Hiking through History Colorado  by Robert Hurst

Hiking through History Colorado Guide Book

by Robert Hurst (Falcon Guides)
Hiking through History Colorado  by Robert Hurst
The hikes in Hiking through History Colorado include easy, flat strolls and rugged, strenuous marches, and everything in-between. No matter the difficulty or distance, all the hikes are tied together by a common thread. Each has historical interest attached to it, some historical twist that makes it much more than just a walk in the pretty woods.

© 2016 Robert Hurst/Falcon Guides. All Rights Reserved.

Trails from the "Hiking through History Colorado" Guide Book
Displaying trails 20 of 40.

Displaying trails 1 to 20 of 40.

Walk from Breckenridge to Ford Gulch on this moderately strenuous out-and-back to a mining district with extra historical significance. This is a “civilized” hike on trails that cut through the neighborhood above Breckenridge. Barney Ford was born into slavery, his mother a slave, his father a plantation owner. At age 25 he was slaving on a riverboat crew and managed to escape to Chicago, where he met his wife, Julia. Ford came to Breckenridge by way of Nicaragua, strangely enough. He and Julia had embarked for California via ship, but got sidetracked in Central America, setting up a hotel there. When Nicaragua passed a pro-slavery law and the Fords’ hotel was bombed, collateral damage in the local political violence, the couple went back to the United States.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 4.7
Two historic homesteads and a mysterious teepee ring are among the waypoints on this moderate loop in the Masonville area. The eastern portion of the loop, to the Kitchen/Smith Cabin, is wheelchair-accessible. Two very different types of “homesteads” are on display at Bobcat Ridge Natural Area. You’ll find the familiar log cabins, barns, and sheds associated with late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century attempts to work the land. There are old ranch structures near the trailhead, and out along the loop as well. On the other hand, there’s a (probable) Ute teepee ring in the golden grasses above the cabins. The Utes didn’t stay in any single place for very long, moving with the seasons and the elk (and according to the necessities of never-ending wars with other tribes), but some of them apparently liked this place well enough to set up a nice teepee ring, with over one hundred stones. Possibly this was a lookout point.
Fort Collins, CO - Hiking,Horseback Riding,Mountain Biking,Trail Running - Trail Length: 4.6
On this low-key but potentially strenuous forest hike, starting from an easily accessible trailhead near I-70 and Silverthorne, walk a rugged mile to what’s left of an old cabin. Admittedly it’s not a super-exciting hike and doesn’t have the most compelling story, but Buffalo Cabins Trail is worth a go. Cabin ruins near mile 1 make a natural turn- around for a quick but blood-pumping hike with some steep, rooty sections. Those who need more than that have come to the right place. The trail continues from the cabin to the top of Buffalo Mountain, picking its way steeply through a boulder field, then perusing gently sloped alpine tundra to get there. Views, of course, are outstanding from the summit trail; below the cabins the trail is ensconced in the dark forest.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.1
Join the beautiful Colorado Trail as it drops out of the subalpine forest into the wide expanse known for hosting Camp Hale and continues up the valley toward Tennessee Pass. Camp Hale is one of the most interesting historic sites in Colorado. Camp Hale was born in the urgency of World War II. The basic details of its beginnings are explained in an article by Army Corps of Engineers public affairs officer Eileen Williamson: “In 1940, after learning that Finnish troops held off Soviet invaders for 3 months using winter warfare tactics, National Ski Patrol founder, Charles “Minnie” Dole, penned a letter to the War Department offering to help train U.S. soldiers.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 13.2
Crunch through Pikes Peak gravel on this pleasant but crowded old route above Colorado Springs, and visit the former domain of an eccentric woman with a confusing name. Wow, you wonder, as you arrive at the parking area to start this hike, is there a new Walmart up here? Sure, it’s a disturbingly large and busy parking lot, which has grown like a fatty tumor. But here we are, doing our part to make it even busier. I recommend hitting this area on weekdays if possible. The same goes for all Front Range hikes. The first portion of this route, on old Gold Camp Road, follows the abandoned railroad route that once connected Colorado Springs mills and Cripple Creek mines.
Colorado Springs, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.7
This mellow hike through forests and meadows above Nederland will take you back 100 years in 4 miles. The well-signed route takes you to the historic Blue Bird Mine and DeLonde homestead. “Can you imagine growing up here?” my dad asked as we took refuge on the porch of the historic DeLonde house in Caribou Ranch Open Space, looking out over the green meadows and sharp pine-covered mountains surrounding us. We were both shivering after getting caught in a very cold, drenching rain, and more of the same seemed to be rolling in over the hills. I imagined that growing up here would have been quite nice, but frequently challenging. No doubt living at the DeLonde homestead was pretty fantastic on mild, sunny days.
