Sunday, September 8, 2013

Hiking Staunton State Park

I haven’t been back on a bike yet but its been on my mind just about every day since I did. Hopefully soon!

This morning Woody and I hit the road (somewhat) early and headed to Staunton State Park near Pine, CO. Staunton is Colorado’s newest State Park having just opened in May of this year. While the park totals nearly 4,000 acres, the first 1,720 acres were bequeathed to the state of Colorado by a woman named Frances Hornbrook Staunton in 1986. It’s taken quite a while for the state to open the park as they needed to purchase additional land, create access to the park and create the wonderful trails that we were able to hike.

Staunton State Park - Bulging Elk

Many of the trails are wide to allow for hikers, runners, mountain bikers, dogs and horses. There is also rock climbing in this park, but only specific places with trail access. The beautiful park includes a waterfall, Elk Falls, which isn’t yet accessible via trail (it’s still being created) but through a series of trails and a round trip of a bit over 9 miles it’s possible to get to the Elk Falls Overlook, about 9,200 feet in elevation (although it seemed like a lot higher than that).

Staunton State Park - Elk Falls-001

The trails are varied but heading out to the overlook most of the time you’re going up. And up. And up. Which, yes, makes sense. But some of it is pretty darn steep. By the time we were getting close to the trailhead on the way back my quads were yelling at me! Even Woody admitted that he was feeling it a bit!

Staunton State Park - Elk Falls Overlook

The last 550 feet were pretty much straight up but the view was worth it. The trails were both shady and sunny, but the temperature was fairly cool in the mountains so it wasn’t horribly hot (while it was 93’ in Denver) but there was a pretty strong wind at the top which was very refreshing.

Staunton State Park - Matt Lisa

The State Parks system has done a great job publicizing the new park as it was fairly busy and we saw a lot of people – and dogs and horses – along the way. Thankfully there was a nice biker at the top who offered to take our picture!

Staunton State Park - Lisa

Staunton State Park - Matt

We hung out at the top for a bit to enjoy the view then started the trip back down. The trip back was quicker than on the way out, and not just because I had no idea where we were going and what was ahead. While the rocky path was slightly difficult to navigate at some points in our old running shoes with no traction, it’s definitely faster to go downhill than up!

Staunton State Park Elk Falls Pond

In all the hike took us about 3.5 hours. It was a great way to spend the morning and get outside in the fresh air. We definitely want to go back to explore a few of the other trails and check out the falls up close and personal when the Elk Falls trail opens.

What were the highlights of your weekend? * Do you prefer college or pro football? * Are you training for a fall race?


Lisa said...

Wow, that is beautiful! I would love to visit an area like that. Maybe one day! :) The highlight of my weekend was learning not to guzzle cold water after a run because well, you will throw up! I LOVE SEC Football!! I am training for my first marathon in November.

Lisa said...

That looks like a beautiful hike!