New Meetup: El Dorado Canyon Hike and BBQ: Rattlesnake Gulch Trail

From: user 6.
Sent on: Tuesday, February 2, 2010 7:11 PM
Announcing a new Meetup for NOWHERE YOU ARE!

What: El Dorado Canyon Hike and BBQ: Rattlesnake Gulch Trail

When: Sunday, February 14,[masked]:00 AM

Where: (A location has not been chosen yet.)

Members of Colorado Camping & Getaways, Second Wind Hiking and Hittin' The Trails will be joining us also.

Round-Trip Length: 3.8 miles roundtrip
Start - End Elevation: 6,087' - 6,717' (6,727' max elevation to Crags Hotel :: 7,080' max elevation on the loop)
Elevation Change:+630' net elevation gain to Crags Hotel (+1,068' total roundtrip gain for all attractions)
Skill Level: Easy-Moderate

El Dorado Canyon is quite possibly one of the most romantic places to be in Colorado on Valentine?s Day. El Dorado Canyon is world-famous for its rock climbing. Climbers can be seen on the steep red rocks neighboring this trail. Occasionally, if the time is right, you'll see or hear trains traveling through the canyon. There are four main trails that differ in length and difficulty. We?ll be taking the Rattlesnake Gulch Trail first and if you want to you can always hike the other trails also. There are restrooms and picnic tables.

There is a $4 - $6 park fee per car. I believe it would be a good idea if we met somewhere outside the park. The Dowdy Draw Trailhead is a couple miles before you reach the El Dorado pay station and is a good place to meet and carpool in to save money, gas and parking space.

I will arrive earlier in the morning to save a couple enclosed picnic areas, tables and BBQs. Bring your own food. You don?t have to hike to BBQ and you don?t have to BBQ to hike. Whatever you want to do!
About the hike and it?s history: The Rattlesnake Gulch Trail follows an old wagon road known as ?Crags Boulevard? up the south wall of Eldorado Canyon to the Crags Hotel site, which was completed in 1908 and mysteriously burned down in 1913. Though little remains of this historical curiosity, visitors will enjoy special insight to the canyon?s storied past and intriguing geologic origins.
The Rattlesnake Gulch Trail heads east on level track to the Fowler Trail split (.12 miles: 6,095?), where it banks right and begins a winding, moderately steep climb up the south wall of Eldorado Canyon. The forest periodically thins along mild grades, each an opportunity to study the canyon?s intriguing geology. Notable are the colorful Cadillac formations along the southeast wall, jagged ridges named so for their resemblance to 1950s car fins.

The trail levels through a small clearing where the Crags Hotel once stood (1.2 miles: 6,717?), a surprising location given the area?s modest size and challenging access. An historical marker details the hotel?s history and construction. Those seeking a longer trip may continue on the Rattlesnake Loop Trail, an additional 1.4 miles that includes a short spur to the Continental Divide Overlook. The promise of a grand overlook is perhaps over-stated, nevertheless a quiet place with commanding northwesterly views across the canyon and a small swath of distant snowcapped peaks.

The mixed pine forest soon clears with a good look at a precarious section of train tracks, Union Pacific?s Moffat Road Rail Line, which began construction in 1902 for eastern plain community access to the mountains. This line still operates today as the Denver & Rio Grande route from Denver to Winter Park and beyond.

Directions: From Denver, take I-25 north to US 36 west, toward Boulder. Exit at Louisville-Superior and turn left at the light. Take the first sign onto CO 170 to Eldorado Canyon or you can head off onto CR 93 in Golden for about 12 miles to the El Dorado Springs turnoff. After paying the park fee , travel 1 mile through the canyon to the visitor center where you'll find parking and picnic tables. I'll see you on your arrival!
Have a great week everybodybiggrin

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