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Platte Ridge Trail, Platte River Wilderness, WY May 27, 2007

June 28, 2007

Posted June 27, 2007

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So, on May 25 (Memorial Day weekend) I took off looking to get out of Fort Collins for the day. The higher elevations are still loaded with snow at this time of year, so it’s nice to have some wilderness areas that are lower in elevation. One such is the Platte River Wilderness area that sits just over the Wyoming border north of Walden, Colorado. I got to it by heading north to Laramie, then west along Wyoming 230. About 30 minutes after leaving Laramie, right as you hit the Colorado border, there is a national forest access road that heads off the highway north to the Pelton Creek campground. A rather nice campground to say the least.

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 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 Platte Ridge trailhead parking lot and section of trail I hiked that day. 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.

At that campground can be found trailheads for the Platte Ridge trail that I would hiking on, along with a trail that follows Douglas Creek all the way down to the Platte River.

It was nice weather to begin with, then started clouding up when I got to the trailhead. It remained cloudy (with a few drops of rain) while I hiked, and then cleared up once I got back to the truck. But, very pretty area, no snow, and quite a few flowers, so I just took the weather in stride.

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The reason that I took the Platte Ridge trail versus the Douglas Creek trail was simple. Douglas Creek was running pretty high with snowmelt and the trail crosses it early on. There is no bridge. If I had had waders and a stout pole, I might have tried it. But, later in the summer the water will be lower. I may come back in the Fall.

As I said, the early flowers were appearing everywhere, including my favorite, the Pasque.

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Maybe not the prettiest flower around, but since it is one of the earliest it remains one of my favorites.

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The trail was mostly a gentle climb. Crossing a lot of meadows, through aspens, and by some small lakes.

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Here is one of the “lakes”. There is a small string of these, including several that have filled in to the point of becoming marshy meadows.

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Pretty easy to follow, but the trail does “disappear” occasionally as it crosses meadows, so it pays to watch where you are going. The sun broke through the clouds for a short time as I followed the “yellow brick” road : )

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The trail gets on top of a ridge and runs into some old roads. This is not a well traveled trail (say, compared to Rocky Mountain National Park), so you should bring a topo map along to help guide you between the signs (few and far between). You run across some boggy areas (they may dry up later in the summer). I saw a LOT of moose sign, but no sightings of the animals themselves.

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Here is a spot where you meet with the trail again after following an old road for a while. I believe I saw where the trail split earlier and could have save myself a few minutes, but it seemed “wiser” to follow the old roads.

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Strange thing. I saw this weird guy along the trail who seems to be mysteriously present on a lot of the trails I hike on.

Just kidding. Sometimes I snap a photo of myself just to make sure I was really there : )

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The trail stayed level for some time then began slowly descending. Here is a shot of a last remnant of snow.

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It was difficult to tell on the map I had, which failed to completely match the trail I was following, but it looked as if the trail was going to head downward into a valley, follow it for a while, and then cross a ridge and repeat. Supposedly this trail eventually ends up intersecting the Douglas Creek trail.

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I followed the trail down to the watershed just to see if there was a sign that might help understand where I was, but although I saw some nice aspens, there was no sign. The trail clearly headed downstream.

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So, I turned around and headed back to the truck. Stopping occasionally, of course, to take some photos of the flowers : )

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These were interesting because normally they were pure white. But occasionally there would be a patch that had a faint tinge of purple in them.

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Macro.

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Maybe they acquired that from cross pollination with some of these flowers?

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Anyway, found myself back at the Douglas Creek trail and walked down it a ways just to see what it was like. Looked quite nice and I look forward to hiking along it sometime.

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I took another photo of Douglas Creek looking upstream (the section that is above the campground) since the sun started poking it’s way out from behind the clouds. Might come up sometime and take a hike up the creek just for fun.

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Ended up being a great hike (about 6 miles round trip for the small section I did) and an extremely pretty area. And did I mention not many people? Took approximately 90 minutes to drive here from Fort Collins, so pretty easy on the gas also. I look forward to coming back.

– Geoff Weatherford

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. melva permalink
    November 6, 2008 10:36 pm

    I love the place ….

  2. November 8, 2008 11:08 pm

    Melva,

    It is very nice. Thanks for visiting.
    – Geoff Weatherford

Trackbacks

  1. Douglas Creek, Wyo with Will, October 13, 2007 « Paths Trails and Beyond

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