Get out there and explore some of the great hiking in Grand County. It’s a great way to check out some of the natural beauty of Winter Park and the surrounding area, plus it’s just good for the soul!!
Here are some important tips to remember before you head out:
1. Always be prepared for bad weather. The weather in the mountains can change very quickly. Dress in layers and make sure that you have a rain coat. Also, it is best to go in the morning, as most storms tend to come in the early afternoon.
2. Drink plenty of water. Hydrate before you go and then pack more than you think you will need for the trip. Bad weather or a wrong turn can turn a hike that normally takes a couple of hours into an all day event.
3. Lube up with sunscreen. Use it before you head out on the trail, and most importantly bring some with you and DON’T FORGET TO REAPPLY!. A hat with a brim and sunglasses are good ideas as well.
4. Bring a First Aid Kit. It doesn’t need to be anything fancy, but some moleskin for blisters, some Band-Aids, antiseptic and some aspirin are things that you may be very happy to have in your pack! Matches and a jack knife may be useful as well.
5. Pack a map. It may come in handy if you loose your way.
6. Don’t forget, that you are “Up There”. Most of the hikes in Grand County start at 7,000 feet and above. Altitude Sickness can be very serious and has nothing to do with physical condition. Even the most elite athletes are not immune to it. If you start to feel dizzy, disoriented, and/or nauseous, return to lower elevation. If this does not help with your symptoms, seek medical attention.
7. Don’t go it alone! Always have a hiking buddy. That way if something goes wrong you have some help, and besides, it’s always more fun to hike with someone!!
One of my favorite trails in Grand County is Columbine Lake (also known as Junco Lake). It is a moderate 2.86 miles, that will take you about 1.5 hours one way. Along the way you will see some amazing wild flowers and a waterfall or two, and you end up at one of the most beautifully pristine Mt Lakes in Colorado. Bring your furry four legged friend too, but make sure he is on a leash!
Directions to Columbine Lake Trail:
Drive on US Highway 40 to County Road 84. Turn off at the Devil’s Thumb Ranch turnoff. Drive over the Fraser River and take the left fork of the road, County Road 84. Continue for about 9 miles, following signs for Meadow Creek Reservoir. Continue around the east side of the reservoir for about 3 miles until a road forking to the left is reached. Follow this road for a short distance to the Junco Lake Trailhead parking area.