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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.

Hiking in Colorado’s Waterton Canyon

???????????????????????????????Colorado’s Waterton Canyon is the start for hiking the Colorado Trail, the 486-mile-long hike from Denver to Durango. When I set out, I didn’t intend to do nearly that much. Not even close. I only wanted a quick six mile jaunt in and out. At the end of the day, though, I had done about twelve miles round trip, and, all in all, it was a good twelve miles of hiking.

Out for the day with a friend, we discussed our goal for the hike while looking at the Waterton Canyon map at the trailhead. He was up for whatever. With a lot on my plate at the moment, I only had a few hours to spare. So I was playing the role of wimp when I told him I only wanted to go halfway into the canyon and back. He shrugged, fine with whatever I suggested, so we set out.

???????????????????????????????We made good time from the moment we started. The trail had a gentle incline as it followed the South Platte River up into the mountains to the Strontia Springs Reservoir, so we were able to maintain a good pace. By the time we made it to the halfway I initially suggested, we had been hiking only a little more than an hour. So we continued on up with our ultimate goal being the reservoir.???????????????????????????????

The incline remained gentle, but the trail became more and more difficult as we continued on. The distance and a severe lack of shade on the trail – which doubles as a road for Denver Water employees – took its toll on us. By the end of the day, I had nearly drained my camelback. It was good for me, though. I needed the exercise. As much as I’ve wanted to get out, I simply haven’t had the opportunity to do a lot of hiking yet this summer.

Hiking in Colorado Waterton Canyon TrailSeveral small picnic areas with rustic facilities line the trail, and make for easy resting points. We continued on, though, intent on reaching the reservoir to enjoy a picnic lunch along its shore. News flash for anyone thinking on hiking this trail: You can’t get to the reservoir. Sadly, the trail leading up to the dam and the reservoir is gated off. So, instead of having a leisurely lakeside lunch, we picnicked in the shadow of the dam…476 miles away from Durango on the Colorado Trail.

The Waterton Canyon Trail wishbones at this point. Hikers or bicyclists, who also frequent the trail, can turn around and go back to the trailhead. They can, as I said, continue on along the Colorado Trail. Or, as a third option, it’s possible to take another trail down into scenic Roxborough State Park. Based on where we were parked, we simply turned around and enjoyed what was now a gentle incline as we made our way back to the car.

Hiking in Colorado Waterton Canyon Strontia Springs Reservoir DamWhen we were finished, the trail and a brief respite for lunch took us just over four hours. Not bad time in my book. And according to my friend’s phone app, we burned off about 2,000 calories while on our little jaunt. All good news, especially since we anticipated only doing half that at the start of the day. The only bad news, we didn’t see any of the bighorn sheep the canyon is known for; our lone wildlife sighting was a nasty 40-foot-long snake slithering across the trail near the parking area. Okay, so maybe it wasn’t that big, but in my mind the thing was an anaconda.

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  1. Winter Is Almost Here | Jason's Travels - November 19, 2013

    […] With the change of season comes an end to hiking. No more Rocky Mountain National Park. No more Waterton Canyon. […]

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