The Peace Valley School was built in 1911 by homesteaders and closed in 1946. The school sits abandoned just north of Fort Morgan, CO
We hiked around Castlewood Canyon State Park this year on my birthday. This is one of my favorite State parks in Colorado. There are nice mountain views, canyons, and a creek. This park has been called the best for accessibility in Colorado, since there is pretty extensive paved trail which goes through a good bit of the park.
The park has two separate entrances, on this day we arrived at the East entrance, and hiked from the farthest parking lot. We started on the Lake Gulch trail, which is a nice mostly declining walk that takes you from the top of the park down to the creek that goes through the entirety of the park. There are some cool views along the way of the Rocky Mountains. At the end of the trail you reach the creek, which as far as I can tell is only passible in the Winter time. I haven’t hiked this area any time other than winter because of my fear of rattlesnakes, which this place has a ton of.
The Lake Gulch trail eventually leads to the creek, which was one of the icier parts of the trip. Tommy and I both fell, and went sliding just short of the water. After crossing, there is an overlook on the other side of the creek, which has a nice view to watch others do the same fall you just did. It seems like every 4/5 people lost their footing in that area. Stacey and Lucy somehow managed to navigate the icy areas without falling all day.
Across the creek, the trail forks and you can choose to go visit the dam, or take the Inner Canyon trail. We opted for the dam trail, to go see the old Castlewood Canyon Dam. I wrote up some history behind the dam here. After the dam trail, we headed back towards the Inner Canyon trail. This trail goes up and down the canyon following the creek. There are a few nice cave-like rocks to explore along the way. This trail also conveniently brings you back to where we had parked. Overall it was great hike, icy at times, muddy at other times, but a very enjoyable way to start the year.
The trail info for what we hiked, from the Castlewood Canyon State Park website:
Inner Canyon and Lake Gulch Trail
- Overall:1.16 miles, moderate
- Lake Gulch trail: 0.80 miles, moderate
- Inner Canyon/Lake Gulch Loop
- Permitted uses: Foot only
- Miles paved: 0
- Miles non-paved: 1.96
- Total distance: 1.96
- Usage: High
- Degree of difficulty: Easy to Moderate
- Elevation: 6400
- ADA accessible: No
- Comments: Takes visitors into the canyon by the creek and back out for nice views
- Pets: Yes-on a leash
The Dam Trail
- Overall: 0.35 mile, moderate
- Permitted uses: Foot only
- Miles paved: 0
- Miles non-paved: 0.35
- Total distance: 0.35
- Usage: Medium
- Degree of difficulty: Moderate
- Elevation: 6400
- ADA accessible: No
- Comments: Takes visitors around the Castlewood Dam ruins.
- Pets: Yes-on a leash
As part of my time away from work, I’ve been able to do some exploring around the local state parks… here are a few pictures from Roxborough State Park. I’m starting to have a large collection of these, so I might create a new gallery.
These photos are from the Fountain Valley Trail — its a pretty easy trail, worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Here is some information on the Fountain Valley Trail from the Roxborough State Park website:
Fountain Valley Trail
The Fountain Valley Trail begins at the main trail head next to the Visitor Center. It is considered easy to moderate for hiking difficulty and consists of approximately 2.5 mile loop that winds through the Fountain and Lyons rock formations with a moderate change in elevation. ADA accessibility is minimal, though most wheelchairs can maneuver the Fountain Valley Trail with little or no difficulty during good weather conditions. The average hiking time is 1 hour to 1.5 hours.
The Trail includes 2 overlooks (Fountain Valley Overlook and Lyons Overlook), and a Historic Site (The Persse Place).
- Fountain Valley Overlook
- The Fountain Valley Overlook is only 100 yards from the Visitor Center and provides spectacular views of several beautiful rock formations, including the Fountain Formation, Lyons Formation, and the Dakota Hogback. The Fountain Valley Overlook features a viewing platform approximately 10’x8′,and includes 2 benches.
- Lyons Overlook
- The Lyons Overlook in approximately 1 mile from the trail head and sits on top of the Lyons Formation, providing a view of the Fountain Formation. Both Overlooks can be reserved for special events and are often reserved on weekends throughout the summer.
Tommy and I took a hike along the Chatfield Dam Trail at Chatfield State Park. Here is some trail info from the Chatfield State Park website:
- Permitted uses: Foot and bike
- Miles paved: 2.4
- Miles non-paved: .3
- Total distance: 2.7
- Usage: Low
- Degree of difficulty: Easy
- Elevation: 5,500
- ADA accessible: Yes – Asphalt
- Comments: Access trailhead at Dam Overlook parking lot. Connecting trail links include the Highline Canal Trail, Columbine Trail, and Centennial Trail.
- Pets: Yes, on leash
The trail overlooks the Chatfield Reservoir which is located just south of the town of Littleton, CO. The reservoir was built in 1967 as a way to provide water to the Denver area, and prevent large floods. The intake structure is one of the highlights of the trail, as it is massive, and seems to be high security. The Dam and surrounding area is a great place to get pictures of the Southwest metro area and concertina wire.
500px is running a quest this month with the theme of “Portraits without Faces”. This is an interesting quest, and I just happened to have this picture available from a recent photo shoot we did in Denver. The quest brief is described as, “Not all portraits need faces! Not focusing on the face can open up a new dimension of interpretation while still allowing the view to capture the personality or mood of the subject.” The quest goes until January 8, 2021. One winner will receive a prize of $200.