Estes Park, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 4
This is a moderately challenging loop with a special historic site and unique scenery southeast of Denver. The Castlewood Dam may have been cursed from the beginning. During its initial construction in late 1890, many of the men working on it came down with typhoid fever. Almost immediately after it was finished, creating a corporate-owned reservoir, the dam’s structural integrity was questioned—it seemed to be leaking quite rapidly. Wild rumors started flying in Denver that the dam was going to fail and leave the city under water.
Denver, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.7
Take a walk at the base of Cheyenne Mountain, on some of the newer trails in the state. The route is quite close to the entrance to a very unusual military installation that is hidden inside the mountain. Cheyenne Mountain was really the Utes’ mountain, not the Cheyennes’. Although very few if any prehistoric artifacts have been found here, there is much to suggest that the land was well known to the Utes for centuries. The mountains here around present-day Colorado Springs are central in the Utes’ creation myths. According to a complicated Ute legend, Cheyenne Mountain is a dragon named Thirst.
Colorado Springs, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 4.8
Hike uphill to a spectacular location—the granite peak called Devil’s Head, crowned with a well-preserved fire lookout tower. Bring the whole family on this exciting mini-adventure into the sky and into the past.
Boulder, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.7
This is a steep but short climb to an old cemetery above Glenwood Springs. The cemetery is—possibly—home to some very famous residents. It’s interesting what kind of heroes America latched onto as the frontier days came to an end. Shooters, killers. Outlaws. Up to and including murder, the sins of very bad guys were forgiven as long as the bad guys possessed certain manly traits, like the virility to stand up to other bad guys. Doc Holliday is one of those curious American heroes, loved primarily for his fearlessness, coolness under fire, loyalty to his friends, and perceived willingness to take out anybody foolhardy enough to insult his manhood for any reason. Nobody knows exactly how quick to murder Doc Holliday really was.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.8
This is an easy loop through a historically unique and fascinating area. The petrified redwood stumps of Florissant Fossil Beds make mind-blowing and unique trailside scenery. The giant redwood stumps were the only fossils they couldn’t take. Not that they didn’t try to take those too. In the late nineteenth century and well into the twentieth, Florissant was a favorite destination for tourists who paid for the privilege of hunting for fossils, which they would take home as souvenirs.
Colorado Springs, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1
Take a walk around the dredge piles; then see the beast that made the mess. French Gulch is one of Breckenridge’s most abused mining districts but still retains its beauty. The hike visits several shafts, mill sites, and other points of historical interest. In 1859, as the Pikes Peak gold rush cranked up (having very little to do with Pikes Peak), a party of several dozen outfitted itself in the brand-new, burgeoning camp called Denver City and started for the mountains. They dropped into South Park, then disagreed about where to go next. Half the group wanted to cross Hoosier Pass and prospect around the Blue River valley; the other half wanted to keep poking around South Park. So they split up. The group that dropped into Blue River found a band of Utes already there. The gold-grubbers immediately built a relatively elaborate log fort (Fort Mary B.), which proved unnecessary, as the Utes weren’t hostile at all. Had they seen what was coming, they might have been.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.6
Walk from Snowmass to Aspen on the varied, challenging, and delightful Government Trail. While you’re walking, ponder the relatively recent discovery, at a nearby pond, of thousands of bones belonging to ice-age beasts, like mastodons and giant sloths.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking,Mountain Biking - Trail Length: 11.2
Climb a sand dune. Then another. Then three more. Keep climbing. Then tumble back down to where you started. Retrace the steps of floundering explorers in one of the most unique and fascinating places on the planet. This is a weird hike! There is no trail, just a vast area of dunes. The hike doesn’t start from the visitor center, but from the parking area by Medano Creek. After passing the visitor center, turn left onto a paved access road that leads to the parking area.
Colorado City, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.2
