Hiking

Spring and Fall Hikes at Guernsey State Park

For spring hikes nothing in southeast Wyoming beats Guernsey State Park. If you think you know the place, popular for its camping, swimming and water skiing, but have never been up on the cliff tops, think again. During the 1930’s the young men of the Civilian Conservation Corps constructed six interlocking trails that reach from the […]

Fishing for Fossils near Fossil Butte, WY

Over the holiday weekend we went fishing near Kemmerer, WY. At Fossil Lake.  But Fossil Lake dried up 50 million years ago.  The fish? Herring and bass. Dead, flattened, buried and fossilized. Pressed between layers of limestone like flowers in a book. Fishing in rock, yet fishing it was. Our rod and reel? Hammer and chisel […]

Cottonwood Draw Falls: Not for everyone

This waterfall isn’t for everyone. It’s out of the way. On no maps. Not that big. And it requries a real bushwack to reach. Plus it’s seasonal, flowing well only during the wet spring. But waterfalls with a sheer drop are rare in our part of the state. So for waterfall aficionados I’ll let you […]

Reese Mountain: Saved for You!

(Note: This piece was written for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle and published on Jun 22, 2006 along with a companion article by Cara Eastwood. Shortly following its publication, for unknown reasons, Mr. Broe thankfully ended his long effort to acquire the mountain. It’s yours! Enjoy the wildest place in Southeast Wyoming!) Reese Mountain belongs to […]

Boars Tusk: By any other name….

Give it a more captivating name and this ancient volcanic plug just might be a tourist destination. How about the Black Cathedral or perhaps Druid’s Throne?  It is dark, mysterious, a weathered old ruin rising on a circular dais, jabbing the heavens, more ready to curse than bless… Or the Dark Flame?  That captures its shape and […]

Crystal Reservoir Loop: For the Insatiably Curious

Are you a person that just has to see behind the familiar?  To peer beneath the everyday and common place?  When you were six was Curious George an inspiration rather than a warning? If so, you have something in common with Albert Einstein.   “I have no special talents,” he wrote in a letter.  “I am only […]

Pole Mountain Surprise: The Death Crotch

I thought I knew all the paths of Pole Mountain and Vedauwoo.   Prided myself in my superior know-how and know-where.  So I was surprised when my friend Shan showed me a map produced by the Pedal House, a Laramie bike shop.   It showed a trail called “The Death Crotch” climbing the west side of Pole Mountain. […]

Walking the Devil’s Backbone

The devil is buried. And his backbone protrudes. You can walk beside it, touching the sides of his massive vertebrae. Chilling? Creepy? Actually it’s a fine spring hike or bike, for you, the kids and the dog. The burial site can be found just west of Loveland, Colorado on Highway 34, about an hour south of Cheyenne. […]

Greyrock Mountain

There are surprises (Wow!) and surprises (Whoa!). On any trip, let’s have more of the first. The Greyrock Trail, not far from Cheyenne, has some solid “Wow’s”, and on my recent foray down from the peak, one definite “Whoa!”. Driving up the winding Poudre River canyon from Ft. Collins you’ve probably noticed some trailheads. The is […]

Bison at Soapstone Prairie

Ten genetically pure bison will be returned to the grasslands of Soapstone Prairie and Red Mountain Open Space on November 1, 2015. The release of the bison, known as the Laramie Foothills Conservation Herd, is a joint project of the City of Fort Collins, Larimer County, Colorado State University and the US Department of Agriculture Animal […]

Twins Looking at Twins: The Twin Sisters

The Pawnee, it is said, found their way around the Colorado plains by noting the location of “the Twins,” that great pair of peaks we know as Longs and Mt. Meeker. The very best view of those twins, a close up, may be from another pair of twins, the Twin Sisters.  If you are interested […]

Rocky Mountain National Park: Centennial Celebration

Rocky turned 100 on January 26th. Rocky being Rocky Mountain National Park.   1915 was the year President Woodrow Wilson signed on, making it the nation’s 9th.National Park.   The official dedication ceremony was held on September 4, 1915.  So think of this year’s spring and summer as one long birthday celebration for Rocky. How can you best join […]

