Platte River Trail hike 

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Located in the Pike National Forest, just north of Lake George, Platte River Trail #654 provides an enjoyable hike that features cooling wooded areas, the South Platte River and, of course, great views. While not named on my maps, locals have told me that this area is known as "Wildcat Canyon." (I didn't see any wild cats.) Although mostly an easy to moderate trail, there's a more strenuous uphill section, but since it's on the final leg of the hike you can skip it all together or just turn around there.
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Bob Falcone
The trailhead sign for Platte River Trail #654. Going north from here, the trail borders private property to the east. Respect the private property and don't wander off the trail.
Bob Falcone
The trail is well made and although there is a few hundred feet of elevation gain, it's very gradual, with the trail mostly following natural contour lines.
Bob Falcone
There are blue diamond markers on parts of the trail, however, they are not on the entire trail. May not be completely useful.
Bob Falcone
The view looking south from about 1 mile up the trail.
Bob Falcone
At about 1.5 miles, damage from the Hayman Fire is visible to the east.
Bob Falcone
At a little more than 2.5 miles, the trail comes down to the South Platte River where you'll see this sign. Depending on how far you want to hike, you can either turn around here for an approximate 5 mile hike, or bear left (north) to continue on the trail. You'll likely run into a number of people fishing in this area.
Bob Falcone
Looking back to the south, where the trail first meets the South Platte River. Although the sign says it's 2 miles to the trailhead, my GPS and map confirmed it's a bit over 2.5. It appears that the discrepancy is due to some trail re-routing.
Bob Falcone
The trail follows along the South Platte River for the next couple of miles.
Bob Falcone
At approximately 3.75 miles, the trail widens into an open area and pulls away from the river, going up a moderate incline to the left. After this point, there is an occasional downed tree across the trail. It's not too difficult to get around any obstructions.
Bob Falcone
After a little more than 4 miles, the trail does get a bit tricky. The next few pictures will show you how to navigate through a few sections.
Bob Falcone
This is immediately after the previous photo.
Bob Falcone
Stay tight to the left. This area may be slick when wet.
Bob Falcone
Follow the obvious trail a short distance.
Bob Falcone
Then, take the rock steps down to the right.
Bob Falcone
Left at the bottom of the rock steps.
Bob Falcone
The trail then drops right down to the river — it's easy to lose track of it from here. This area may also be impassable or dangerous during high river flows.
Bob Falcone
The trail goes down and then sharply to the left. Though not pictured, the trail hugs a large rock on the left side. It may be wet/muddy here. Once past it, continue up to the trail.
Bob Falcone
The view along this section of the trail.
Bob Falcone
After approximately 4.6 miles you'll find a sign, you will actually approach from the opposite direction. From here, you can turn around or proceed up to the left on Trail #626. Trail 626 is a steep, rugged climb for almost a mile before becoming much easier and very scenic. You may want to turn around here, for an approximately 9-mile hike, Unless you're doing a car shuttle. There are a few blue diamond markers at the beginning of Trail 626, but nothing after that. Most of the trail is easy to find but it's overgrown and has a number downed trees.
Bob Falcone
If you go up Trail 626, keep the creek to your left for about a 1/2 mile until you get to this creek crossing. From here, you will cross the creek a few more times. Just past this crossing there's a very large downed tree with no easily definable path around it.
Bob Falcone
After a little more than 5 miles, the trail goes through a barbed wire fence before it comes to an old 4-wheel drive road that's now closed to motor vehicle traffic.
Bob Falcone
Looking back on the trail after getting onto the road. The remainder of the hike is easy and pleasant with wide fields and lots of aspen trees through an area known as Platte Springs. If you want to experience this section but don't want to hike this far (and then hike back), you can reach it by driving to the end of County Road 210.
Bob Falcone
The north end of the trail, at the end of County Road 210, approximately 6 miles from the south trailhead. If you set up a car shuttle you would leave (or start) from here. Otherwise, retrace your steps for an approximately 11-mile hike.
Bob Falcone
The route. My hike was from south to north and then back, a little over 11 miles.
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Bob Falcone
The trailhead sign for Platte River Trail #654. Going north from here, the trail borders private property to the east. Respect the private property and don't wander off the trail.

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