I originally had the idea to post my top 10 photos of the year after listening to an Improve Photography podcast about the subject. The purpose is to post your top 10 photos each year, and see how you are progressing, or potentially regressing as a photographer. Instead of a top 10, I will do a top 12 and provide my best photo that was taken in a given month. I may go back and do previous years as well.
This year, due to the arrival of my son, I haven’t had as much time to go out and shoot. Outside of a trip I was able to make over the summer, I haven’t really had any personal time.
Egli House is an interesting abandonded building at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal. The Arsenal is a wildlife refuge just north of Denver. The best part of the refuge is the free admission. The visitor center is new and worth stopping in. I took this photo on a cold cloudy January morning.
This photo is of a volunteer worker welding something at the Colorado Railroad Museum in Golden, CO. My brother-in-law worked here for a while and was able to give a behind the scenes tour. I really like all the different lines in this photo.
Tommy was born at the end of March. I took this photo when he was 12-hours-old. I have tons of other pictures/videos from this time. These are some of the most backed up files I have.
My parents flew out to meet Tommy in early April. My dad and I were able to catch a baseball game between the Padres and Rockies on April 10. The game was pretty good for the Rockies. There were back to back home runs for Car Go and Arenado in the first inning. This was also at the time where Trevor Story was hitting home runs at a ridiculous rate. He hit a home run in this game well. This was a rare Rockies game that was worth the price of admission.
In May, we attended a family wedding in Redstone, CO. This whole area is my favorite in the state. It is our go-to place for vacationing in the mountains. This was also our first family vacation. The photo shows coke ovens, which are alongside the major road that goes from Carbondale to McClure Pass. These ovens were used in the production of coke fuel from the coal in the area.
This was taken during a trip to the east coast at the end of June. I have always wanted to take the tour of Monticello. These gardens were the inspiration for my own “Jefferson Garden” at home. There will be more on that in later blog posts.
This was one of two hikes I was able to do with limited time in Shenandoah. There were lots of pictures to choose from in July. Hopefully the others make it on this site.
Arrowhead is easily the nicest course I have ever played. I was able to play this course at a decent price as part of a work golf tournament. I didn’t want to play this hole long, so my tee shot ended up short of the green. In the past, this area was full of brush/rattlesnake habitat. Recently, they decided to open up that area and make it into lower cut rough.
In September, we took a trip up to the mountains to ride the Georgetown Loop Railroad.
This was Tommy’s halloween costume.
This shot is of an unusual hot air balloon over Chatfield State park in Littleton, CO
This is one of the photos I took of Tommy for the purpose of Christmas cards.
In 2016, I didn’t have the best photos, but had some of the best memories. I hope that I’ll get some personal time to do some more landscape/nature photography in 2017. There will definitely be lots of pictures of Tommy as he grows up. Also, in 2017, I will be getting in to Aerial Photography/Videography. More on that in later posts. Happy New Year!
While writing this, I found a few photos that were just outside the month boundary. If it was within a couple of days, I was ok placing them in the wrong month.
As part of a new series on this site, I’ll be posting reviews/reports of hikes around Colorado that are at least minimally stroller friendly. There are no good resources for these sort of hikes online. Hopefully someone else in my situation will somehow stumble upon this site. A lot of trails have a good bit of elevation gain, and typically have some sort of “natural stairs” or are very narrow and difficult to maneuver a stroller through. There are some resources for wheelchair friendly trails in the area, however these are usually low elevation gain paved trails. The trails I’m looking for are a superset of these.
Recently I decided on visiting Roxborough State Park just outside of Littleton, CO. The Fountain Valley Trail is located adjacent to the visitor center and seemed to be the most favorable place to go for a hike in the park. The trail is a nice loop that takes you through the north side of the park. It is a 2.3 mile hike that takes 1.5 to 2 hours and is rated Easy to Moderate. There is a lot of wildlife in the park, with a large concentration of deer, rattlesnakes, and even mountain lions. I will only visit the park in winter to avoid coming in contact with an angry rattlesnake. On this hike, I only really saw some birds, but there were all kinds of strange noises in the brush along the trail side.
From the trailhead, there is a short walk to a fork in the trail, this is the beginning and end of the loop. I would strongly suggest taking the right side of the fork. Not being familiar with the trail, I took the left. On the day we went for the hike, the conditions were pretty good. The temperature was increasing steadily to almost 60 degrees, but there were still some snow/ice in parts. This was a bit of a challenge to get through, but Tommy went to sleep right at the start of the loop and didn’t seem to mind at all. This side of the loop had the best views.
At roughly the midpoint of the trail, there are some buildings that were constructed in the early 1900s by Henry S. Persse. It looked like the stone house was open, but I decided to just look in from the outside. Seems like a good place for danger noodles to stay warm in the winter.
On the way back, which should have been the way forward, there was a steep incline to walk up while pushing the stroller. This was the only real strenuous part of the hike.
It’s hard to tell from the picture, but this was a bit of a challenge pushing Tommy and all his support equipment. The folks in this picture got a pretty good laugh at watching me struggle to push a sleeping baby up a hill. It was clear that this was my first time on the trail. This side of the trail didn’t feature any red rocks, but did have some secondary trails to view points. These were impassible with the stroller, so I had to skip them.
After the climb, there was a slight decent back to the end of the loop, which really ought to have been the start. This is where Tommy woke up and took in some of the scenery before heading back to the parking lot.
2 hot air balloons from Chatfield State Park