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Trap Park Trail, CO and the Moose, July 13, 2008

December 25, 2008

Posted December 25, 2008

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After Will and myself’s little escapade on the Blue Lake trail, I decided to look around for something a little lower in elevation until I was sure the snow was gone from the higher elevations.  So, Sunday, July 13 I looked at the map at the area around Cameron Pass for some “quick and easy to get to” trails (got off to kind of a late start : ).  Now, interestingly enough, I’ve done a fair amount of hiking north of Cameron Pass (the Rawahs), but not much in the country south of the pass.  Particularly back in the Long Draw Reservoir area.  Hmmm.  Looks to be a trail up a valley called Trap Park that was not too far off Hwy 14, so that’s where I headed.

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 I put in this site’s trip narrative. I have two other links that will help locate the area if you are interested in making the hike yourself. A Google Earth map can be found here. Use the scale bar on the left side of the Google map to help zoom in or out to help locate the area based on where you live. (This link will direct you to a Google map that shows ALL my trips.) In order to help you with the actual trail itself, you can use this link to view a topo map of the Trap Park trail. All links open a new browser window.

In addition to the Google map link above, here is a Microsoft Live map.  The red tack shows the general location from Fort Collins, CO.  You can click on the map to bring it up in a “live” mode.

Trap Park Traihead
Trap Park Traihead

I had to drive up the Long Draw road around 3 miles off of the paved Hwy 14 to get to the Trap Park trailhead turnoff.  But, the Long Draw Road is an extremely well maintained gravel road (wide, too) if just a tad bit on the dusty side.  The Trap Park turn off was a little tricky to maneuver in my new “low to the ground” Hyundai, but I went slow and it was only 100 yards or so to the parking lot.

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The smallness of the parking lot, and the few vehicles that were parked in it, got my “trail o meter” buzzing.  Because the country was looking really nice, the trail looked really lightly used, and it had all the makings of a new “gem” (a special trail).
I shrugged into my pack, hung my camera from my neck, and stuck my hat on my head.  And off I went.

Here is a shot of the sign at the entrance.

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Now, don’t get confused at this point.  Because you will see a trail heading off behind the sign.  That is not the trail to Trap Park, but instead it is a trail to Trap Lake which is close by (in fact, if you keep driving up the Long Draw road past the Trap Park trail turnoff, you will drive right past the lake).  Anyway, assuming you want to got to Trap Park and not the lake, head up the trail that goes through the steel gate (you can see it in my “parking lot” photo).

Also, please have some mosquito repellent with you if you go during the summer.  The mosquitos were in full force along the first section of the trail as it winds through some meadows that are lush and damp.  You will also encounter them in the woods.  Once I got up into the “park”, the breeze was good enough to make the mosquitoes disappear.  That said, they weren’t bad enough to make me put on any repellent (I do that as a last resort) nor keep me from stopping to take some photos : )

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Close ups of some Indian Paintbrush wild flowers.

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Macro……….

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The first half mile or more of the trail (after the meadows) will have you gaining all the altitude that you will need to get up to the elevation of Trap Park.  But, it’s not that steep (at all) and follows an old road.  So, pretty easy walking.

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The elevation gain also provides for some great view of the surrounding country.  Here is a photo looking north into the southern end of the Rawah Wilderness Area.

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Here is a zoom of the area.  I’m pretty darned sure that this is looking at the Blue Lake trail area.  I think I can almost see exactly where Will and I had to turn back due to the deep snow two weeks earlier in our attempt to hike to Blue Lake.

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Here is a little side stream that the trail/road crosses.  Still a few patches of snow around.  Great place to take a short break (particularly if you have kids along).

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And then you come around a little corner of the trail.  And there it is.  Trap Park.  As can be seen, it was quite nice.  Quite, quite nice.  And it is even nicer than what the photo shows.  As the man said, “Trust me”.

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Looking across the park at flower level.

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Macro of one of the flowers.  Just amazing.

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The one thing that strikes you right away, aside from the massive beauty of the place, is that it is very lightly used.  The road disappears, and the trail takes off.  Plan on getting your feet slightly damp (although, if you come later in the summer, the stream may be low enough to hop across).

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Almost immediately I hit a common (to me) trail puzzle.  Which way to go?  It seemed fairly obvious that the trail went across the stream and headed (probably) up the park.  But wait.  After I had already crossed the stream, what was that over there?

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Another trail.  Even if it’s not the “main” trail, where does it go?  Should I go check it out?  Sigh.  So many trails, so little time.

Zoom in on the trail.  I mean, it’s a perfectly good trail.  My feet are begging me to go there.  But, another time maybe.  I move on.

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I love little ponds.  I think this one maybe had a couple of ducks swimming around.  Can’t remember.  Now, remember me saying something about, ummm, “insects” earlier.  Well, out in the open in the park, the breeze was just enough to keep the insects at bay.  And sun/air combination was enough to make the breeze seem nice.  BUT, if I stepped off into the woods (as I did for a short time), I found that the mosquitoes (and other flying insects) were still around in force.   So, I did not spend a lot of time in the trees.  I let the insects have the trees, and the insects let me have the park meadows.  Everyone was happy : )

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Zoom in on that a little.  Not sure what mountain that is, but I’d really like to hike up it.  I look through my maps for a minute back home and then remember the slick National Geographic map software Conor got me a while back.  So, I quickly load that and check out the area.  Iron Mountain, elevation 12,265 (almost exactly 2,000 feet higher that Cameron Pass).

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A little more zoom and change the perspective.

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I get past the pond and see that the park just keeps on opening up ahead of me.  I mean, it just keeps getting better and better.  And, as can be seen, the weather was ab-so-lute-ly perfect.