El Morro National Monument

First trivia question:  “What is the nation’s first national monument?”  You’ve got it.  Devils Tower.  A matter of Wyoming pride, it adorns our license plates.  President Teddy Roosevelt made that declaration on September 24, 1906. So what is the nation’s second national monument?   Tough one, isn’t it? Hint:  Also a big rock, but sandstone.  And in a […]

The Medicine Bow One Hundred

 The One Hundred Mile Backpack Route through the Medicine Bow National Forest of Wyoming Cheyenne backpacker Shan Holyoak likes a long trail. One hundred miles at least. Six times he has hiked the Centennial Trail, 111 miles through the Black Hills, as a spring get-in-shape warm-up for bigger things. Those things include the Superior Hiking […]

Bobcat Ridge Natural Area

A spring excursion for everyone (well, almost everyone) at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area Waking from your long winter’s sleep? Want to chase down a taste of spring? Try out Bobcat Ridge, one of Fort Collins’ Natural Areas. With 16 miles of trails this foothills area has something for everyone. And I mean everyone. Almost. There are the […]

The Everglades: Beauty that Whispers

What is a Rocky Mountain backpacker doing in the Everglades? Well, it’s cold out here in Wyoming. Work took me to Florida. And I had that familiar yearning to get out, out far, far away, where I could breathe, really breathe. Could I find it in Florida? So there are the Everglades, the third largest National […]

Vedauwoo Area Maps from “Just Trails”

“Just Trails” publishes new hiking maps for Vedauwoo and Snowy Range  Al and Rebecca Walsh of Laramie have produced a new series of maps of the Snowy Range, Pole Mountain and Curt Gowdy trails. They did it the old fashioned way—by walking every step—and the high tech way—logging each of those steps by satellite to […]

Longs Peak

We climbed Longs Peak, Bob and I, late last summer. All week after the climb I felt something, something beyond the tight calves that hobbled my first steps each morning. Something deeper that lay beneath all the week’s normal activities. It wasn’t pride. It was just the knowledge that I had done something. It was […]

Lone Pine Canyon

Stunned.  Maybe it was the sky. Grey cotton-wool pressing, lowering down, an ominous ceiling; beneath it scudded trains of white clouds. The sky promised rain, threatened snow. Maybe it was the surprise. I didn’t know this place was down here. Hidden behind a nondescript hill, hidden behind an everyday name—Lone Pine Creek—burst this canyon. Topped by […]

Gateway Natural Area & Seaman Reservoir

Gateway to spring If you’re looking for a quick spring escape check out Gateway Natural Area. It’s found at the start of Poudre canyon where the river makes a crazy bend, a horseshoe turn as if it wants to go back up to the high country from which it came. But the waters accept fate, […]

Pawnee Buttes

Has winter cramped your soul, crumpled it up like a wadded piece of paper stuffed into your chest? Do you just need to get out? But where to go in April, with the high country still in snow? Try Pawnee Buttes. These two rugged outliers stand away from the retreating bluff, their capstone roofs towering in […]

Sand Creek National Natural Landmark

Min-ument Valley: The Topple Blocks of Sand Creek National Natural Landscape Due south of Laramie, where Wyoming meets Colorado, there, or so it seems, is a piece of Southern Utah. It is as if a Utah rock garden has been teleported, spread along five miles of meandering Sand Creek.  There are rock chimneys, hoodoos and […]

Pole Mountain Aspens

Where do you find a glimpse of heaven on our rocky mountain earth? In soaring granite spires glowing with sunset? Shimmering cutthroat rising from the depths? Maybe a bull elk stepping through silver mist into a meadow aglow with morning. Yet is there any place as heavenly as a fall grove of towering aspens? Gold above, […]

Signal Mountain: An athletic hike to a stellar view

If you are interested in an athletic hike to a great view I’ve got two words for you: Signal Mountain. It is athletic in that there is a 3,272 foot climb over 5.9 miles, yet not technical. A trail guides you all the way to the summit.  The view? A close-up of the Mummies, that […]

Finest Waterfall in SE Wyoming: Duck Creek Falls

Where is the finest waterfall in southeast Wyoming? Our geography holds many glories—the Snowy Range, Laramie Peak, the sculpted rocks of Vedauwoo—and many fine rivers—the North Platte, the Encampment, the Laramie. But we are not big on waterfalls. Our land shuns a shear drop. The most famous, Green Mountain Falls in the Sierra Madres, is a […]

