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Hiking Bob: Can't get into Rocky? Try this nearby mountain hike

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Rocky Mountain National Park, just outside of the small town of Estes Park, is one of the most popular national parks in the country, in a typical year drawing millions of visitors to experience its breathtaking vistas, wildlife sightings and, of course, hiking and mountain climbing opportunities.

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, you can't just take a drive up to the park and expect to get in.  Current rules at Rocky Mountain National Park require both a park pass and a "timed entry permit" from 6 a.m. to 5 p.m., seven days a week.  The nice thing about the area around Estes Park is that there are plenty of hiking opportunities that don't require entry into the national park.

One of those opportunities is Crosier Mountain, a long, broad mountain that stretches from the tiny town of Glen Haven on its west flank, almost to the equally small town of Drake, along Highway 34 on its east flank. 

What makes Crosier Mountain a great hike is having your choice of routes to take to get to the breathtaking views from its summit. None of the routes are loops, so you'll need to choose to do it as an out-and-back hike, or do it as a through hike with a car shuttle, or — if you have an understanding significant other — get dropped off at one trailhead and picked up at another.

On my hike on Crosier Mountain, I started at the trailhead in Glen Haven, and came out at the Garden Gate trailhead, about 9.25 miles later. You can also start at Garden Gate Trailhead, a little more than 2 miles up County Road 43 from it's intersection with Highway 34 in Drake, or from the Rainbow Trailhead, about 3 miles from the Garden Gate trailhead, or 2 miles from the Glen Haven trailhead. 



Of the three, starting at the Rainbow Trailhead is the shortest at about 7 miles round trip, but it's also the steepest and most difficult route. Starting at Glen Haven is just a little bit longer in distance, but with several hundred feet less in elevation gain. Starting at the Garden Gate Trailhead is the longest route at about 10 miles round-trip and more than 3100 feet in elevation gain.

See slideshow for details

To Get There: From Estes Park, take County Road 43/Devils Gulch Road to the town of Glen Haven. The trailhead is at the end of a dirt road that comes off of CR 43 between the town hall and fire department. Do not drive up that road, instead park on the wide shoulder across the street on CR 43 and then walk the short distance up the road to the trailhead.

Things You Need to Know: This hike is moderate to difficult, due to some steep uphill sections. There is no water on this trail or at the trailheads and there are no bathroom facilities.  The slideshow and directions are for a through hike starting at Glen Haven and ending at 9.25 miles (including the side hike to the summit) at the Garden Gate Trailhead. The hike is open to all but motorized vehicles.

As always, when traveling, check your destination for any COVID-19 restrictions. Don't become an unwanted burden, especially on small towns.

In other news:
Colorado Parks and Wildlife
recently announced significant enhancements to its Colorado Trails Explorer (COTREX)  app. It's a long list of new or improved features and you can find out more here.



Colorado State Parks will celebrate Colorado Day, the anniversary of Colorado becoming a state, by waiving entry fees to all 41 state parks on Aug. 3.  Also, active duty military members, veterans and National Guard members get free admission to state parks for the entire month of August. You'll need to get a pass at parks visitors centers or CPW offices by showing proof of service.

In Green Mountain Falls, access to the popular Catamount Falls trail by way of Hondo Avenue will be closed starting Aug. 4 due to work being done by Colorado Springs Utilities to their facility at the top of Hondo Avenue.  Hikers can access the trail by way of Belvidere Avenue.  The closure is expected to last for about one month. Hikers are reminded to be good neighbors and be considerate of the people who live in the vicinity of the trails.

On Pikes Peak, the detour on Barr Trail at the summit of Pikes Peak will be in place for another month and is now expected to be completed by the end of August. Until then, the hike up Barr Trail to the summit is about a mile longer than usual.

Be Good. Do Good Things. Be a Good Neighbor.

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for almost 28 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (@hikingguide), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc. to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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