Family Hikes

Posted in Family with tags outdoors , hikes , Colorado -

Last summer when we moved to CO, we weren’t very busy initially, so we took the opportunity to explore our great new state. This summer, after track has ended and we’ve buttoned up most of our backlog of home improvements, we have decided to do the same thing.

Two weekends ago we went to Frisco for the weekend with Maylee and Steve. While there we stayed at a hotel, did a little shopping, visited three breweries (yeah), but the main event was a 20 mile bike ride, 10 miles each way between Frisco and Breckenridge. It was really a lot of fun, and the kids did really well, particularly Quinton who biked it all under his own power and didn’t complain a single time! Mireille was biking in her own way behind my bike, even peddling (the wrong way) from time to time. It was a lot of fun, but we were all very tired when we were done.

This past weekend was free again and we decided to try our hands at another hike in the area. Having recently joined the AllTrails website, we found a couple mile hike near Boulder, a city that we haven’t yet explored. After looking at different options, we landed on a hike at El Dorado Canyon State Park just outside of Superior and near Boulder. Apparently it is one of the 10 “must see state parks” in the nation!

By the time we finished breakfast and woke all the kids up, we finally arrived at the park around 10:30 - it was already starting to get warm! To get to the park you have to travel through El Dorado, CO, a really small town with a single unpaved road going through it. When we finally made it to the park entrance, we were about 5 cars back. There was a sign stating that the park was “reaching capacity,” so we were a bit worried. When we got to the front to pay, the ranger told us that he was holding people at the front while the park ranger counted cars. Great… Luckily we were only stopped for about 2 minutes before they found some parking spots, but the point was well taken - it is a popular park.

Our planned hike took us from the bottom lot, along the roaring creek, and up the trail to an abandoned hotel and an overlook of the Continental Divide. We had lots of water and some snacks packed. It was a beautiful day for a hike!

Mireille was the lone rider of this trip. At almost 40 pounds, this is probably one of the last opportunities to do a more challenging hike until she is old enough make her own way up the trail. You see, all hikes in CO seem to involve a sizable incline, at least to start with (or, I would imagine, to finish with). This was a HARD hike for me!

Mireille's ready for the hike!

Creek at the bottom of the hike.

The boys are ready

Our parking spot was at the “bottom restrooms,” basically right as you get into the park. Which is fine, but it turned out we had about a 0.75 mile hike just to get to the trailhead, and it was uphill itself! It was actually nice because that portion had some excellent views of the creek and views of the many rock climbers that take advantage of the park as well.

Finally, the trail head!

Mireille and her Sherpa

Trail markers

About 20 minutes into the trail portion of the hike, I was TIRED!!! Uphill, in the sun, with a 40 pound kid on my back! We stopped frequently for water and shade breaks.

The trail was a little rough, and steep!

After what was touted as a 1.2 mile hike, we arrived at the abandoned hotel. Honestly I was thinking there would be more to it. For the most part it was just a sign and some stone foundation bits here and there. No matter, it meant the incline was DONE!!!

Remains of a hotel...

Quinton and I disappeared, Goonies style, to a corner of the hotel area to hit the “men’s room.” Mireille caught wind of this and decided she also wanted to go to the bathroom. So I took her over near the “men’s room” and removed her clothes from the waist down. She thought it was hilarious. I tried to convince her that she could do it, but in the end she just giggled and didn’t finish the deal.

Photo looking down

Just above and beyond the hotel was an overlook of the Continental Divide. Since we were almost there anyway, we continued on to this outlook where we were able to convince a kind stranger to take our picture.

Would be Christmas card if Mireille were smiling!

Ethan gazes on the Continental Divide

After the hike we were all very tired, but we had already planned to do an “Urban Hike” in Boulder. It was nearly 3:00 by the time we got there, and since nobody had eaten since breakfast, we had some CRABBY people. I wanted to hit the Mountain Sun brewery, but we had parked on the south end of the Pearl Street Mall, the opposite side of the mall. So we had to make a quick plan change and ended up at the Walnut Brewery on the south west end of the mall. Good choice! The food was good, and the beer even better.

Urban Hike afterwards - we were tired!

After satiating our hunger, we decided to check out the mall. Man, Boulder is weird! We encountered many street performers, the one pictured below didn’t really seem to have a skill or a point to his show. He went on for 20 minutes before he finally had somebody tie him up in a straight jacket and he escaped from it. We saw a lot of Hari Krishna’s, which I didn’t even know was still a thing! I was surprised that I wasn’t approached by any Scientologists. All in all, we came away with confidence in our choice of Aurora despite all the great things we’d heard of the foothills.

Street performer

Our family hikes are pretty cool events. I look forward to them every time we do them. We’re hoping the next couple of weekends before fall soccer starts up will yield more good memories from the Rocky Mountain area.

Written by Brandon Grady
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