Thursday, September 18, 2014

Great Autumn Day Hikes, Easily Accessible to Front Rangers

The view from one of the front range's finest day hikes

Autumn in Colorado is known for a few things; proliferating yoga pants, pumpkin beer/coffee/food, and the striking phenomena of leaves changing colors. You can see it in the high country to the front rage, and even to the east somewhat if you are lucky. This is the season where afterwork trail runs and hikes are being cut short by darkness, and frost on car windows and grass is becoming more common. When the fresh, chilly autumn air begins to hit Colorado, there is a striking change that comes over the state, beyond just seasons and colors. While we may still have a handful of days in the 90’s, this is the perfect time to seize optimal temperatures for lower-elevation hikes.

Changing leaves in the midsts of evergreen

With an overflowing pool of options, this past week I decided to spend the day exploring the trails off of the Hessie Trailhead. Located only a few miles out of Nederland, these trails, which hug and penetrate the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area, are great for day trippers from the city. 

With multiple trails starting from Hessie, the most popular is Lost Lake. The trail is less than 3 miles from start to finish, and offers a ton of pistes boasting views of the surrounding valley or moving water. Be warned, this is a favorite amongst those in Ned, as well as Boulder, Denver, and the surrounding areas. Weekend hikes are synonymous with packed trails.

The approach to the Hessie Trailhead

For those looking for a longer and more arduous jaunt, Hessie Trailhead is also the starting point for hikes to a multitude of lakes, with some of the most popular being Woodland, Skyscraper, King's, and Devil's Thumb. Most of these hikes run at a minimum of 8 miles for out and back, as well as posting heavy inclines. The reward, of course, is breathtaking views and lonelier trails. 

Lost Lake at its finest

The first glimpse of Woodland Lake

Woodland Lake, a 9.1 mile hike

As the leaves are already changing, it may be time to cash in one of your sick days in exchange for a intimate glimpse of the fiery reds and oranges, intermixed with fleeting green. Remember, the days aren't getting any longer, and the leaves don't wait for anyone. Before you know it, the trails may be barren and snow covered, at least until the next unexpected warm patch. 

Photos Courtesy of Author

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