Colorado Hike : Eldorado Canyon State Park

We love to go hiking, and every once in a while we share our adventures on the blog. If you would like to see more hiking posts, click here.

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Last week a friend tipped us off to the awesomeness that is Eldorado Canyon State Park, in particular, Fowler Trail. As an active 2.5-year-old, Alex is really excited to get outside and do whatever we’re doing. Translating this to hiking, it means that he’s much happier walking along with us than riding in the backpack. Unfortunately, his little legs get tired fairly quickly, so I’m always on the hunt for trails that are not that steep or long. Fortunately, Fowler trail is both short* and relatively flat! As you’ll see in the photos, it also provides outstanding views of canyon walls filled with climbers, making it extra exciting for our little adventurer. One look at the climbers and he exclaimed, “wow, that’s wild!”.

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Colorado Hike : Chautauqua Park

We love to get out for hikes as often as possible and thought it would be fun to document these little adventures, like our recent trip to Maroon Bells.

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Last weekend we decided to stay close to home, wanting to explore more of what Boulder has to offer, so for our weekend hike, we headed to Chautauqua Park (pronounced with a soft “shhh” for the CH – I’m still getting the hang of it!). Chautauqua was one of the older open space areas purchased by the city over 100 years ago when it began preserving wild lands. The park is home to the Colorado Chautauqua  Association, which provides cultural and educational programs throughout the year. Among its many buildings and features, the Association has a dining hall, general store, and cottages that you can rent! On this particular day we skipped all of the buildings and headed straight for the hills, but we’re hoping to stop into the dining hall for brunch after our next hike.

**Before moving to Boulder, I was unfamiliar with Chautauqua, the adult education movement. Were you?

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Arriving at the park, we knew it was a popular weekend destination, but were overwhelmed by just how many people were there. These pictures don’t do the crowds justice. At all times there were people in front of us, behind us, scaling the rock face to our right and left. There were babies laughing (and crying), there were more college-age girls chatting away than I wish to remember. Ugh, it was crowded. But, the scenery totally made up for it, and I can’t wait to get back out there on a weekday. A friend also tipped me off that if we start at Four Pines on King St., then we won’t hit the crowds. Keep that secret.

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Before heading out, we asked for some trail recommendations and received a number of excited responses suggesting Royal Arch Trail, but it was still closed for raptor nesting.  So, with all of the well-marked trails in the park, we decided to wing it. We headed up Chautauqua Trail, made a left on Blue-Baird Trail, and then came back down on Bluebell Trail. In total, the hike took about an hour.

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As you hike up the hill you leave the grasslands behind, entering the pine forests and areas of exposed bedrock and boulders of the Flatirons.

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There are two climbers in the photo on the right above! They are near the top of the single pine tree that’s growing out of the rock face. Eventually, you reach a few open areas overlooking the city.

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liveseasoned_summer2014_hike18Just like last week’s hike, there were plenty of flowers blooming here with a promise of more to come.

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On our way back down the hill (mountain?) we left the pine trees behind and welcomed the grasses again. As you can see from these photos, the skies were overcast for our whole hike, but I think that worked to our advantage, keeping us cooler and less worried about sunburns as we walked.

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Extra Details:

  • Knowing that the area is popular on weekends, we were worried about parking but easily found on-street parking a few blocks from the entrance.
  • I had a hard time finding a good trail map online until I looked to Google. Google’s map of the park is great, with all trails well marked!
  • A hiking-with-kids tip: We knew we were heading out during Little A’s nap time, so rather than take the hiking carrier that doesn’t offer him anywhere to rest his head, we put him in the Ergo on Calder’s back. It was an easy carry for this short hike, and within a minute Alex was content and sleeping with his head supported between Calder’s back and the Ergo’s hood.

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Moving West!

*This post is probably best read as a drinking game ~ line up the shot glasses and knock one back every time we use the words excited and explore, or anything similar. What can we say, we’re excited (ding ding!).*

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Cash & Calder on Independence Pass, Dec. 2011

We have (ahem) exciting news ~ half of the Seasoned crew is moving west! To Boulder, CO, specifically, and we are jumping at the guns to explore our new digs.

We knew that sooner or later our current posts would be up and it would be time to move. For the longest time we didn’t know where to go, batting around east and west coast ideas, and just dabbling at the thought of planting ourselves in the majestic scenery that is the Rockies. Then, as luck would have it, an opportunity came up for Calder, and we jumped! We’re moving in shifts this summer, with a little bit of back and forth because there’s east-coast-beach-fun that has to happen before we settle out west.

Needless to say, I’ve been researching all things Boulder, trying to learn more about the new place we’re going to call home. I thought it would be fun to share a bit of what I’ve discovered, and if you any suggestions, please share!

  • Perhaps one of the most surprising things to me is that we can expect to have better weather than we’ve experienced living in central PA. The Boulder area folks are quick to point out that they average about 300 sunny days per year. Calder’s first reaction was “that’s excessively sunny,” which still has me laughing; we are so used to the cloudy and overcast days here.
  • In the interest of research, we’ve been looking for movies filmed in Boulder, so far all we have is Catch and Release. The reviews are average, but C and I loved it! Have any other recommendations?
  • Bon Appetit named Boulder America’s #1 Foodiest Town. The sheer quantity of restaurant mentions and food-based blogs that have come up in my online searches for Boulder, suggest there’s something to this. It’s obvious that there’s a lot to explore, and I can’t wait to get out there to start sampling and sharing my experiences. And of course there are a million and one CSAs ~ which to choose?
  • Likewise, there’s  a healthy brewery, distillery, and winery scene. Is there any question that I’m beyond excited to report back?
  • So of course, with sunshine, good eating, good drinking, and good mountains, it’s no surprise that Boulder has won a slew of “happiest/healthiest city” awards in all variations of the phrase.
  • Hiking is going to be a whole new adventure as I learn about Boulder’s grassland ecosystem and the ponderosa pine forests, which are both so different from the humid forests of PA.  Along the same lines, I’ve been researching native plants with the hopes that we’ll eventually have a yard that needs tending.
  • And then there’s the biking. I think this sums it up: they don’t just have bike lanes, they have “bike  routes”, “sharrows”, “multi-use paths”, and underpasses so you don’t have to even intersect with cars. Everything will be done by bike (until we get cold)! When Alex was born, my mom bought a Taga, and I think we’re going to clock a lot of miles on it as we explore.
  • I love a good city guide, especially written by a local, and find myself heading straight for Design Sponge’s guides whenever I’m going to a new place. So of course, I immediately opened their Boulder guide, and am excited to visit their recommendations.
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Snowshoeing near Ashcroft, January 2014

We’ve visited Colorado quite a bit (thus the Colorado photos in this post), and Calder even lived out there for a year in high school, but neither of us have spent much time in the Boulder area. As I said above, we would love recommendations ~ if you’ve been there or live there, give us some tips! 

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From our road trip in 2008. Can’t wait to go on more photo-taking adventures!

But ugh, as exciting as this is, I still find a lump in my throat when I think about moving so far away from my east coast home and family. My head is a whirlwind of “you only live once” excitement mixed with the homesick blues. {Sarah here: I have that same lump! I also have excessively tapping feet because I can’t wait to plan my visit!} I hope that if anything, our lives will be richer because we already know the east coast up and down, so now we’ll get to explore the big mountains and skies of the west.

Cloud cover map from here.

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