There are campsites here and there in the trees that line the meadow, a creek running down the middle, mostly hidden in the reeds, and evidence of a multitude of wildlife, footprints included, along the trail.
Colorado Trail Segment 4 of 28
Start: Long Gulch
End: Rolling Creek TH
Distance: 16.6 Miles
The turning point. Segment 4 was a relaxing walk through mixed terrain and great weather. We had hiked in this area many times and this was the first in which there were no weather related impacts. We were waiting and anticipating, at the very least, a small rain shower. Nothing. The sun was shining, the wind was gentle and the temperatures perfect. If there were a complaint in the weather department, we’d have to say it was cold in the morning. What can we say, after being all snuggled up in our tent, alongside Mia who is a terrific companion when it comes to generating warmth in the tent, we had trouble getting up in the morning and getting on trail. It was one of the coldest mornings we had on trail this year. The aspens seemed to be in prefall mode, dropping yellow leaves all about with every passing breeze. Did we mention our favorite time to hike, fall?! Sure, it is still summer, but it felt like fall, it looked like fall and it smelled like fall…we decided it WAS fall, for a day anyway. It was a very nice reprieve from the heat of segments one through three.
We actually hiked this segment, along with segment five, in reverse. Mia would return to get in her last 31 miles of the CT with us, for a total of five segments and a little over 71.5 miles, not bad for a little chihuahua. It is about this time on the CT that one begins to realize that you are continuing to put distance in between yourself and the Denver metro area, leaving behind the hustle and bustle of city life. With each step the wilderness began to open up more and the high peaks of the Rocky Mountains near. All in all, segment four was a relaxing and quiet walk fro us. One could say that it is therapy for the body, mind and soul compared to the first three segments which were unseasonably hot and dry.
Segment four has a unique feature that is not to be missed, and quite frankly is impossible not to see. As the Colorado Trail data books puts it, you follow along an “unusually straight six mile meadow” that you walk through midway through the segment. In the summer months this would be best hiked in the early morning hours before the heat of the midday sun, or even in the cooler evening. There are campsites here and there in the trees that line the meadow, a creek running down the middle, mostly hidden in the reeds, and evidence of a multitude of wildlife, footprints included, along the trail. As we walked along, our conversation quickly went to returning here in the fall to see the colors. The aspens, reeds and grasses must put on a spectacular show of reds, yellows and oranges among the greens of the pines and blue sky. Definitely a must return to place for some fall camping and hiking. Who knows, there might even be an elk bugling contest going on, too.
With lush conditions, plenty of water and a much more remote feel, the elongated meadow in segment four in the Lost Creek Wilderness just might become a favorite fall return to place for us. It would certainly be on our list of recommended hikes, in any season, for a day hike, multi-day hike and, yes, part of a thru-hike of the Colorado Trail. There are plenty of access points for whatever type of outing suits the hiker. We’re sure anyone could find a little solace in this area. But, don’t take our word for it, experience for yourself. Our advise, take a nice overnight or day trip to the area in the fall. A camera in the morning and evening and a good book in the shade during the afternoon, though a nap in a hammock would hurt anything either. Come prepared to relax.