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Molly Lake Trail, Red Feather Lakes, CO April 29, 2007

May 25, 2007

Posted May 20, 2007


So, my first “hike” (loosely speaking) of 2007 (I checked, and got the year right; for a while I thought it was 2008 : ) Decided to head up to the Red Feather Lakes area that is roughly northwest of Fort Collins, CO.

Before I go any further in the trip’s description, here is my standard comment. Please check my photo galleries here for all the larger and higher quality photos for this trip. The photos in the gallery at that link are a quantum leap in size and quality compared to the little teaser photos found here.
In addition, you can use this link to view a topo map of the Molly Lake trail head. A Google Earth map can be found here (you may need to adjust the scale bar on the left side of the Google map).
All links open a new browser window.

Anyway, I wanted a short hike to test out several things:
1. New pack (to be used for all my day hikes and also overnight backpacking trips)
2. New boots (the other boots I had, for around 5 years, destroyed my feet over the winter; still haven’t figured out how)
3. Test the feet (see number 2).

I ended up on a trail I had done before, but not for a while and not with a camera. The Molly Lake trail.


So, nice day? Check.

Mostly flat trail? Check.

Pack on? Check.

Back ready? Welllllllllllll.

Boots on? Check.

Feet ready? Hmmmm.

Anyway, this trail really doesn’t go anywhere cool. Just a very relaxing hike through some pretty country which is only an hour’s drive away from busy Fort Collins. And, the gentle two lane highway drive to the trailhead is very nice on the eyes. Hmmm. Well, ok, I guess it does qualify as “cool.” : )

It does take you by a creek, but I decided not to walk down to it and would just keep going on the main trail. If you want to hike 6 miles or more, you end up at the Highway prior to Red Feather Lakes. So, if you have a shuttle figured out (or, use bikes), you can extend this into a nice moderate hike (or, run). The trail is mostly as seen here. An old forest service road that they only allow foot (people or horse) traffic on. Well, they’ll allow baby buggies also : ) Perfect for what I wanted to do today.

This trail does not get a lot of visitors. Not sure why. Probably because it doesn’t offer any super destination (there actually is a “Molly Lake”, but it’s about 1/2 mile off the trail towards some developements). The Mount Margaret trail, that is also close by, is much more popular because you end up at a fairly high overlook over a valley. But, I like the Molly Lake trail (and the parking area for the Mount Margaret trail was packed solid).

Finally, if you have small children (or babies), the Molly Lake trail is way more user friendly (as can be seen above).

Besides, too much snow to go much higher in elevation. As can be seen here, there are still a few snow patches around even at this elevation. The trees are not “quite” greening up yet.


They did get a lot of snow this winter. Still hanging tough in the deeply shaded areas. Unfortunately, not enough wetness to really test my new boots (that would come a couple of weeks later : )


So, OK, no leaves on the trees yet. But, there was green grass, and, yes, FLOWERS!!!!!
These guys, pasques(sp?), are some of my favorite flowers of all times for one simple reason. They are among the first, sometimes they are the first, flowers to pop up from the ground in the spring. I’ve seen them coming through the snow, even.


But, there was plenty of “non-snowy” areas for them today. I had no problem finding them.


Here is a photo of the place where I first found most of the pasques (also a good view north towards Wyoming).


Here is what they look like jussssssst as they start to open up.


Another view from a different angle. They are such an “ordinary” flower, but after looking at snow all winter, they look pretty darn good.


Speaking of snow, here is a shot to the west that takes a look at some slightly higher elevations. Also, you can’t tell by looking at the photo, but the clearing is full of flowers. Just not thick enough to be seen in a photo such as this.


And, using the zoom, here is what is on those mountains a little to west. Lots of white stuff : )


O well. Not to worry. The snow is far away and the sun and the flowers are close at hand (actually, the sun was a bit intense and I did get a little burned). Before I leave them, a couple more shots of the pasques.




I did not see many people on the trail (relatively speaking). So, other than the first couple right at the beginning, I only saw 3 other groups of people, and they were all on horses. Yep, Red Feather Lakes has got a real high horse population (pretty good riding country and close to even more to the west).