Meet under the Eagle’s Nest

There are landscapes that create memories, spark conversation and connection, that stir reflection. Meeting places of water and rock often make for the meeting of kindred spirits. And they can be just plain fun. One of these is Eagle’s Nest Open Space, just forty minutes’ drive to the southwest of Cheyenne, Wyoming. More than one hundred years […]

Red Mountain Open Space, Colorado and The BIG Hole

Want to take a spring hike? Search for that first bluebird of happiness? Our favorite hiking though–around Vedauwoo—is still cold, 2,000 feet higher than Cheyenne. Let me tell you about a good spot “on the level”, its trailhead equal to our altitude. I’ve found, spring or fall, whatever the weather is doing here it is likely […]

Sycamore Canyon Wilderness, Arizona: Taylor Cabin – Casner Mountain Loop

Bad info Have you ever taken a long hike with bad intelligence? That was our situation hiking the Taylor Cabin Loop in Sycamore Canyon, Arizona,late March, 2012. Our little group relied on trip descriptions that led to false expectations, frustration and some tense moments.  The books we were using were A Guide to Northern Arizona’s […]

Trail of Wonder: Mount Rainier’s Wonderland

When I came home I found trees rooted in my bedroom floor. Massive trees, serene, standing sentinel over my sleeping form, quieting my worries with a hush. They stood for weeks, nightly, in my dreams. It seems I brought them with me, unwittingly, from our hundred mile walk around Mount Rainier. They’ve now disappeared but […]

A Pole Mountain Secret: the Hidden Trail to Point Crawford

The long ridge line of Pole Mountain slopes several miles from the summit toward Cheyenne ending in a distinct point, Point Crawford. From there it cascades down to ever smaller points until the mountain is finished. Long ago a walking trail was made leading up to Point Crawford along the gentlest route, rounding these points. That […]

Spring Break in the Needles

The Cheyenne, Wyoming winter can needle a person. You know the feeling. Caged and cramped, it seems like everything and everybody is poking and jabbing, random acts of accupuncture. “Give me a break!” Consider a spring break to Utah’s Needles, the southeastern district of Canyonlands National Park. These skyward pinnacles of red rock won’t needle […]

Snowshoe or Ski In Cabins

Just imagine. Before turning in you step outside. The cold is bracing, refreshing. Listening intently, you quiet your breath. There isn’t a sound, just the faint stir of wind in snow laden pines. As eyes adjust to the night the sky becomes alive, rivers coursing through the pulsating glow of the Milky Way. Orion hovers above, […]

Chasm Lake

She told me she wanted one more hike before the snow flew. She wanted to take her friend who wasn’t sold on outdoor excursions. Her criteria were tough:  * A destination so stunning, so gorgeous, so interesting, so grand as to be beyond words * A trailhead within two hours drive of Cheyenne, Wyoming * […]

Turtle Rock Trail at Vedauwoo

The trail circling Turtle Rock at Vedauwoo is undoubtedly the most popular trail in the Cheyenne, WY, area. And for good reason. It’s close, easy and fascinating in its mix of geological artistry and biological wonder. On any given weekend throughout the spring, summer and fall it’s thrumming with college age kids, seniors and young […]

Hewlett Gulch

The word “gulch” brings up scenes from a cartoon. A dry desolate wash, replete with a bleached cow skeleton, where (gulp!) our intrepid hero Goofy is about to be dry-gulched by a gang of stubble-faced villains. Not an inviting picture. And nothing like Hewlett Gulch.  Hewlett is an inviting ramble up a pleasant creek, a little […]

Leapfrogging the Teton Crest

The Teton Crest Trail draws trekkers from all over the world. It’s one of the top ten alpine hikes anywhere, Switzerland, New Zealand and Patagonia included. But it hadn’t drawn me. Something got in the way.  Permits. I’m from Wyoming. I like my freedom. I want to camp where I want to camp when I […]

John and Annie Woodhouse Recreation and Wildlife Habitat Area

Spring, in our foothills, is the metallic call of the sleek and shining redwing blackbird perched on the flaking old tuft of last year’s cattail. It’s the full out, web-extended urgent brake of the northbound teal throttling down to rest a night in an overfull pond. The nose of a spotted fawn peering up through […]