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Looking across the valley, is Flat Top Mountain.  Maybe that’s where the other trail goes to.  Interestingly enough, directly on the other side of that mountain is another valley I hike up a few weeks in the future.  But, that’s another story.

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Here is a sequence of 4 photos that zoom ever closer at Iron Mountain which rises at the end of Trap Park.  Have I said yet how the park just kept on going and going?

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Zoom.

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Zoom some more.

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Max zoom.  Yeah, that looks doable.  Maybe not today, but some day.

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I’ve seen this guy before on some of my other hikes.  Strange.

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Note the heavily worn trail?

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I saw a total of 6 people on the trail.  3 close up, and the rest at a distance.  These are 2 of the ones that I saw “at a distance.”   Ummmm.  Actually, they ARE in the photo, but kinda difficult to see, no?

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Here.  Let me zoom in on a small section of the above photo.  I never did see them again.

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Crossed a few nice little streams.

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Looking back down the trail.

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So, I was strolling along enjoying the view, when I started to come over just a very slight rise to where you could see a large portion of the meadows.  I just caught the barest glimmer of a “darkish” object that didn’t quite jibe with the rest of the background.  It’s difficult to see, but right where that old log with the stump sticking up in the air (to the left of the trail), the ground drops off a bit.

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I zoomed in to get a better view.   Ah yes.  A moosey in the willows : )

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I position myself to get a little better view (behind the log : )  Yep.  Ol moosey, himself.

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At first I thought he would be running away the first chance he got after seeing me, but it turned out he was quite happy just to make sure I didn’t get too close while he was eating.

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Zoom in a little.

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As can be imagined, I took a LOT of photos.  Even took some videos that you can see at my web site:
http://www.geoffw.smugmug.com/gallery/6713765_nAUDA#431353633_wKe6R

As it turned out, there were several moose eating together in the willows.  Here are 3 (or 4) others about 50 yards away from the largest bull.

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Anyway, I took another photo (or 100) and then headed on up the park.

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After another 100-200 yards, I came upon a sign indicating that this was a boundary for a wilderness area.

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Zoom in on that.  Nice to see that they are putting some protection up.  Mostly to warn the snowmobiles that come up in the winter.  Be pretty nice cross country skiing around here.

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This is the “head” of the park.  I hiked another quarter mile or so pretty much right into the middle of that meadow area in front of me.  The trail drops down here and heads out across the willow flats (that are interspersed with some nice meadows).  You do start to cross the stream multiple times which caused me to hike up and down looking for somewhere to cross (wouldn’t be a problem later on in the summer).

At this point, if you were looking to hike up the mountain, you’d need to make a decision.  Either head up left to the ridge (through the trees where those snowfields are located).  Or, head up the valley as it winds out of sight to the right.  Unless there is a nice trail up the valley, I’d head up to the ridge, I think.  I decided to head back down at this point, so I don’t know which direction the trail ends up going.

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On the way back down the trail, I took a little photo to show how beaten down the trail is : )  Pretty nice for being not really that far off the highway.

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I also ran into my moose buddies.  They must have been into some prime feed : )  As can be seen, the wildlife people have been busy keeping tabs on these guys.

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Headed back down the trail, after saying goodbye to the moose, and came across a nice patch of Colorado yellow mountain flowers (new species : ).

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Here is the whole scene.  Gee.  I wonder what’s around the end of the snow?  Another meadow……  O well, some other time.

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Here is a close-up of one of the flowers.

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It’s amazing how much different everything looks when going back down the same trail you just came up a few hours ago.
Actually getting a few (very few) clouds in the sky.  With the sun headed down, light is getting a bit nicer for photos.

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Turning and looking back one last time at upper Trap Park.

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Zoom a little.  Pretty nice.

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Looking across Trap Creek at Flat Top mountain again.  Looks like a nice spot for a tent over there on the other side of the stream..

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Heading back down the road/trail, I take a photo of that creek.  It’s in the shadows now.

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Can’t go without getting my feet all snowy and wet, so I found a patch of snow : )

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This is on the road/trail not too far from the parking lot.  That’s looking at Trap Lake.  And I “think” that far peak (the one without trees to the right) is in the Comanche Peak area where Conor and I did some hiking.  Small world.

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So, all in all, a great “gem” of a trail.  Good for all types of people, multiple day hikes if desired, and really not that far from the big cities.  I’ll have to come back and hike up Iron Mountain some time.

– Geoff Weatherford

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6 Comments leave one →
  1. Jonathan permalink
    March 5, 2009 4:30 pm

    Thanks, Geoff, for this one. Looks like a gem to me, especially considering the added bonus of the ‘moose factor’ (i.e. the real possibility of viewing one). I love it whenever I’m privileged to spot one (several on Long Draw Road, a majestic bull close-up in Tunnel CG, & this past summer in Comanche Peak Wilderness). I must now take the trek to Trap Lake, as once again you’ve captured it in a lovely way.

  2. Jonathan permalink
    March 5, 2009 4:34 pm

    small correction: I said “Trap Lake” — I meant “Trap Park”.

  3. March 11, 2009 2:27 am

    Jonathan,

    Thanks for stopping by and reading. Actually, you can check out Trap Lake also. It’s right next to the parking area. But, Trap Park, up the trail, is a whole lot prettier : )

    Have a great hike.

    Geoff Weatherford

  4. Misqua permalink
    July 7, 2009 8:48 pm

    One I will have to do. Thanks for sharing it.

    • July 8, 2009 2:38 am

      Misqua,

      Extremely lovely hike. I almost didn’t put it in my blog just to make sure nobody found out about it : )

      Thanks,

      GeoffW

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  1. Corral Creek Trail, CO August 23, 2008 « Paths Trails and Beyond

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