Buena Vista, U.S. 24 and the valley climbs in elevation towards Leadville.

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Storm Mountain

At the top of Storm Mountain, you’ve got a panoramic view of all major metropolitan areas of Northern Colorado. And to the west you have a panoramic view of the Front Range mountains in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Amazing views, 30 minutes from town, with a steep and rocky road in between.

At the top of Storm Mountain, you’ve got a panoramic view of the northern Front Range. You can see Loveland, Fort Collins, Wellington, Longmont, and beyond. Storm Mountain is accessible via U.S. 34 and Drake. Storm Mountain Rd. starts as a paved, steep, switchbacked road shortly after the turn towards Glen Haven from Drake. The first few miles are residential and lined by private property. Then you get into national forest land. 

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St. Elmo

Today, Hancock pass and sister passes nearby are still passable to Gunnison by offroad vehicles, hiking, or biking.

This was a winter time snowshoeing trip, in which we followed the old road towards Hancock pass.

The St. Elmo general store is closed in winter

St. Elmo has a ton of history, in fact that is its main attraction today. It was originally a mining town and a stop for the Denver, South Park, and Pacific railway. At its peak in the late 1890’s, there were five hotels, several saloons and dance halls, a telegraph office, post office, general store, a school, and a local newspaper.

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Gateway, CO – Uravan, CO

State Highway 141 is a scenic byway following the Dolores River. Gateway, CO is the backcountry gateway to Moab, UT via the La Sal Mountains.

The town of Gateway, CO is unique because it’s nestled less than 10 miles from the Colorado-Utah border. It is the location of the eastern termini of two backcountry 4×4 routes to Moab, UT. It is about 50 miles southwest of Grand Junction. Gateway is on Colorado State Highway 141 (SH-141), roughly where it meets the Dolores River, on the northwest side of the Uncompaghre Plateau.

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In the parking lot of the general store
Gateway is a classic small town, with small town vibes. Although the town contains a couple tourist attractions, it hardly feels like a tourist trap. In fact, you’ll be hard-pressed to encounter a lot of traffic at all along SH-141. There is a general store (pictured above), with gas pumps, restrooms, drinks and snacks. During the summer time, there is also a food truck that operates in the parking lot of the general store. Most will make a pit-stop at the general store before continuing their journey.

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