Hidden Secrets of Vedauwoo and Pole Mountain, Part 2

The Pole Mountain area, now a scene of play and renewal, has a history of struggle and tumult. For decades warriors trained, grunted and groused; “readied, aimed and fired“, detonating explosives that tore the quite high country air. Civilian Conservation Corpsmen sweat and labored, building roads and planting the forest we enjoy today. Miners blasted […]

The Secrets of White Rock Canyon

There is a canyon on the north end of the Medicine Bows that few know. Its shadowed walls hold hidden secrets, discretely placed, hushing those who encounter them. Here the solid remains of an ancient dune field, nestled into the granite range, have been exposed by tumbling waters. The creek has carved a canyon, filled with […]

Rafting the Cache la Poudre

The other day I went into the Room of Doom, through the Maze, down the Devil’s Staircase. And that was just the start. After Decapitation there was Cardiac. I nearly ended in the Pine Box.  It was my wife’s idea. She said our 35th wedding anniversary needed some adrenaline. That got me worried. What did […]

White Rock Canyon

Highlights: A sandstone canyon sporting two tall rock pillars inscribed with glyphs from the cowboy era, a laughing stream and a lush growth of pines. Location: Near Arlington on the north edge of the Medicine Bow Mountains. Total Distance: One to two miles down and back. Elevations: Rim, 8280’; Floor 8060’ Maps: USGS White Rock Canyon quad; Medicine Bow […]

Coyote Ridge in Ft. Collins Open Space

Itching to get out and stretch your legs? Restless? A warm breeze, a few daffodils, robins hopping about the yard will do that to a person. But here on these high plains all our favorite tramping grounds are bound in snow or slippery with mud. What’s a person to do?  Drop about a thousand feet. It […]

Cross Country Skiing at Happy Jack Ski Trails

“Shooshhh, shooshhh, shooshhh,” the snow whispers to the skis. “Shooshhh, shooshhh, shooshhh….” A gentle compress of snow hovers on each fir’s flat needles, as if to cool the overheated exertion of a summer’s growth. This forest, dry and rocky and ignored in summer, has been enchanted, spell bound. The sun, gazing soft and low from the southern […]

The Winter Pilgrimage to Sedona

I understand that in the middle ages people didn’t take vacations. They took pilgrimages. These were journeys, long or short, with a destination of spiritual import. Relic remains of holy men and women were a special draw. Central to the trek was a hope that something divine would happen to them There was interesting company, too, […]

Unintentionally lighting a fire for National Parks

A spark, like the arc of fire as steel strikes flint, fell with each postcard. It was the summer of 1961 and the postman brought a card nearly each day. I tried to meet him on the steps. Glossy spectachrome, some with scalloped edges, some sheer. Photos of the our national parks. The badlands, great buffalo, […]

Rock Creek – Deep Creek Trail, WY

Highlights: A lovely, long trail following the creeks of a deep, shady canyon.  It’s a popular place to stretch out because it’s so easy to get to, so well constructed and the surroundings are so peaceful and expansive.  The trail was given National Recreation Trails certification back in 1979 and along with the recognition received […]

The Shelf Lakes

Highlights: A high alpine lark from lake to lake – seven in all — cutting through and along the great white granite of the Snowy Range. Location: West of Centennial near the high point of Hwy. 130 in the Medicine Bow National Forest. Elevations:  Trailhead, 10,785’; The Gap, 11,040’; 4th Shelf Lake, 10,860’ Distance: Approximately 2 miles each way. […]

A “Treasure Hunt” of the Weird and Wonderful at Pole Mountain, WY

Veduawoo and Pole Mountain is Cheyenne’s back forty. We love to play up there, all with our different passions: fishing, four-wheeling, camping, hiking, climbing, hunting, skiing, sledding or just messing around on the rocks. The rocks are monumental sculptures, painted with lichens in green, orange and black. The beavers have crafted jewels to reflect the sky. […]

The Angel at Devils Gate

Highlights: This short hike is long on attractions: interesting geology, abundant moose and beaver, boiling brookies, but most of all, fascinating archeology. Location: In the southern Snowy Range, west of Foxpark, entering the Platte River Wilderness Elevations: Official, four wheel drive trailhead, 8,850’; Douglas Creek:7,950’. Two wheel drive trailhead on FS 580, 9,188’; Douglas Creek:7,950’. Distance: From official trailhead, […]

