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Looking for Moose in North Park—Exploratory Campout (or Motel) Getaway

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I took this shot looking west towards Walden from the campsite/trailhead.

 

North Park is a sparsely-populated section of Colorado near the Wyoming border that doesn't get many visitors. In the 2010 census, the were 1394 people listed as living in Jackson County. In addition to being the headwaters of the North Platte River, the basin includes numerous other rivers and streams and is rimmed by three mountain ranges—the Park Range, the Rabbit Ear Range, and the Medicine Bow Range. The idyllic-named county seat of Walden is about 3 hours (142 miles) from Denver. Moose were re-introduced here in 1979 and there's now an estimated 600 of the massive beasts wandering around the area. I can't guarantee moose sightings but they're considered hard to miss inside the state park. The huge Arapaho Federal Wildlife Refuge south of town provides habitat for numerous migratory birds.

 

We will be based at the Muddy Park Trailhead (known to locals as either Three Sisters or Elk Mountain) which is located right beside the unimaginatively-named State Forest State Park. The campsite will be at approximately 8600 feet elevation and the GPS coordinates are 40°42.824/106°01.439. There are no toilets (except for one in the little white trailer) and no potable water at the trailhead. Several trails begin there including the Muddy Park Trail to a small lake and the Jack Dickens Trail which heads up to the crest of the impressive Medicine Bow Mountains and on toward the Rawah Wilderness. Please note: These are established trails but probably don't have signs or other indicators. That's why we call this event exploratory.

 

There's at least six motels in Walden, ranging from basic at $45 a night to the delightfully plush Antlers Inn. A quick Google will turn up lots of options. There's also a couple good restaurants and a grocery store. The trailer will be heading up on Thursday to secure a campsite and folks are welcome to arrive any time during the weekend. Stop by and say hello when you reach the campsite. On Saturday night, we'll have our usual potluck/beer bust around the campfire. Expect hikes to set off from the TH around 9 AM every morning. Well-behaved dogs are always welcome but should be leashed while inside the state park. There are some lakes in the area for dogs that enjoy swimming.

 

How to get there:

 

There are three different ways you can get from the Denver/Boulder area to Walden. You can take US-287 north from Fort Collins, turning on to CO-14 at Ted's Place, then up Poudre Canyon past the oddly-named town of Gould. Or you can go up US-40 over Berthoud Pass through Granby then North on CO-125. In summer, it's possible to travel over the Trail Ridge Road from Estes Park through Grand Lake and up CO-125. Consider a loop trip and/or maybe a soak at Hot Sulfur Springs on the way back.

 

From “downtown” Walden, follow 5th Street straight East as it becomes CR-12E. Continue on as it turns into dirt road CR-19A. As the road gets closer to the mountains, it will climb up a steep grassy hill before arriving at a small valley with trees. The total distance from town is about 15 miles, all on easy dirt roads. As is becoming standard for these campouts, the maps (including the one in your your GPS) are not accurate for county roads. Follow the blue arrows at intersections and if you arrive at a ranch, you've made a wrong turn.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    I had a great time on the EXPLORATORY hikes, with an awesome group of people. Thanks to everyone for helping me with my tire issue. I ended up getting it fixed for free in Denver ( :

    June 25, 2013

  • Sheila B

    So just curious - did you see any moose?

    June 24, 2013

    • Terry G.

      We saw some moose disguised as cows.

      June 25, 2013

  • Kat

    The Exploratory part of the title was right on as the trails were not clearly marked.The over all trip was great with some very nice people attending and super views. It was funny because even the animal trails would come to abrupt end which did not make any sense. A few of the attendees had navigation tools so it was a great chance to use them and managed a nice loop. I was only able to do the hike on Sunday so missed the Muddy Park Trailhead. Thanks for the ride-up Frank and for being the nice friend you have become. I hope to do some more hikes with Terry and Becky as well.

