Lumberjack Loop | Colorado | 04/11/20

Lumberjack Loop | Lory State Park & Horsetooth Mountain Open Space

Portions of  the Mill Creek, Loggers, Sawmill, and South Valley Trails

Bellvue, CO | 04/11/20| 6.04 miles | 1,012′ gain


(Okay, I totally made up the name of this loop, but with trail names like Mill Creek, Loggers, and Sawmill, it should be expected that I’d think of lumberjacks!)

Some of the larger parks near me have so many trails that it’s taken quite a bit of thinking and studying maps to figure out the best way to visit each of these trails. (If I could walk/run/bike 15-20 miles per day, this might be easier haha!) One of my ideas looped in a handful of trails in both Lory State Park and Horsetooth Mountain Open Space.

South Valley Trail

I parked at the Arthur’s Rock Trailhead in Lory State Park. Since I’d already purchased an annual state park pass, I avoided day use fees. The crowds headed toward Arthur’s Rock (probably the busiest trail in the park) and I headed south on the South Valley Trail. After about 1/4 mile I turned west on the Mill Creek Trail.

Springbeauty (Claytonia rosea)

The South Valley Trail is very gradual and slowly wraps around the south half of Lory State Park’s large valley. I was surprised to see an equine jumping course as it’s not labeled on the trail map.

Equine jumping course
Mill Creek Trail

The Mill Creek Trail ascends quickly into the foothills, heading for Horsetooth Mountain Open Space where it continues for three more miles.

The South Valley Trail continues below and wraps around the valley.
Arthur’s Rock
First view of Horsetooth Reservoir

After travelling through the forest for a little while, the trail made its way down to a small stream. I at first thought that this was Mill Creek, but then the trail switchbacked up and back down to a bigger (but still small) stream. I realized that this was Mill Creek.

Heading down to Mill Creek, you can see the trail on the other side!
A small waterfall on a very small Mill Creek

I stopped for a quick snack break next to the stream and then hiked upwards once again. There is a lot of up and down on the Mill Creek Trail. As I climbed higher, there were a few moments where I could see out of the forest and across to Horsetooth Reservoir and Fort Collins beyond.

Horsetooth Reservoir

I soon reached an intersection with the Loggers Trail and turned off Mill Creek. This trail looked like it could have been an old logging road. I wondered how much logging took place in this area…apparently enough to name trails after it!

Loggers Trail
Signs of recent logging along the Loggers Trail
An old shack along the Sawmill Trail

Once I turned on the Sawmill Trail and saw the old shack, I hoped I’d see a sawmill too, but no such luck. The Sawmill Trail descends out of the foothills and heads back into the valley, connecting with the South Valley Trail at its most southern point. I was thankful to finally be done with the uphill!

Nuttall’s Violet (Viola nuttallii)
Quarry Cove
Can you see the mule deer?
Almost back to the valley
A very twisty Sawmill Trail finally reaches the valley.
I wonder who is missing this?

Once back in the valley, I could see the trailhead in the distance…up on a hill. Wait, I thought the valley was flat!?

American Licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota)
Pasqueflower (Anemone patens)
Wavyleaf Dandelion (Nothocalais cuspidata)

Even though I had to ascend a bit to get back to the car, it was very gradual and there were plenty of flowers to keep me busy.

Colorful lichen, looked like paint splatters!
Sand Lily (Leucocrinum montanum)
A rider shows off for me, very cool to watch!

As I neared the parking lot, people were swarming. Just in time for me to leave!


23 thoughts on “Lumberjack Loop | Colorado | 04/11/20

      1. It is set to let folks like us become Citizen Scientists. As a Texas Master Naturalist, I use it frequently to, first, identify the flora, fauna, or fowl that I see, and, secondly, to assist scientists’ data bases for research. You would be very good at being a Citizen Scientist. Cheers.


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