Palmer Park, Colorado Springs, CO

The Oasis in the Middle of Colorado Springs, CO Location:Palmer Park sits right in the middle of Colorado Springs.  There are two entrances to the park. To the WEST entrance: take Fillmore east, just past the major intersection at Union Blvd; you will see some medical office buildings, and then the golf course on the left.  Turn […]

Great Sand Dunes National Park and Preserve

This has to be one of the most fun national parks in the country.   Children laughing, frolicking in the water, splashing through the next wave.  Families building sand castles. Teens flying colorful kites. Seniors watching in beach chairs under their canopies.  Kids climbing up the sand, sliding down on their plastic sleds.  Dogs playing at […]

North Cheyenne Canon Park, Colorado Springs, CO

I’ll leave the more serious, camping/backpacking locales for my father to write up.My hikes are of the day variety, nearby places where I can escape into nature for an afternoon or so.So, I’ve decided I’ll write up some of those places, for those out there who just want a place to get some fresh air, […]

Havasu Canyon

Havasu Canyon is a spell binding place where you would be sure to find spring buzzing and blooming around you. It’s not so much south but down, deep into a side canyon of the Grand Canyon, on the Havasupai Indian Reservation of Northern Arizona, a 943 mile drive from Cheyenne, Wyoming. Let me paint a picture […]

Rawah Lakes

Highlights: An overnight circle-on-a-stick backpack into the high alpine country we see on the far southwestern horizon from Cheyenne, Wyoming: the southern Medicine Bows. Here, above tree line, twelve pristine lakes sparkle in the shadow of North and South Rawah Peaks. Rawah is pronounced Ray’-wah and is a native American word meaning “wild place.” Location: The […]

Arthur’s Rock at Lory State Park, Ft. Collins, CO

Highlights: A fine spring hike to summit the granite crag overlooking Horsetooth Reservoir, Ft. Collins and the endless plains. During a moist spring, wildflowers are abundant.  Location: West of Ft. Collins, CO, about 50 miles south of Cheyenne, WY. Elevations: Trailhead, 5,600’, Top of the Rock, 6,780’. Distance: 1.7 miles one way Map and Guide: “Colorado State Parks: […]

Huston Park Continental Divide Trail

Highlights: This hike is a resplendent walk along the Continental Divide Trail where it weaves together a succession of verdant meadows, each a vast, rich, colorful carpet of wildflowers rimmed with pines, rising and falling along the gentle crest of the southern Sierra Madre Mountain range. Location: West of Encampment, Wyoming in the Huston Park Wilderness […]

Mapping the Continental Divide Trail

“Men wanted for hazardous journey.  Small wages, bitter cold, long months of complete darkness, constant danger, safe return doubtful.  Honor and recognition in case of success.”   That was Ernest Shackleton’s ad in 1907.  This one, run by Backpacker magazine last February sort of reminded me of it. “Want to Make Hiking History?  Join our team to […]

Sheep Mountain Trail, Centennial, WY

Highlights: This is the mountain that everyone sees but few explore, the eastern most spur of the Medicine Bow Range. While from the road the mountain simply looks like a narrow ridge the top is a pleasant surprise, a long basin with flowing streams, wetlands and floating mat bogs. The 19,238 acres of Sheep Mountain […]

Curt Gowdy State Park: The Chameleon

Visit the Chameleon, the ruler of Curt Gowdy State Park. You’ll find him and Hidden Falls by taking Crow Creek Trail, looping back on Mo’Rocka. Highlights: A lovely little spring or late season trek following Middle Crow Creek to its mysterious Hidden Falls. An optional loop back climbs to the plateau where a great megalith–the Chameleon–rules […]

The Indian Canyons of Palm Springs, CA

Professional education took me to Palm Springs, California in January, 2009.  My friend Dan spent time in the area while in the Air Force.  “It’s ugly” is all he said.  Dan loves granite peaks and pines.  But Dan, I don’t think you made it to any of the Indian Canyons. The broad Coachella valley is dry.  […]

