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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Aspen Hunting on the Peak-to-Peak

This past week the Rocky Mountain News ran a special section on good spots to see Colorado’s golden Aspen trees by driving, hiking and biking. I was interested in getting out to see the colors already, so this was all the extra incentive I needed.
I had never driven on the Peak-to-Peak Highway (Colorado Highway 119) outside of Blackhawk, but had done it from Lyons to Estes Park before. So, seeing as this was uncharted territory for me, I figured I’d take the day to drive the part I hadn’t been on before and head on up to Estes Park for a quick walk around in town or maybe an even quicker hike in Rocky Mountain National Park.
No sooner though did I head out of the metro area and up into Clear Creek Canyon than I started to see the Aspens changing. It was quite a lovely drive, but something told me there’d be better colors awaiting me once I got out of the canyon and past Blackhawk.
And, sure enough, once I made my way out of town I was greeted with all kinds of colors, not just the typical gold.
The trees in the area were predominantly green, thanks to the pine trees in the mountains, but there was a lot of great color from the Aspens and small mixture of other trees.
With my quick lesson learned in Yellowstone National Park, I made a stop along the highway when I noticed a bunch of other cars pulled over on the side of the road. Was it to be for some elk or something that I’d see in Yellowstone? No, not exactly. Instead it was for a beautiful bunch of trees whose colors were just right.
I took a quick hike in the area, but didn’t go far since my car was essentially double parked on the side of the road. It was nice though to get out and take a few quick shots and just enjoy the scenery. It’s easy to lose sight of the beauty to be found in the mountains when you live here, as it is when you live anywhere, since you’re around it each day, so it was nice to take a moment to soak it in.
I continued on my drive, making a couple of other stops on my way to admire the trees, and then I pulled on into the little mountain town of Nederland, where I ended up making a wrong turn in a roundabout.
My intent, as I mentioned, was to head up to Estes Park, but I accidentally got off on the turn for Golden Gate Canyon, which took me into Boulder.
I made a couple of stops along the way to check out the Boulder Creek, but didn’t really stop and admire it until I was actually in Boulder.
Once in Boulder I picked up some lunch and went back to Central Park, off of Arapahoe, where I settled down on some creekside rocks and enjoyed my lunch while listening to the sound of the water running swiftly in the creek.
I was having such a nice time just sitting there that I decided to walk the creek for a bit and check out more of what it had to offer. As I did this, noticing the kayak course that’s used when the water is higher, I came across other walkers, as well as many bicyclists enjoying the day, and this fisherman.
His net was empty when I saw him, and passed him on the walk back, so I’m not so sure this is the place to try to catch anything good, but it was obvious he was having a nice time enjoying the day despite the occasional rain shower.
I had some more time to kill once I was done walking along the creek so I decided to head down to Chautauqua Park and do a quick hike by the famous Flatirons of Boulder.

Living in Colorado for eight years I had heard so much about the Flatirons, and driven by them several times myself, but have never taken the opportunity to hike around the park.
The wrong turn in Nederland turned out to create a great opportunity that I was happy to take advantage of, despite the trail actually being quite steep and difficult at times. Heck, at one point (left) I wasn’t even sure I was on a trail as I had to climb over a bunch of fallen rocks!
Unfortunately enough though, as much as I would’ve liked to keep hiking, I had to return to my car after about 90 minutes so I could head on into work at the Bluebird for the night. I have plenty of incentive though for a return trip, where I can spend much more time hiking and exploring the park, which I’ll hopefully do soon before the snow sets in.
Although, on that thought, I have been meaning to pick up a pair of snowshoes to see what that’s all about.
For more on scenic drives in your area, like the Peak-to-Peak Highway, check out ByWays.org online. It’s definitely a great resource for great drives.

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