Colorado: Streaming With Beauty - Part 3

8. Conejos River Waterfall - A beaten path in an out-of-the-way location.

Trail length: 8 miles round-trip
Location: South San Juan Wilderness, Rio Grande National Forest.
Elevation: 10,000 to 10,500 feet

This easy hike takes you on a lovely excursion into the South San Juan Wilderness and the headwaters of the Conejos River. The trail heads up the Conejos River from a trailhead located above the inlet at Platoro Reservoir. Two miles into the journey you come to an area called Three Forks, a broad wet meadow at the confluence of the North, Middle and El Rito Azul forks of the river. This area is popular with backpackers who want a quick overnight in the wilderness. From here, take the Middle Fork Trail (Trail 712) another two miles to the waterfall. If you feel like extending the hike, you can take the trail two more miles to Lake Ann, where fishing is excellent for wild brook trout. Lots of wildlife and wildflowers abound there.

9. Bald Mountain

Trail Length: 1-mile loop
Location: Clear Creek County, Colorado
Elevation gain: 200 feet

An easy hike, perfect for families, awaits you at Bald Mountain. While the name suggests a barren landscape, Bald Mountain is anything but bald. The summit is 7,160 feet, and a short hike will get you there. At the top, you will find spectacular views and, depending on the season, beautiful wildflowers. The 108-acre scenic area is the perfect spot for picnics; tables with breathtaking views are located at the trailhead. On the way to the summit, the trail splits - to the left is a more direct route to the top; to the right is the Pines to Peaks trail, which winds through ponderosa pines before reaching the summit. Bald Mountain Scenic Area became the Open Space departments and Boulder County Parks first open public space property in June of 1973.

10. Chipmunk Lake

Distance: 4.1 miles, one way
Location: Rocky Mountain National Park
Elevation gain: 2,180 feet

A mountain backdrop greets visitors to Chipmunk Lake, which is very small. The trail starts with a series of switchbacks as it makes its way up. It begins to level off at about the half-mile mark and comes to the rim of the remnant canyon carved out by the Lawn Lake flood of 1982. The flood killed three people, caused some $30 million of property damage in Estes Park and forever changed the beauty of this area. The scene includes large boulders, which were moved by the force of the flood. The trail follows the canyon for about 0.8 miles, where the trail to Lawn Lake and the Ypsilon Lake Trail fork. Continue to the left on the Ypsilon Lake Trail and cross the wooden bridge over Roaring Fork River. From the bridge, the trail enters a forest dominated by lodgepole pines. At about the 4-mile mark, the trail begins to descend to Chipmunk Lake. The lake provides for a good photo opportunity, as Fairchild Mountain and Mount Ypsilon reflect off the water.

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