Moose Meadow Trail to Brown Homestead | Hermit Park Open Space
Estes Park, CO | 05/21/20| 4.84 miles | 629′ gain
Hermit Park Open Space is criss-crossed by various forested trails, most popular of which is the Kruger Rock Trail. But I’m not one to visit a park just for the most well known trail, I want to check out the lesser traveled paths as well. I want to see the far corners that not as many people take the time to see. It might take me years to return and hike the remaining trails, but I’ll eventually find my way back.
It was just one of those days that I needed to clock out early and go for an afternoon hike. Springtime was in full swing and I was itching to get out in the sun. I needed something both close to home and relatively short, and the Moose Meadow Trail seemed perfect. Hermit Park has a $9 day use fee and after paying that I made my way to the Homestead Meadows Trailhead. I followed the Moose Meadow Trail along the edge of what I can only assume is Moose Meadow. The trail popped into and out of the forest as it traveled along the meadow. Sadly, the moose seemed to be elsewhere during my visit.
The forest was covered in springtime’s earliest arrival, the pasqueflower.
Eventually the trail reaches the end of the meadow and plunges into the forest, beginning an uphill climb. The Moose Meadow Trail switchbacks up a hillside, offering a few overlooks before intersecting with the Limber Pine Trail and Homestead Meadows Trail. I took pictures of every flower I saw, happy that spring had finally arrived.
I reached the trail intersection after 1.1 miles and had to make a decision about what to do next. I’d originally planned on turning around here, but I still had plenty of time so decided to continue on the Homestead Meadows Trail. I didn’t have phone service to check, but if I remembered correctly, the nearest homestead wasn’t all that far away. I decided to continue hiking to see if I could make it, and if not, then I’d just come back another time.
The Homestead Meadows Trail heads down into and then out of a forested drainage. It joins an old forest service road (possibly the road the homesteaders used to access their property) and continues into the National Forest (no longer in Hermit Park Open Space). I’d visited Homestead Meadows a handful of other times, always accessing from the Lion Gulch Trail. I was excited to see a new homestead from a new section of trail!
The trail exited the forest and we arrived at the Brown Homestead, only 2.4 miles from the trailhead. Sadly, the historical signage was missing (either stolen/vandalized or destroyed by the elements) so I wasn’t able to learn about the Brown family. Though it’s not hard to imagine why someone would want to make a life here, albeit a difficult one.
I spent a few minutes exploring the ruins and remaining artifacts while Otis wallowed in the muddy spring.
Every time I visit historical places like Homestead Meadows, I am always in awe and can’t help but try to picture what life would have been like. What a beautiful area to live, and I am thankful that I am able to visit.
I’d considered creating a loop by following the Limber Pine Trail, but it was getting late so I decided to retrace my steps on the Moose Meadow Trail as it was a bit shorter. Still a great afternoon hike!