Hiking to Horsetooth Falls

April 25, 2010 at 5:38 pm

With me being pregnant (yes, I can officially announce it now at 13 weeks), our weekends have slowed down dramatically. If I can make it outside at all, we’re looking for short, fun hikes and the trip up to Horsetooth Falls fit the bill. As Mark and I pulled up to the (very nice, new, expanded) parking area, clouds were gathering overhead, and a few rain drops spattered on our windsheild.

The hike winds along the middle of Horsetooth mountain, and follows a creek up to the falls. As we were walking, I stopped to photograph a dozen different types of lovely early spring wildflowers that were blooming along the trail.

Horsetooth Mountain Wildflowers

We actually came to a little bridge over the creek and a nice view of a fairly tall cataract in the creek. Mark and I were not expecting much from the falls, so we assumed this must be it. Mark snacked and read his book, while I scrambled around wet, slimy rocks taking photos of this nice little water fall.

Cataracts on the creek flowing down the mountain

Springtime mountain waterfalls

After a few minutes, we noticed that several other groups had hiked right past us and these “falls”, so we decided to see if there was something more interesting further down the trail. Indeed, there was!

Horsetooth Falls

When we arrived at the falls, they were much more lovely and dramatic than I had expected. Water rushed over a pink granite cliff line, and plunged into a pool 30ft below. I have heard these falls aren’t much more than a trickle through the summer and fall, but this spring, after all of our rain and snow, the falls were running thick and beautifully.

Horsetooth falls

Kate and Mark at the falls

We admired (read: photographed) the actual falls for another 10 minutes. As we did, a cold wind picked up and the temperature started dropping. We debated continuing on this trail for another mile and looping back through a different trail system, but decided the smart thing to do was to head back to the car before the rain started really coming down.

Interesting clouds blowing by

We made it home dry, happy, and refreshed. And I can recommend Horsetooth Falls as a nice family hike, especially in a wet spring.

Walking slowly through Lory State Park

April 11, 2010 at 1:05 pm

It’s early spring in Northern Colorado, and I am as sick as I’ve ever been. It’s a struggle to make it into work each morning, and I find my weekends filled with hours and hours of laying on the couch, trying not to vomit. Despite my nausea and malaise, the northern hemisphere has been slowly warming, the grass is greening along the Front Range, and the beautiful stone of Colorado is quietly transforming into its springtime beauty.

Last year's blooms still hanging on

Of course, I’m in no shape to climb. Mark isn’t much better off, as he had a bout of Salmonella poisoning (AFTER we got back from Thailand) that knocked him on his butt for two weeks. A month goes by and we barely get outside enough to walk the dog.

Finally, we just can’t stand it any more. We pack up some water, tissues, lots of snacks and the camera and go find the easiest hike we can. It happens to be in Lory State Park.

The Front Range

We pull into the park around 1p, and the sun is shining brilliantly. We pay the $6 vehicle fee (ouch) and park at a low trailhead, near what looks to be a new dirt-bike park. We decide the low-altitude, nearly flat, east valley trail is the best one for us today, and set out at a slow pace.

We both brought warm fleece jackets, but end up hiking in our shirt sleeves. There are boats out on the reservoir, and we watch as fishermen yell at party-boaters for blasting crappy dance music too loud. Liv chases small rodents between yuccas, and I take a ton of pictures. We meet a few other hikers, dogs and horse-riders out on the trail, but mostly the afternoon is quiet, calm and peaceful.

Mark enjoys the warm afternoon

After a mile or so, we decide to start heading back. Mark wants to turn the walk into a loop, so we cross the road and connect up to the West Valley trail. We follow this for maybe half a mile (past a rowdy group of picnic’ers) and then head back towards our trailhead. Only, we’re not quite as close as I thought, and when I realize how much further I have to walk, I bail. I find a nice picnic table in the sun, lay down, and wait for Mark to go get the car and pick me up.

Not the stunning conclusion to the amazing adventures that we have been blessed with over the years, for sure. But we get outside, we get a little sun and fresh air, and I get a few nice pictures.