New Food For Hikers and Hunters

New Food for Hikers and Hunters: Pouches is the Word I guess I’m kind of a traditionalist. I’ve been eating the same stuff on the trail and in camp for thirty years. Freeze dried meals. Crackers. Salami. Cereal. Cheese. Some jerky. Raisins. A Snickers bar being the big treat. That is, until last spring. We were mapping […]

You Can Have the Grand Canyon All To Yourself

The crowds at the Grand Canyon can scramble a person’s brain. There you are, wanting to take in nature’s big spectacle, having driven all those miles, stuck in traffic, gasping fumes, bus loads of foreign tourists getting their pictures taken, no places to park. Your bambinos just want to get out of the car. Your […]

Horsetooth Rock, CO

Highlights:  A short, pleasant, early season jaunt to the top “tooth” of this Front Range hogback, giving generous 360 degree views of mighty peaks, great plains and deep blue waters. Location: Just west of Ft. Collins, Colorado. Elevations: Trailhead at 5765`, Horsetooth Rock, 7256`. Distance: Approximately 5 miles round trip, about a 3 hour walk. Guides: Larimer County’s “Horsetooth […]

Cirque Meadows and Emmaline Lake, CO

Highlights: Stunning views of four great cirques, carved side by side to crown a resplendent meadow, and higher up, two sparkling glacial lakes. This is a 9 on the 10 point “wow” scale! Location: About 90 miles south west of Cheyenne, south from the Poudre River Canyon in Comanche Peak Wilderness. Elevations: Trailhead at 8930`, Cirque Meadows, […]

Albany Trail, WY

Hike of the Week: Mysterious Albany Trail Highlights: This is a secret trail, not shown on any maps and without trailhead markings, yet someone has blazed most of it with white triangles. It leads to crystalline beaver ponds, up weathered granite hills to sweeping views of the Laramie Plains, and marches on to overlooks down into […]

Paint Mines Interpretive Park – Calhan, CO

What it is: A badlands-type area in the Colorado prairie. Gullies, spires, hoodoos, and sculpted walls carved out of brightly colored clay deposits. Location: About a 5 minute drive from Calhan, Colorado, approx. 30 miles east of Colorado Springs. Take Hwy 24 to Calhan, turn right on Yoder Rd., and follow the signs. Gear: Nothing special. Wear […]

The Gap: North Gap Lake Trail, Sugarloaf Recreation Area, WY

Highlights: It’s the season for a foray into the Snowy Range, the high country of the Medicine Bow. This trail takes day hikers through the gap between Medicine Bow Peak and Browns Peak, past several crystalline lakes into the expansive tundra behind the range. The fish are jumping and the flowers are high. Location: The high […]

Savage Run, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY

Highlights: A walk across the length of the 1st Wilderness Area in the Medicine Bows, established in 1978. The trail passes through three distinct areas. The first is through one of the few remaining old growth lodgepole forests in the area with huge trees and a park-like savannah in between. The second crosses some large […]

Encampment River Trail, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY

Highlights: This trail – a glorious walk along the Encampment River – is a gem, a sapphire. The river is a turbulent, wrestling rush of water, splashing its course down the narrow canyon. The upper reach is in the deep shade of fir and spruce, the lower runs through an open hillside of sun and […]

Rainbow End, Medicine Bow National Forest, Laramie Range, WY

North Laramie River Trail Highlights: A rather boring hike to a destination that truly has it all: scenery, wildlife, good stream fishing, a swimming hole and the interesting remains of the old Rainbow End, a lodge and string of cabins that was a popular resort for those seeking cool canyon solace and leaping rainbows from the […]

Headquarters Trail, Sherman Mountains, Medicine Bow National Forest, WY

Highlights: A mountain trail that follows the spine of the Sherman Mountains, traveling through conifer forests and open meadows, passing rugged rock formations with frequent expansive views. Location: Near the summit rest area of I-80, on the eastern side of the Pole Mountain Unit of the Medicine Bow National Forest. Elevations: Summit Trailhead 8689′, high point 8856′, […]

The descriptive side of Buckskin Gulch

Entering Wire Pass, the sky overcast, a step into mystery, walking into a secret door, down into the unknown, into the unknowable. Our voices seem boisterously loud. As it joins the Buckskin it widens into a hushed gallery. Ancient petroglyphs adorn the right hand wall. Graceful big horns parade and scamper across the wall. Hunters […]