I am a Colorado native, born and raised. Yet, to the surprise of many, I do not ski or snowboard (cue gasp). I tried loving it several times until I accepted that it just wasn't for me. However, the very stereotypical Colorado activity I do love is hiking! I became an avid hiker a few summers ago when I got my first pair of real hiking boots. Since then every summer I have made it my goal to explore new trails, revisit my old time favorite and conquer new fourteeners. It is my favorite part about summer and every winter I reluctantly put away my hiking boots until the next warm season.
That was the norm, until this year. It was not my goal to make winter hiking a pastime of mine but this winter in Colorado has, for the most part, been exceptionally mild. Some weekends reached the sixties and therefore I figured a hike couldn't hurt. The weather was beautiful and the trails dry. While it was cooler than summer I realized that the mountains had a different feel and beauty during the winter months and I soon fell in love with it. I found myself going hiking even when the weather wasn't beautiful or the trails weren't dry. Without even knowing it I had adopted winter hiking as a new favorite hobby.
One of my favorite hikes is the Lumpy Ridge trail in Lions, Colorado. This is about a 4.5 mile loop and is nice and secluded. It is not busy like many hiking trails which is always a bonus. However, the past part is that dogs can be off leash! That means that dogs who love to explore or are terrible on leash (like Milo featured below)
can have free reign to explore and sniff to their heart's content! We went on a colder day and snow was gently falling. The trail was fairly clear and only icy in a few spots. Milo loves the snow and was in pure bliss. We ran into one other set of hikers but were alone to adventure for the majority of the hike.
I love hiking in Lions for several reasons (one of course being the beautiful mountains) but another big one being the Mon Cheri Bakery and Cidery just a close drive away. This little shop sells homemade pies, ciders, and incredible coffee. There is nothing better than finishing a cold hike with a hot cup of coffee and (on occasion) a warm slice of freshly baked pie. They also have adorable homemade dog treats that your dog will certainly enjoy after a long hike! Some other great hikes in this area include Hall Ranch and Rabbit Mountain.
Another great winter hike that I tried for first time last month was Bear Peak to Shanahan trail. This is a shorter hike at less than four miles but involves steep elevation gain. It's a rather shady hike making the top section incredibly icy. This is where removable spikes for hiking shoes come in handy. I quickly learned that with this new hobby, to finish many of the trails, spikes are a must! For safety and ease I definitely wouldn't have finished many trails without them. For anyone looking to buy a pair I would recommend buying some that have metal spikes instead of rubber. Rubber are often cheaper but can wear out quickly and the traction is not as good.
Overall, I have accidently discovered an awesome new hobby. It will be a great feeling next summer when I do not have to pack up my hiking shoes. With the proper gear and a great climate in Colorado winter hiking is not only possible but incredibly fun!