Hall Ranch Loop | Colorado | 06/07/19


Hall Ranch Loop | Main Trailhead | Hall Ranch Open Space

Lyons, CO | 06/07/19 | 9.87 miles | 1,536′ gain | Class 2


Ahh, back in Colorado at last! Wisconsin was so much fun but it’s always great to get back home. I missed my bed, my dogs, and my routine. And of course I was ready to get out into the mountains again.

First up on the hiking agenda was Hall Ranch Open Space. I’d been to this park many years ago when I had a summer internship in Colorado. (And interestingly enough, it popped up in my Facebook memories a few days after this hike. 7 years ago, wow!) This time I would take the Bitterbrush Trail to the Nelson Loop, head over to see the homestead, then take the Nighthawk Trail back to the trailhead. AllTrails listed this loop as being less than 9 miles, so I was confident I could crank it out in 4 hours and still be able to go to work for a few hours in the afternoon.

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Trailhead views. Indian Lookout Mountain (left) and Hat Rock (right).

I set out on the Bitterbrush Trail, a wide multi-use trail that was very easy to follow. Since it was a Friday, Hall Ranch wasn’t terribly busy, but on the weekends, the park can be packed. It might not have been busy, but it sure was HOT!

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Bitterbrush Trail

It’s been a very wet spring and the wildflowers showed their appreciation with their vibrant colors. I have a number of species pictured below but that’s probably only half of the total species I saw blooming.

If I wasn’t stopping to take a picture of yet another flower, I was stopping to let a biker pass. The trail wasn’t all that steep, but it sure seemed to take forever with all the stopping! After steeper sections, the trail would always kindly flatten out for a while to give a nice break.

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Bitterbrush Trail
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Views from the Bitterbrush Trail
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Antelope Park and the site of the highest elevation (6200′) prairie dog town in Boulder County.
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Looking back at Indian Lookout Mountain
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Prairie Dog Town
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Views along the Bitterbrush Trail

After nearly 4 miles on the Bitterbrush Trail, I reached the intersection with the Nelson Loop Trail. I took a left as I knew that would take me to the homestead.

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Nelson Loop and homestead

I took the side trail to see the homestead. This homestead and land was ranched by numerous families, most notably the Nelson and Hall families.

After a quick detour, I continued along the Nelson Loop until I reached the Nighthawk Trail. I took that all the way back to the trailhead. It was fun to experience a new trail on the way back!

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Longs Peak & Mount Meeker from the Nighthawk Trail

I reached my high point along the Nighthawk Trail, and shortly after caught a glimpse of Indian Lookout Mountain. WOW, I have a long way to go to get back to the car!

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Indian Lookout Mountain from the Nighthawk Trail

Most of the trail so far had been out in the open, but parts of the Nighthawk Trail were forested.

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Nighthawk Trail

As I walked, I felt a few raindrops. And then a few more. And then it was pouring. I stopped to put my DSLR away and put on my raincoat.

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Storms rolling in

Just as soon as it started raining, the sun came back out. I watched Indian Lookout Mountain as I walked, but it STILL seemed far away. As I descended the steep Nighthawk Trail, I wondered if the trail was really only 8.9 miles…

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Looking down on the Nighthawk Trail

I stopped to check my GPS and I’d already gone 7.8 miles. There is NO way I was only a mile from the trailhead. And it turns out I was still TWO miles away! My feet hurt (those darn foot issues keep me from walking too far) and I wasn’t thrilled about the extra mile. I sat down for a minute. I literally didn’t have another option. I HAVE to walk out…

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I didn’t know there were dung beetles in Colorado but these friends working together made me giggle.

After a short rest, I did my best to ignore my feet and just kept walking until I eventually made it back to the trailhead, nearly 10 miles and 4.5 hours later.  A little longer than expected but I still had plenty of time to get to work!


Chelsea


 

21 thoughts on “Hall Ranch Loop | Colorado | 06/07/19

  1. BIT|Hiker 65

    Beautiful! I just posted about the Sleepy Lion Trail just outside of Hall Ranch. Also, thank you, thank you, thank you for posting the species of wildflowers! I spend a lot of time researching the flowers (and other things) that I post because I love seeing that on other blogs.

    Like

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