2010 RUNNING & TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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  SCENES FROM COLORADO TRAIL SEG. 5:
LONG GULCH TO KENOSHA PASS

WEDNESDAY, JULY 14

 
"The first 12 miles of this segment roughly parallel the Lost Creek Road,
which can frequently be seen in the valley below. Then, towards the end,
spectacular views of South Park start to come into view. At the terminus of this
segment, there is an interpretive display describing the old Denver and South Park
Railroad switchyard, which graced Kenosha Pass until the early 1930s."
 
~ Colorado Trail Guidebook, 7th edition, p. 75
 
 
I more thoroughly described Segment 5 when I first ran and hiked this section of the Colorado Trail on August 23, 2006. I'll be more brief with the text here and focus more on photos from my hike on this trail today.


Cody follows Jim through the aspens at the Long Gulch end of this segment.

Except for the flowers, all the photos in this "virtual tour" are in order from east (Long Gulch) to west (Kenosha Pass), the direction the majority of CT point-to-pointers go. I've included mostly different views than I showed you four years ago.


My guys wait patiently while I take another picture.

Although this section isn't in my Top 5 for the twenty-eight CT segments it's very pleasant, mostly runnable, and easily accessible at the Kenosha Pass trailhead. In fact, while we're camped at the National Forest Service CG at the pass, the trailhead is less than a hundred yards from our door.

Can't get any more convenient than that.

That assumes you want to do an out-and-back run, hike, or ride (horse or bike) from the Kenosha Pass trailhead. To start or end at Long Gulch, 14.4 miles to the east, you have to drive out dirt-and-gravel Lost Creek Road. It's bumpy and narrow but scenic through the valley and doesn't require 4WD. There is a parking area about 1/10 mile off the road. A 2/10 mile trail accesses the CT.


There are several sections through pine forests. Note the yellow CT marker carved into the tree.
Newer trail markers are white plastic triangles with the dark green CT logo.


New growth


Fire damage?

Since Jim's running the 50-mile North Fork trail race in a few days he wasn't interested in doing all of Segment 5 today. I was. There is less elevation change at the Long Gulch end of this segment, so we rode together to the Long Gulch trailhead and he did an out-and-back run from there (total of about six miles), then drove the truck back to our camper at Kenosha Pass.

Cody and I kept going 14 miles . . . and very conveniently ended up back at our camper on foot.


One of many sunny meadows full of flowers along the way


Cinquefoil? Lots of these yellow flowering shrubs in Seg. 5.


Wild geraniums

Our buddy Bill H knew of our plans but didn't want to go to Long Gulch. He parked at Kenosha Pass and ran/hiked east about six miles until he "ran into" Cody and me. Then he walked back to camp with us.

We all had a good day on the trail!

TRAIL STATS AND CONDITIONS

The elevation at Long Gulch is 10,100 feet, only 100 feet higher than the elevation at Kenosha Pass. Don't for a minute think that it is flat for 14.4 miles! It's not killer, though; the total gain of approximately 1,540 feet and loss of 1,640 feet includes lots of ups and downs but most are fairly short and easy grades. Per our Garmin GPS, my lowest elevation today was 9,354 feet and the highest was 10,531 feet.

 

Above and below: the first glimpses of the Continental Divide in the distance

One of the reasons I like this trail segment is that much of it passes through the Lost Creek Wilderness and I don't have to worry about mountain bikers running Cody and me down. In the 6+ hours it took to hike it today, I didn't see any cyclists or equestrians. Besides Jim and Bill, I saw only one other person on the trail today, a CT thru-hiker who's also done the Appalachian Trail.

The trail was very dry and dusty today. It appears this area hasn't had much rain lately. There were numerous flowers along the way, however, and the leaves on trees and shrubs aren't wilted.

Here are some more flowers I enjoyed through the open meadows:


Wild rose (?) with insect

Above and below: the insects really like these flowers, too.

 


Distinctive sego lily


Center of sego lily, above (just playing around with PhotoShop filters!)

 

Temperatures today were pretty high, considering the elevation -- upper 70s. Just how high do we have to get to stay in the 60s??  Just kidding. Sure beats the high temps in many other places in the country, including Denver and Colorado Springs. We are probably going to be back in Colorado Springs next week. Hope it cools down some before we get there.

 

Much of the segment is shaded with beautiful pine forests and aspen groves. About a third of the trail passes through open meadows with great views, especially in the last four miles where you can see the large expanse of South Park and the jagged peaks along the Continental Divide (those photos are farther down this entry).

Above and below: two pretty valleys in the middle of the segment

 

As Cody and I walked along, I remembered most of the trail from six years ago. There were a few surprises, things I didn't remember, that made my hike more interesting.

The remaining photos are also in order going east to west:


Kinda straggly trees, but look at that bright blue sky, fluffy clouds, and smooth trail!


Pretty flowers and a closer view of the Continental Divide

 

Above and below:  you can see Lost Creek Road in the valley

 


Runner, hikers, and cyclists love this smooth part but the trail gets rockier ahead.
(We're out of the wilderness now.)

 


Starting to see more of South Park, the huge valley south and west of Kenosha Pass


Looking back to the Lost Creek Wilderness Area


Old stock "driveway" sign and a CT marker in the bark


Continental Divide in distance, but definitely getting closer


Livestock pond on a ranch in South Park

Above and below:  descending through aspen groves

 

Above and below:  almost to the Kenosha Pass trailhead

 


There are lots of pretty wildflowers near the trailhead and campground.

For more information about this segment, including tales about the "lost" stream and a lost cache of gold in the Lost Creek Wilderness Area, read what I wrote about it back in 2006 or do a web search. It fascinates me that there are still some unexplored places in this 120,000-acre wilderness.

Next entry:  hiking part of CT Segment 6 to Georgia Pass

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the Ultra Lab

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2010 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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