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4 Free Day Hikes Around Winter Park & Fraser

June 14, 2019

Day Hikes in Winter Park, CO Hiking Tips Before Heading Out

1 . Look at the Weather Report - Plan accordingly you do not want to be caught at higher elevation in a thunderstorm. 

2.  Be Prepared - Dress in light layers, bring water, sunscreen, chapstick, a rain coat, & light snack

3.  Always Tell Someone Where You Are Going & When You Expect to Return.

4.  If you're bringing dogs along bring a leash & pickup bag.  Moose in particular do not like dogs & will often feel threatened by dogs which they associate with wolves a known predator.  If you encounter moose it's best to keep your dogs on a tight leash & avoid antagonizing wildlife. 

5.  Be aware of wildlife.  Make noise on the trail do not approach wildlife! Do not try to take selfies or close up pictures with wildlife, you are in their habitat show respect & let them have their space.   Do not attempt to feed wildlife. 

 

Top 4 Free Day Hikes in the Winter Park & Fraser Area

*All Trail Head Directions Use Epic Mountain Sports as the Starting Point*

1. Discovery Loop (Easy) or Jim Creek (Moderate)

Directions:  From Epic Take a left onto Hwy 40 & head towards Winter Park Resort. At the stop light for Winter Park Resort you will see a sign marking "Bonfils Stanton" on the opposite side of the highway from the resort. Turn into the parking lot for Bonfils Stanton & park here this is the trail head for the Jim Creek & Discovery Loop Trails.

One Way Mileage: 1.4 miles (Discovery Loop) or 3.45 miles (Jim Creek)

Estimated One Way Hiking Time: 1 hour (Discovery Loop) or 2 hours (Jim Creek) 

Dogs Allowed: Yes

Bikes Allowed: No 

Trail Description:  Discovery Loop - The lower section of this trail is a loop trail known as Discovery Loop.  Discovery loop is a boardwalk trail and is accessible for all abilities.  Discovery loop is a nice scenic trail which takes you through willows & woods with a few bridge crossings along the way.  

Jim Creek - Begin the trail by following the Discovery loop trail from the trail head.  Views of meadows & marshes.  As you climb higher up the trail you can get some great views of Winter Park ski area just across the way. The trail ends at a small waterfall (managing expectations here, do not expect a large water feature). 

**Both Discovery Loop & Jim Creek provide great views of aspen groves, especially during the fall season when leaves are bursting with color**

2. Broome Hut / Second Creek - Moderate

Directions: From Epic go left onto Hwy 40 as if you were driving towards Denver.  You will pass the entrance to  Winter Park Resort & to Mary Jane and begin heading up Berthoud Pass.  At the 2nd switch back you'll see a trail head with a small parking lot - park here.  

One Way Mileage: .96 miles 

Estimated One Way Hiking Time: 45 minutes

Dogs Allowed: Yes on Leash 

Bikes Allowed: NO 

Trail Description:  From the trail-head start uphill, as you ascend you will notice a few foot-trails that branch off of the main trail, stick to the main trail.  The trail winds through a wooded forest with loose rock that does require a bit of scrambling at points.  As you progress, the trail will climb above tree line with views of the Continental Divide.  When you reach the top of the trail you will notice a hut (Broome Hut) & some picnic tables.  You can take a break here & spot James Peak, Parry Peak, Mt. Flora and Colorado Mines Peak.  A portion of the Broome Hut is open to the public during the day & there are public restrooms available.  

**Know for next time - you can rent out the Broome Hut & spend the night high atop the Divide, just be sure to book in advance**

3. St. Louis Lake - Difficult 

Directions: From Epic head towards Fraser.  Turn left on CR 72 (stoplight by Wendy's) turn right on Fraser Valley Pkwy.  Then, turn left on CR 73, stay on CR 73 for 8.7 miles until the road ends at the St. Louis Lake trail head. 

One Way Millage: 6 miles 

Dogs Allowed: Yes on Leash 

Bikes Allowed: Yes (up until the trail head but NOT allowed on trail) 

Trail Description:  Begin by crossing the bridge over St. Louis Creek.  You will then hike through wooded forest land as you follow the trail through a few marshes.  You will cross St. Louis Creek a couple more times on established foot bridges.  The trail then opens to a large meadow (great for wildflowers).  Stop to enjoy the view from the meadow & you'll get a direct look at the St. Louis Divide mountain range.  After you pass through the meadow you'll follow the creek until the trail forks at marker 2.  Keep to the right and follow signage for the St. Louis Lake Trail.  You'll climb up a hillside and encounter a few more creek crossings.  When you reach St. Louis Lake at trail marker 3 you can pause to take in panoramic views of the Rocky Mountains from an astounding vantage point. 

** This Trail is Spectacular for Wild Flower viewing, peak season is usually late June - mid July **

4.  Devil's Thumb - Difficult

Directions: From Epic head towards the town of Fraser on Hwy-40.  After passing through the town of Fraser look for signage for CR 8 (between mile markers 226 & 227) .  Turn right on CR 8 and stay on this road for 6.4 miles. CR 8 will become Water Board Road and turn into a single land dirt road.  Turn left and continue for just over a mile.  Turn right and follow the road until it ends at the trail head. 

One Way Mileage: 3.93 miles 

Estimated One-Way Hike Time: 3.5 Hours

Dogs Allowed: Yes on Leash 

Bikes Allowed: No 

Trail Description: Hike along Cabin Creek & take in views of Devil's Thumb Pass.  At trail marker 2 (High Lonesome Trail) the trail forks, turn RIGHT. The first portion of the trail is relatively flat & then begins to roll a bit.   The trail finds Cabin Creek again and at the creek crossing is a fork.  Cross the bridge over the creek. you can then take a rest to enjoy views of Mt. Jasper & Mt. Neva.  Continue on the trail to intersect with another creek & then begin to climb as you cross into the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area.  You will then cross the creek and begin to notice that the forest terrain changes as you cross timberline.  The climb becomes increasingly more difficult however you are rewarded with unobstructed views of the Devil's Thumb meadow & the Never Summer Mountain Range.  To reach the thumb continue climbing and pass 2 Continental Divide trail markers until you reach Devil's Thumb Pass, turn left & climb up a steep hill.  As you continue to climb the thumb will become more apparent.  The thumb (which the trail is named for) is a rock formation which resembles (you guessed it!) a thumb.  Upon reaching the thumb you will have fantastic views of Winter Park Resort, The Vasquez Mountains, Devils Thumb Lake and Mountains Bordering the Front Range. 

**This is NOT a quick hike. Look at the weather report & plan accordingly, it's best to start early & try to avoid afternoon storms**

 


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