They were extremely gracious taking care to keep the horses away from me (probably thought I’d never seen “wild” horses before : ) Sometimes they moved way off the trail just to get their dogs away from me (OK, now that was nice of them). Anyway, they all seemed like very nice people and they were certainly enjoying the day.


Hmm, is that snow? Yes.


The trail went through open forest with lots of rock outcroppings. Not much in the way of meadows (as I said in the other email, I decided not to go down to the small stream and all it’s meadows), but here and there you would happen upon an opening and could get some pretty fine views of far away places. Great trail for small kids. No steep sections to the trail (really mostly flat), no cliffs to drop off, and enough rocks here and there to let them climb a little.


Let me zoom in a little on that.


And here is a slightly different angle of some mountains (to the south as the ones above were also) where winter still reigned.


Had to go through a few gates (all which were very well maintained and easy to open and shut). Just happened to hit this gate at the same time as I encountered another group of riders. I should point out that this time of year, along with the Fall, is a great time to be outside; particularly for people riding horses. Why, you ask (you did ask, right)? I saw NO flies. That’s a nice thing : ) So, too early yet for most insects. That will change quickly.


I’m not sure why, but I really like moss. All kinds of moss (and lichens). Maybe because of all the Spanish moss around where I grew up in the south. Or, maybe just because it’s way more than it seems.

From a distance it just looks like a blob of green mold.


But, the closer you get, the more there is to see.


Until, you realize that there is another total world/ecosystem that’s hidden at a normal viewing distance.


It’s own jungle (so to speak). Probably got it’s own types of birds, carnivores, etc. Another world. Most of us just step on it and don’t even think about it.


But, have to admit the big stuff looks pretty neat also.


I mistook those whitish things for rocks at first.


And then realized that it’s some fast disappearing remnants of snow. They are hiding from the sun : )


Finally, here is what makes Red Feather Lakes (as it currently exists) possible. It’s hard to believe, but there are amazing numbers of rather large houses (literally thousands) in this area. Not to mention at least one very, very exclusive country club. Lots of electricity needed for all that.


Well, have to admit they have done a fairly good job of blending it all into the countryside. Maybe not quite as good as hobbits, but better than some places I’ve seen.

So, extremely pleasant hike (the weather helped). I did around 4 miles round trip. Takes approximately 1 hour to get to the trailhead from Fort Collins (pretty drive in itself). Great place for a quick hike. Also, child friendly. Recommended for both Spring and Fall hikes when the high country may be too “wintery.”

Oh, since you asked, yes, my new pack worked quite nicely. And my feet ended up feeling good in the new boots. So, great trip.

– Geoff Weatherford

7 Comments leave one →
  1. naisioxerloro permalink
    November 29, 2007 8:57 am

    Good design, who make it?

  2. January 11, 2008 12:12 am

    Keep up this great resource

  3. January 17, 2008 2:53 am

    Thanks for the kind comment.

    – Geoff Weatherford

  4. LindaCO permalink
    July 16, 2010 3:13 pm

    I’m looking for a place to hike tomorrow and found this post. Thanks for a great review!

    • July 20, 2010 2:30 am


      Glad to help. Molly Lake trail is very nice. I actually like to spin off from the trail (I think it’s after you come to the Molly Lake turn off and just keep following the main trial) and hike down into the meadows along Elkhorn Creek. There are some nice beaver ponds also. Which is a nice place in the fall due to the aspens.

      The other hike in the area would be Mount Margaret (I don’t have any trip description or photos). And, I’ve wanted to do Bald Mountain (heading west from Red Feather up the Deadman road), but haven’t had the time yet.

      Hope you had a good time.


      Geoff Weatherford

  5. September 12, 2010 9:53 pm

    Great pictures and narrative. Don’t see enough of this! Do you do a lot of hikes? I can’t hike the rocky trails so am always looking for easy hikes

    • September 26, 2010 12:55 pm

      Well, I do 8-10 good hikes per summer/fall. Not all of which I’ve written about (yet : ).

      The Molly Lake trail is definitely a very nice hike. More like a stroll as the going is pretty much all level and the trail is very smooth (relatively speaking).

      Hopefully my photos and description give a pretty good idea of the type of hiking for each trail I go on. But, I need to make sure I describe that well enough in my descriptions, so appreciate the feedback.



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