Hiking Colorado: Gore Range & Meyers Homestead Trail
If you go to Gore Range:
To take a Point A to Point B pack trip from Lower Cataract Lake to Piney Lake:
In two cars, take Interstate 70 west and take the second Vail exit (176). Go west 1 mile on North Frontage Road to Red Sandstone Road. Turn right and go 10 miles on the often-bumpy dirt Forest Service road to Piney River Ranch. Leave one car in the parking area just outside the ranch entrance.
In the second car, double back to Silverthorne. Go north on Colorado Highway 9 for 17 miles. Turn left on Heeney Road 30 (signs say to Heeney and Green Mountain Reservoir). Go 6 miles to Forest Service Road 1725 and turn left (sign says Cataract Creek). After 3 miles on the challenging dirt road (four-wheel drive is recommended), turn left toward Surprise Lake Trail and Lower Cataract Lake. After one-tenth of a mile, stop at the Surprise Lake trailhead.
Take the pack trail past Surprise Lake and take the left-hand fork to Upper Cataract Lake and Mirror Lake. Cross Gore Range at the pass west of Eagles Nest Peak and descend into Piney River drainage to Piney Lake. The total hiking distance is about 12 miles. Stop for lunch at Piney River Ranch or jump in the car and head back to Lower Cataract Lake.
Meyers Homestead Trail
The 2.5-mile Meyers Homestead Trail at Walker Ranch may not be the most challenging workout, and it has little to offer those seeking spectacular views of towering peaks. But there are times when the ground itself offers up a feast for the eyes, and in warm weather months the ground is bursting with color.
According to the Wildflower Guide Books, more than five-dozen wildflower species flourish along the rolling hills and meadowlands through which this trail passes. Among the most prolific are the yellow sulphur flower, blanket flower, golden aster and aspen sunflower, and the Technicolor pinks of tall penstemon, wild geranium and locoweed. Farther along the trail, aspen shade provides ideal soil for tall scarlet paintbrush, lupine and harebells.
For those unfamiliar with wildflower names, just visualize a sea of color, its waves gently blowing in the wind. That`s Meyers Homestead right now. But keep in mind, the peak flower season will soon draw to a close.
Spanning the north section of the historic Walker Ranch, the flat, easy trail begins at a well-marked picnic area off Flagstaff Road and soon passes a historic sawmill built by homesteader James Walker in the 1880s. Tall swaying green grass surrounding the dilapidated structure tempts one to run barefoot, or throw a blanket down and have a picnic. But pushing on rewards visitors with a visual feast without too much exertion.
Flat and broad, it`s an ideal trail for novice mountain bikers or hiking families, and it can make a great, breezy mountain run on a hot day.
The trail ends abruptly after 2.5 miles at a Boulder Canyon lookout where one can view Sugarloaf Mountain and the Continental Divide to the west.