An easy jaunt to a historic tourist ranch preserved by the National Park Service, the hike is located on the less populated west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. This is an easy hike inside Rocky Mountain National Park, across the flat Kawuneeche Valley to an old “trout lodge” nestled in the trees on the other side. It’s a great little hike for kids or anyone who needs a quick leg-stretcher after a long car ride—a nearly universal condition among tourists moving through this area. History buffs will enjoy the cluster of buildings that make up this establishment, including a number of tourist cabins, an icehouse, and a taxidermy shop. Many nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century tools and other artifacts add interest to the ranch site.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.2
This is an amazing short hike around a seemingly desolate canyon that once teemed with human life. The “tower” ruins at Hovenweep are among the most impressive and best preserved in the Southwest, and defy tidy explanations. Hovenweep National Monument is not to be missed if you’re a history buff. Though you might have to travel ever so slightly into the state of Utah to experience this unique hike, don’t let that scare you off. This hike around Little Ruin Canyon is a ghost town tour like no other. The trail loops past the remains of several structures built right on the edge of the small cliff, giving hikers close-up views as well as equally intriguing cross-canyon views. The trail goes around the head of the spring-carved canyon—the spring being the whole reason for this community’s existence—returns on the other side, and finally dives in and out of the canyon itself to complete the loop. The section within the canyon has some short, vertical sections that require much more careful footsteps and might be beyond the limits of some hikers.
Cortez, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 1.7
This is a short but sweet little history tour of a hydraulic placer mining operation near Breckenridge. History buffs will get a kick out of the curated exhibits on this micro-adventure, but hiking enthusiasts might fail to get their ya-ya’s out satisfactorily, and nature lovers will be even more disappointed in the human race than they were before. Sheer volume. That’s what hydraulic placer mining was all about. They destroyed the mountain in order to get at some specks of sparkly metal buried in the dirt. And they got rich doing it. This pressure-blasted canyon has become an outdoor museum of sorts, for those with a minimum of strength to get up the hill. The route is fairly well manicured and straightforward. There are several spurs to “exhibits” off the main trail.
Silverthorne, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 0.9
This is a hill climber’s route up Lookout Mountain, visiting the grave of Buffalo Bill Cody and an accompanying museum. In 1917 Buffalo Bill Cody—the former trapper, Pony Express rider, army scout, and buffalo meat supplier to railroad crews, who parlayed his nationwide celebrity as a frontiersman into worldwide celebrity with his Wild West Show—found himself not only dead but trapped on Lookout Mountain. Buffalo Bill had expressed a wish, in writing no less, to be buried above his namesake town, Cody, Wyoming, so it’s a Colorado mystery how he ended up here. Revenge of the buffalo According to one theory, his widow subverted his final wish because she was bitter about Bill’s infidelities. But that may be a bit of a smokescreen to cover what really happened.
Boulder, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 5.6
This is a short but sharp little climb that takes you to an unusual location among the Flatirons. Start at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) campus and end at the bats’ own Mallory Cave, about 700 feet above. This is a fun, quick, but vertical hike that puts you right in there amongst the Flatirons. The start/finish and the destination are both a kick in the pants. The hike starts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research, on a pretty mesa top above South Boulder. Nature is the real architect here in South Boulder. The Flatirons, massive chunks of Fountain sandstone that have been torn out of the earth by the uplift of the Rocky Mountains, dominate the scenery. The 300-million-year-old layer of red rock was formed by the complete erosion of a previous mountain range, the so-called Ancestral Rockies.
Boulder, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 2.3
This hike heads directly up a historic incline railway in Manitou Springs—a route so ridiculous that it has become world-famous. To say this is a busy hike doesn’t really do it justice. More like a communal hike. As if there was some kind of extravagantly hatted holy man with a healing touch or free smoothie coupons waiting at the top of the mountain. There were easily hundreds of other people struggling with me on the Incline (and struggling to find parking beforehand). Of course, I had to try it for the first time on Labor Day, maybe the busiest day of the year. I’m sure it’s not so packed most days. Anyway, I was shocked at how many people were up here, Labor Day or not.
Colorado Springs, CO - Hiking - Trail Length: 3.6