Monday, November 15, 2021
Play'n Hooky - Warm temps - Jeep trails

Sunday evening I looked at the weather for the week and saw that Monday's high would be in the low 70's. Check the calendar - it's curiously open - let's play hooky and see if some mountain views could be enjoyed. A quick poke to the 4x4 group to see if anyone would be interested - sure thing - a couple are.

Monday morning we met in Lyons with a destination of Rock Creek - a long closed ski hill - so long ago that nature has covered the mountain leaving no hint of ski runs. To get to the area, Highway 7 southwest from Lyons would be used but it's closed for construction. We'll take another jeep trail, Johnny Park, as a nice detour. While on Johnny Park, at the west end is a trail I have yet to visit - Parachute Hill. It's a fairly short out-n-back and is why most of the time it's bypassed. From the visit today - it's not overly scenic so no huge interest to re-visit though it might have some decent camp sites to use.

Out to Rock Creek we started up the trail. It's mostly a pine-tree-canyon on the north-ish side of the mountain. How much snow will we encounter? In the end, when folks started to slide down hill we decided to call it quits. We didn't make it to the top. Snow wasn't too deep (3 to 4 inches) but when packed, on a slope, traction was the issue.

Weather was nice - no need for a winter coat!

Clockwise loop. Meet the group in Lyons at 10am and head directly to the trails.

Start in the top right with what I call the Button Rock spur. Some call it Johnny Park though I believe the maps break them into two trails. Parachute Hill, yellow, was a 'checkbox' trail for me today. Rock Creek, bottom left, was the destination. Traffic was low - perhaps only six other vehicles passed while on the trails.

We're having a good air day. The mountains are quite defined and crisp. When heading south from Berthoud, nearing Longmont, Pike's Peak was surprisingly visible on the horizon - 120 miles distant (if I recall the distance correctly).

Longs Peak (right)

On Johnny Park I stopped at this common photo spot. The reservoir is Ralph Price.

Some landmarks

The nicely snow covered mountains were the reason for the picture but looking at it to post - I won't crop the clouds out - they make a nice round looking glass to the blue sky.

On the Rock Creek trail - the pine tree canyon.

We're giving up / turning around. Yellow jeep started sliding downhill a bit out of control (a bad feeling). I have turned around to drive down heading forward. Yellow jeep is backing down to find a spot wide enough to turn around.

Near the trailhead - Rock Creek

Early in the day the gent in the yellow jeep was talking with another vehicle at the start of Johnny Park. Those folks were looking for wildlife - elk perhaps. The comment was - go to Estes Park - that has very good odds to see elk.

On my way home, instead of skirting the edge of Estes Park I decided to drive through town. And yes there were elk. These two were hanging out at the boy's club - a couple miles away from the rest of the herd.

Down at the river, near downtown, was the rest of the herd.

Heaing home on US-34 to Loveland, more slow traffic - some bighorn sheep on each side of the highway.