But I was enjoying myself so much through the varied terrain -- and so
curious about what was around the next bend and over the next hill -- that I kept
on going and completed a 7-mile loop!
Within the first couple miles
I remembered two things that enabled me to have a most enjoyable hike
without having to do any back-tracking:
The rest of the photos in this entry are ones I took going
counter-clockwise on the Mountain Lion Trail. Runners in all
three races ran (and walked) these miles.
So can you, any time you visit Golden Gate Canyon State
The Mountain Lion Trail is rated "difficult" but it doesn't require as
rock scrambling as the Black Bear and Coyote trails, both
rated "most difficult" (see photos in
last entry). Mountain Lion
is a multi-use trail that is also open to cyclists and
equestrians. I saw only one cyclist while I was out there. Jim
saw more in the race.
Climbing the trail above the parking area
There are lots of flowers blooming in
Trails vary from smooth like this to
Single-track morphs into double-track
through the pines and meadows.
With a scenic view around every bend, how
could I resist forward motion?
The trail follows creeks in the second and
The last smooth trail before the rockier
climb through a cool, lush valley along Deer Creek
I know there's an ultra running joke here
somewhere . . .
There are several back-country campsites
and a shelter in this shady area.
Now the trail gets rougher and passes some
cliffs and large rock formations:
After passing through a small green meadow, the trail climbs
steadily for half a mile through a dry pine forest on the north
side of Windy Peak:
At the top of this section of trail and down the other side
there are great views of Mt. Evans, nearby mountains, and Forgotten Valley:
After the intersection with the Buffalo Trail (the location of
AS #1/4 in the 50K race), the Mountain Lion Trail continues
south on double-track past the picturesque Tallman Ranch. Four
generations of Swedish-Americans lived and farmed in this
Colorado State Parks purchased the ranch in 1970 in order to
preserve it and prevent development. The property was added to
the State Register of Historic Places in 1995.
The rest of the images in this entry are from the last 2½
miles of the Mountain Lion Trail loop. Most of these shots are
looking backwards (counter-clockwise), opposite the direction
the runners were going.
Why? There were more mountains and
blue sky in that direction!
There are some burned or damaged trees after the intersection
with the Burro Trail (the loop trail leading to the summit of
Windy Peak late in the race). Rather than looking ugly, I
thought they added some additional color to the landscape! This
was a nice downhill section to the trailhead and finish of the
That's the grand tour of the Mountain Lion Trail. I really
enjoyed hiking it and would like to return to the
park someday to hike on some of
the other trails.
Next entry: now we're headed to the Bighorn Mountains in
northern Wyoming . . .
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
and Cody the Ultra Lab
© 2010 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil