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Battle Mountain from Sprague Lake
2016-07-06 Boulder Brook

2016-07-06 Boulder Brook

From Sprague Lake parking area in Rocky Mountain National Park, we hiked up the Boulder Brook Trail, then turned left onto the North Longs Peak Trail, and finally departed the trail before Granite Pass to summit Battle Mountain.

2016-07-06 North Longs Peak Trail

2016-07-06 North Longs Peak Trail

With an elevation gain of 3333 feet, this is a nice stay-in-shape hike. The Boulder Brook Trail is one of the nicest in the park, and the views from the tundra on the North Longs Peak Trail are marvelous. An added bonus is that both the Boulder Brook Trail and the North Longs Peak Trail are some of the least used trails in the park. You're unlikely to meet many people. We met a group of 4 people above treeline who said they topped out at Granite Pass, and they mentioned seeing groundhogs (marmots?) there. Must have been from Texas.

2016-07-06 Twin Sisters from Battle Mountain

2016-07-06 Twin Sisters from Battle Mountain

It took about 3 and a half hours to reach the top of Battle Mountain, with lots of stops to enjoy the natural world, take video and pictures. The total trip time was about 7 hours, with total distance of 10.5 miles.

2016-07-06 Elevation profile: Battle Mountain from Sprague Lake

2016-07-06 Elevation profile: Battle Mountain from Sprague Lake

GPS Tracks

GPS data
Place Name Elev [ft] Accuracy [ft] Position (lat,lon)
Sprague Lake parking area 8730 20 40.32037,-105.60902
Battle Mountain summit 12063 20 40.27823,-105.59865

Coulson Gulch - Point 8547 - Johnny Park Loop

Point 8547 is a prominent peak in the area of the North Sheep Mountain Trail and Bright Extension Trail.

Parking off the roadside at the closed gate, near the Coulson Gulch Trailhead, we went down the Coulson Gulch Trail.

2016-04-23 Old Cabin off Coulson Gulch Trail

2016-04-23 Old Cabin off Coulson Gulch Trail

After about 1.3 miles on the trail, at the old cabin, we found a place to cross the creek, which was higher than normal due to springtime melting. After crossing, we departed the trail, ascending west, then northwest up the east ridge of Point 8547. The going was steep, but reasonable, with forest that wasn't too dense for enjoyable travel. We followed the ridge as it formed an arc toward the southwest, ascending a prominent knob, then made our way through a little snow just before reaching the summit of Point 8547.

2016-04-23 Taylor and Big John Mtns from Point 8547

2016-04-23 Taylor and Big John Mtns from Point 8547

We reached the Point 8547 summit at about 13:40. This summit has spectacular views to the west and south, showing Taylor Mtn, Big John Mtn, and Mt Meeker, among others. We call this mountain "Bubbies Pickles Peak" because the old summit register, placed there by Mike Garratt, is housed inside a Bubbies Pickles jar. It's still there. He placed it there on Dec 19, 2004. The first signing after placement was by us on April 8, 2005. We signed it again on Nov 20, 2006. Our third signing was March 24, 2012. The last signing before today was March 1, 2016 by Craig Hickethier.

2016-04-23 Point 8547 from north

2016-04-23 Point 8547 from north

For the descent, we headed north, through a few inches of snow on the north facing slope, then finally came upon a mountain biking trail which we followed until it's intersection with Johnny Park Road, shortly before the Coulson Gulch Trailhead.

We returned at about 15:40, approximately 4.5 hours after starting. The total elevation gain was about 1800 feet, and total distance about 5.4 miles.

GPS Tracks

MyTopo map

2016-04-23 Elevation profile: Coulson Gulch - Point 8547 - Johnny Park Loop

2016-04-23 Elevation profile: Coulson Gulch - Point 8547 - Johnny Park Loop

GPS data
Place Name Elev [ft] Accuracy [ft] Position (lat,lon)
Parking at closed gate near Coulson Gulch 7648 23 40.25076,-105.41087
Point 8547 summit 8599 23 40.22959,-105.43360

North Sheep Mtn - Bright Extension Trail Loop
2016-03-12 South Sheep Mtn with North St Vrain Creek flood damage

2016-03-12 South Sheep Mtn with North St Vrain Creek flood damage

Parking at the closed Forest Service gate off Big Elk Road, we hiked a few yards past the gate to Johnny Park Road, then turned right onto it.

After about 2.2 miles on the road, we turned left onto the unmarked North Sheep Mtn Trail. The trail starts out gently through relatively flat forest, then descends steeply, with severe erosion, much of it from the flood of September 2013.

Further down the trail, the flood damage becomes extreme and the trail vanishes among flood strewn boulders, dirt and dead trees. We slowly made our way through the altered landscape where the trail used to be, down to North St Vrain Creek.

Because the way we came was so rough, we decided to return by ascending the ridge on the west side of the gulch, then head north along the ridge.

Ascending to the top of the ridge turned out to be a very steep climb of about 1300 feet. We followed the ridge north to the Bright Extension Trail, then took the trail back to Johnny Park Road, closing the loop by hiking northeast along the road.

This hike took about 6 hours, total distance traveled was 9.5 miles, and total altitude gain was about 2100 feet.

Pdf map of Bright Extension Trail/Johnny Park Road

GPS Tracks

2016-03-12 Elevation profile: North Sheep Mtn - Bright Extension Trail Loop

2016-03-12 Elevation profile: North Sheep Mtn - Bright Extension Trail Loop

GPS data
Place Name Elev [ft] Accuracy [ft] Position (lat,lon)
Parking below Coulson Gulch Trailhead 7640 20 40.25072,-105.41091

Peaceful Valley Ski Loop
2016-01-03 Sawtooth Mtn from Coney Flats

2016-01-03 Sawtooth Mtn from Coney Flats

The forest service gate into Peaceful Valley Campground is closed in winter, so we parked near the intersection of the campground road and the Peak to Peak Highway.

Skiing west on the campground road, we turned left onto a trail, leaving the road, just before the bridge into the campground. This trail ends up at the start of the Middle St Vrain 4WD Road just west of Camp Dick. But we didn't take it that far, instead turning left at the second trail intersection, that heads to Beaver Reservoir. On the north end of Beaver Reservoir, the trail intersects the 4WD road going to Coney Flats. This road is very nice for skiing, since it's closed to vehicles in the winter.

2016-01-03 Indian Peaks Wilderness sign at Coney Flats

2016-01-03 Indian Peaks Wilderness sign at Coney Flats

At Coney Flats, we got the best views of the trip. With Sawtooth Mtn, Red Deer Mountain, and Coney Island all wrapped in their winter attire. There is a sign there marking the start of the Indian Peaks Wilderness, as well as a trailhead sign.

At the trailhead sign, the 4WD road turns north. In the winter, the snow cover can make it difficult to follow this part of the road since it's not as well traveled. Today there were enough tracks to make it easy.

The road descends, ending up at the Middle St Vrain 4WD Road. Heading east on the Middle St Vrain 4WD Road, we experienced the funnest part of the loop, with several stretches of perfect downhill cross country skiing. Just before the end of the 4WD road, we turned right onto the trail that bypasses Camp Dick and completes the loop.

The total distance traveled for this trip was about 11 miles, which took about 4 1/2 half hours. The low point in altitude, about 8500 feet, was near the parking place, and the high point, at Coney Flats, was about 9800 feet, making for a low to high difference of about 1300 feet.

You can see the GPS Tracks. Ignore the bunch of straight line segments near the start. They are noise.



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