    June 24, 2013

  • Kat

    We had a great time! Terry had the way to the meetup marked so it was very easy to find. Can't say as much for the actual trails though. It was fun watching the guys figure out where we were as the trail itself was not marked very well and we came across several dead ends. A few had navigation tools so they really got use them to find our way. Met some great people had some great food and Terry had a nice frozen treat for us when we finished with our hike on Sunday. A few of us went to Sulfer Hot Springs for a soak then had dinner at Tommy Knockers in Idaho Springs. Very nice mellow group.

    June 24, 2013

  • Terry G.

    What a great group of folks. We didn't need no stinkin' trails!

    1 · June 23, 2013

  • Clete L.

    This was an excellent opportunity to practice route finding, off trail navigation and stream crossing tactics. Great organizer and fun group!

    1 · June 23, 2013

  • Julie

    Sorry meant to update RSVP and have been focused on preparing to leave for a month. Kept hoping I could come. Have a great time! Catch ya next time.

    June 21, 2013

  • Camie

    I've got a sick kid.... I'm so sorry for the late notice.

    June 21, 2013

  • Leila

    Won't be joiningn after all, sorry.

    June 20, 2013

  • Clete L.

    My daughter and I should arrive Friday evening. Will be driving a tan Dodge truck with an over-cab camper.

    June 18, 2013

  • Terry G.

    Well, the campout is getting close and there isn't a whole lot to add. The weather in the area looks pretty good--in the high 70's every day and right around 40 at night. At the present time, there are not any fire restrictions listed for Jackson County. I'll be arriving up there on Thursday afternoon and staying through Sunday. The campsite isn't really that hard to find but again I advise against relying on maps. (As an example, the National Geographic map of the area shows the Muddy Park TH but has no roads connecting to it.) I'll be putting blue plastic arrows at intersections of the dirt roads and I've made them reflective in case anyone is coming up at night.

    I'm pretty sure my cell [masked]) will be working up there but I doubt I will be able to receive voice mail. So if I don't answer, try calling back in a while. Hope to see you there.

    June 18, 2013

  • Joanne E.

    Family stuff came up. Have fun!

    June 17, 2013

  • Lisa

    Got last minute visitors

    June 15, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I will be flying in Friday afternoon. So I will stay at motel in Walden. But I plan to hike and camp Saturday.

    June 15, 2013

  • Becky

    I would like to carpool - anyone interested? I can leave anytime on Friday. I don't have to be back in Denver until Monday, 1pm.

    June 10, 2013

  • Kat

    Looking forward to the camp out. I will bring someone with me, either Tracy or my 15 year old grandson. Does anyone know if the ground soft enough for tent stakes?

    June 4, 2013

    • Terry G.

      The ground is fairly soft and I don't think you'd have any problems using stakes.

      June 4, 2013

  • Lori

    I'd like to tent camp, how many sites will be available?

    May 15, 2013

    • Terry G.

      Lori, it's just a big open area and people can set up their tents anywhere. So I guess there's no limit.

      May 15, 2013

  • Clete L.

    Hi Terry - OK to bring my 12 yr old daughter? We would do easier hikes from camp, and get to camp until 9 pm Friday. Feel free to call me at[masked] if you'd like to discuss. Txs!

    May 15, 2013

    • Terry G.

      Clete, your daughter will be welcome. It's usually a pretty mellow crowd. We'll set up some hikes but folks are free to arrive and hike as they wish.

      May 15, 2013

  • Kerry S.

    Will know more definately as it gets closer to this date.

    May 14, 2013

  • Don B.

    Terry, how long are you staying up there?

    May 14, 2013

    • Terry G.

      Don, I'm going up on Thursday and probably will return on Sunday evening.

      May 14, 2013

  • Lisa

    Will have the pups with me if that's okay...will keep them leashed if I go in the park!

    May 14, 2013

  • Frank R.

    I will come up on Sat. after I arrive in Denver at 10:30 am.

    May 14, 2013

  • Lynelle

    The Poudre Canyon drive is simply gorgeous especially when you get to the "top" of Cameron Pass. And the possibility of seeing moose in this area is excellent. They hang out in the willows at the top of the pass.

    May 14, 2013

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