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Clear Lake Trail, Colorado State Forest, Sept 24, 2006

December 18, 2006

Posted on December 18, 2006

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Colorado has it’s own forestry system. There is a Colorado State Forest located just on the west side of Cameron Pass near Gould, CO. I decided to go there to check out the trails and the fall colors.

Here is my standard note about my hikes. The information that follows is a summary of the hike along with only a few very small, low quality photos of the hike. In order to see all the photos in larger sizes and in much higher quality, along with more information on each photo, please go to the photo gallery here. If you want to see where the hike is located, you can check out a Google Earth map here, or you can see a topo map of the trailhead here.

So, I headed up over Cameron Pass from Fort Collins, CO on a very nice, warm, sunny day. All the way up Poudre Canyon (CO Hwy 14) I kept thinking that this was going to be an awesome day for a hike. Well, it was, but not quite how I expected.

About 5 miles from the Pass I started to see a lot of fresh snow (along with a lot of nice fall colors). By the time I got to the Pass I understood that they had received a foot of new (somewhat wet) snow the day before. What that eventually meant was that I had to do my hiking in some wet snow and mud, but the fall colors (and the fact that it was fairly warm and sunny) more than made up for the extra hiking effort.

I would recommend anyone that does the hike (or, is just up in the area for some other reason) to stop off at the Colorado State Forest headquarters right before you get to Gould. Very nice place, lots of maps and a huge 3D clay relief of the area, and extremely friendly rangers to answer all your questions. Its also a place to purchase permits ($5 per vehicle per day when I was there) in order to hike in the state forest. Well worth it. If you wish, you can also purchase camping permits.

If you have time, walk along some of the trails outside the headquarters. They are quite extensive and your chances of seeing a moose are pretty good. Aside from the live moose in the area, there is the famous “barb wire moose” that stands outside the headquarters.

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I headed into the state forest at the KOA turn off. I was expecting to see a lot of people, but I only passed a handful of cars on the roads. It’s possible the weather were keeping people away. I eventually found my way to the Clear Lake Trailhead after following a somewhat muddy road which took me through a very pretty area.

Once I started off on the “trail”, it was evident that the part that I would cover this day was part of an old forest road. Due to the snow and mud, I did not go more than 2-3 miles, so I’m not sure if the “trail” ever turns into an actual footpath, or not. However, I saw enough to know that I’d be back another time. The trail section that I was on wound it’s way up and down the hills that run along the foot of the Rawah range. So, you are walking through a lot of sage and aspen covered countryside. Eventually you would head east and up into the mountains towards Clear Lake, but before that you get very nice views of North Park, and other mountains to the southwest, through the aspens.

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While there was snow on the ground, and in the mountains, the trees had retained almost all their leaves and the colors were very nice. It was difficult to know when to stop taking pictures : )

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I eventually entered a section of the road that had turned into a muddy stream and decided that was enough for the day. I had plans to go into Walden and see my mother and sister, so this would give me some additional time for that.

Once I had finished my visit with my family, I headed back to Fort Collins by way of Laramie, WY. This allowed me to see some additional fall colors (and enjoy a change of scenary from Poudre Canyon). Due to the sun shining into my camera lens, this was not the best of time of the day to take pictures of the Zirkel mountains, but still very nice.

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Again, I will be back (maybe this coming fall) for another attempt at Clear Lake. Definitely a lovely place and pretty close to Fort Collins (around a 90 minute drive).

– Geoff Weatherford

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. Bob permalink
    July 12, 2007 5:17 pm

    Great info. Thanks for taking the time to publish this infomation.

  2. July 13, 2007 4:11 am

    Thanks for looking. Glad it could be useful to you.
    – Geoff Weatherford

  3. September 10, 2009 3:13 pm

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. 🙂 Cheers! Sandra. R.

  4. September 15, 2009 1:21 am

    Hi Sandra,

    Thanks for dropping by. I haven’t been posting much but I have been hiking a lot of new trails. I do most of my posting in the winter (when it’s too cold to hike). But, I’ll try and get a new hike up this week.

    Thanks,

    GeoffW

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