Caribou Ranch and Aspen Alley

We actually extracted ourselves from the deck project and went hiking – Saturday and Sunday this week!

Destination: Caribou Ranch, Boulder County Open Space

Date: 7/21/2017

Time of Day: 10:30 am start

Distance/Elevation/Difficulty: 4.2 miles (DeLonde out and back + Bluebird loop)/~340 feet/Easy (DeLonde) & Moderate (Bluebird)

Time Elapsed: 120 minutes.

Comments: This is an enjoyable and easy hike with bucolic mountain pastures and stunning mountain vistas. The rain amplified the Ponderosa Pine aroma. It was easy to imagine cows and horses grazing in the mountain meadows. Just stunning.

The DeLonde trail is rather easy trail. Narrow in some spots, but not excessively rocky and minimal tree roots. It passes through stands of Ponderosa pines and Aspen. About half of the DeLonde trail is on the old Switzerland (ran from Boulder to Ward) narrow gauge railway line and was quite wide and smooth. A pretty easy hike to the DeLonde homestead.

Read more about the Caribou Ranch recording studio. In the ’70s and ’80s some of the most famous albums in rock history were recorded nearby.

The Bluebird Loop from the DeLonde homestead is initially narrow and rocky. After the mine spur turn off, the trail opens up (likely due to the return to the narrow gauge railway bed) and is very easy to walk on.

Our herd of turtles start cost us during the hike. We got caught in a late morning rainstorm. Alex was a trooper and did about 2.5 miles of the entire hike. But the rain pushed him over the edge. As Jess was piggy backing him out the last 1.5 miles, he sounded like a little gremlin growling.

Caribou Ranch Gallery

Destination:  Aspen Alley, West Magnolia Recreation area

Date: 7/22/2017

Time of Day: 10:30 am start

Distance/Elevation/Difficulty: 2.6 miles/462 feet/Easy

Time Elapsed: 60 minutes.

Comments: We last visited Aspen Alley over Mother’s Day. Since our last visit, the Aspens are in full leaf and the clear cut areas were full of wild flowers. This hike we found the right trail through Aspen Alley. We also remembered not to go down 926B, since it was a more difficult hike to get back to the car.

Aspen Alley hiking route.

Aspen Alley Gallery

Aspen Alley

Destination: Aspen Alley, West Magnolia Recreation area

Date: 5/13/2017, our Mother’s Day weekend hike

Time of Day: 10 am start. Herd of turtles again

Distance/Elevation/Difficulty: 2.6 miles/462 feet/Easy

Time Elapsed: 90 minutes.

Comments: This area is known for encampments of homeless people. The summer weather is moderate and significant numbers of homeless people set up summer camps in this area. We didn’t see any camps on this hike.

Purple is the route we hiked out, orange is the route we hiked back.

We didn’t do the hike as listed on AllTrails. The route followed is shown below. The All Trails route includes the 342 loop around the clear cut area and 925. Coming back down 925B resulted in some slightly steeper and rockier terrain. We also ended up below the parking area and had to hike back up.

This area has some areas that were clear cut 3-5 years ago. This takes away from the scenic aspects of the hike while opening up some mountain vistas.

Would we return? This would be a beautiful hike in the fall after the aspens change color. There were some very nice aspen stands along the hike. There is a large number of trails in this area and overall this was an easy hike for when we want to get outdoors but not over exert ourselves.