Category Archives: Hiking Videos

HIKING BARR LAKE WILDLIFE REFUGE: Easy Walk to a Wealth of Animals

If you like easier hikes, this is a good summer to watch my Colorado hiking videos. In January, I had surgery to remove part of a herniated disc that put pressure on my spine, but not before it damaged the nerves in my left foot. I expect to get my strength back, but nerves can take up to a year to re-grow. So for now, I’m discovering that flat or rolling hikes are not only easier on a weak foot, but can also be a delight to the eye. Case in point: Barr Lake WIldlife Refuge, where my husband Dale and I went on Monday, and saw more animals than we usually see on our hikes.

Barr Lake State Park is only 40 minutes from Denver, yet it’s a trip into the wild. We saw: deer, herons, egrets, pelicans, rabbits, red winged blackbirds, and many sherbet-colored birds we couldn’t identify. If you don’t go during the hottest part of the day like we did, you might also see: badgers, foxes, bald eagles, falcons, and hawks. All that and more on a flat, three-mile round-trip from the Nature Center to the Gazebo, including boardwalks and nature blinds.

To visit Barr Lake from Denver: take I-76 east 16.8 miles to Bromley Lane, turn right onto Bromley/East 152nd, go about 1 mile to Picadilly Road and turn right again. In 2 miles, you’ll see the entrance on the right. A day pass for your car is $7. Don’t forget binoculars, to get a closer look at animals like the ones in this video. Keep your eye out for the killdeer that plays dead to lure us from her nest:

Hiking Barr Lake Wildlife Refuge from Cara Lopez Lee on Vimeo.

HIKING HERMAN GULCH TO THE CITADEL – A Thirteener Just Off Colorado’s I-70

I prefer hiking Colorado’s thirteeners (13,000-foot-peaks) to its fourteeners, because they’re less crowded with peak baggers, yet equally beautiful and often just as challenging. The Herman Gulch trail to The Citadel kicked my butt, and I loved every moment. I was surprised to discover such a wild and untamed jewel so close to I-70.

Many hikers stop at Herman Lake, below Pettingell Peak. But after that it keeps getting better, as the jagged towers of The Citadel appear. The eight-mile round-trip hike took longer than my husband Dale and I anticipated, so I only made it to a patch of high rock just below the twin summits. Even from there, I had a stunning view of the Continental Divide. I plan to return to conquer both peaks.

It’s easy to drive to the Herman Gulch Trail from the Denver area. Take I-70 West and get off at exit 218, the next exit after Bakerville. Bear right on the .1 mile service road, which dead-ends at the trailhead. Here’s what you’ll see when you hit the trail:

Hiking Herman Gulch to The Citadel – near Bakerville, Colorado from Cara Lopez Lee on Vimeo.

HIKING BRIDAL VEIL FALLS – Rocky Mountain National Park, near Estes Park, Colorado

Do you have a thing for waterfalls? If you’ve read my memoir, you know that my favorite hikes embrace “many waters and signs of water.” Bridal Veil Falls fits that description, and it’s as romantic a sight as the name promises. It’s more like many veils, trailing one into another. My husband and I enjoyed a picnic there last September. It was really just lunch pulled out of our backpacks, but the setting made it a picnic, a glorious feast for the eyes and ears. We needed real grub for our mouths, too – the hike is relatively easy, but it is six miles round-trip.

Bridal Veil Falls is just outside Estes Park in northeast Rocky Mountain National Park. Don’t worry, you don’t have to pay a fee. From Estes Park, head north on Devils Gulch Road for four miles, then bear left on McGraw Ranch Road for 2.1 miles to the Cow Creek Trailhead. I suggest going early, because parking is very limited and fills early. Take the Cow Creek Trail, which starts as a gravel road through the ranch’s research facility, empties into a meadow, then narrows into a single track that loosely follows the creek. Most of the hike is low and rolling, leading to a steep uphill push to the falls. When you think you’ve reached the falls, don’t stop – that’s only the beginning, as you’ll see in this video:

HIKING MOUNT SANITAS – Boulder, Colorado Open Space & Mountain Parks

When I don’t have time for a long drive or stamina for an all-day hike, but I still want to get away somewhere pretty and enjoy a little workout, I almost always end up on a trail in Boulder. The three-mile Mount Sanitas Loop is close to downtown, but its lovely views encompass plains, foothills, and a glimpse of the snow-capped giants of the Rocky Mountains. It’s a pleasant, if hot and breathless, way to get up-close and personal with rock and sky, and watch civilization become far and wee.

It’s easy to find the Mount Sanitas trail: in Boulder, take Broadway to Mapleton Road and turn west. The trailhead is a few blocks up, just past the Mapleton Medical Center. You’ll pass the trailhead and roadside parking on the right. But I recommend parking in the lot at the Centennial trailhead, just a stone’s throw up the road on the left. From there, a dirt path takes you back to the Mount Sanitas trailhead, as you’ll see at the beginning of this video of the hike my husband Dale and I did this summer:

HIKING TO HEART LAKE: James Peak Wilderness, near Rollinsville, Colorado

A couple of weeks ago, my husband Dale and I went on my favorite Colorado hike. It’s an 8.4 mile roundtrip up the South Boulder Creek Trail to the creek’s headwaters at Rogers Pass Lake, and then on over a small saddle to Heart Lake. Thanks to record snowfall this past winter, this summer’s wildflowers have been more plentiful than ever – and in the James Peak Wilderness that’s saying something. In fact, this hike has all my favorite features: lively streams and waterfalls, prolific flowers, an uphill workout that’s not a painful trudge, a combination of shady trails and sunny meadows, craggy mountains circling glacial blue lakes, and nary a view of town or road.

The trail starts at the East Portal of The Moffat Tunnel at about 9,211 feet and climbs to 11,310 feet. To reach the trailhead, take Rollins Pass Road west from highway 72 at Rollinsville. The 8.2-mile dirt road dead-ends at the tunnel. Check out this two-and-a-half-minute video to see why it’s worth the trip:

Hiking to Heart Lake – James Peak Wilderness, near Rollinsville, Colorado from Cara Lopez Lee on Vimeo.

HIKING MAYHEM GULCH: Centennial Cone Park, near Golden, Colorado

I’ve had such a busy summer, I’ve grown adept at finding hikes that get me out of Denver without taking all day. It was the name of this little trail in Centennial Cone Park that grabbed me: Mayhem Gulch. The name is misleading; the trail is reasonably tame, despite an uphill slog at the start. My husband, Dale, and I walked the 4.5 mile loop. If you go on a weekend, be aware of one unusual rule: on Saturday and Sunday, the park is restricted to mountain bikers on even days and hikers on odd days. The trail starts next to the highway between Golden and Black Hawk, but as you’ll see in this video, the backside offers a respite that will take your city blues away:

Hiking Mayhem Gulch – Centennial Cone Park, near Golden, Colorado from Cara Lopez Lee on Vimeo.

HIKING TO BLUE LAKE: Brainard Lake Recreation Area, Colorado

The summer hiking season is winding down, but it’s still easy to enjoy some great trails well into fall. If you live or travel in the Denver area, you might want to consider one of the hikes I’ve done lately in Colorado’s high country.

When I’m not interested in researching new options, but simply looking for a no-brainer that will deliver a gorgeous day hike, I head to Brainard Lake Recreation Area near the tiny town of Ward. There’s a $9 entry fee, but considering the many trails my husband Dale and I enjoy for free, we don’t mind paying now and then. Below is a look at what our nine bucks bought us on the five-mile round trip walk to Blue Lake:

Hiking to Blue Lake from Cara Lopez Lee on Vimeo.