Sunday, January 18, 2009

Snowshoeing: The Big South Trail

Even though it was 60 degrees in Fort Collins today I decided to head in to the mountains to do some snowshoeing. This was only my second time on snowshoes and I have been looking forward to snowshoeing again. I headed toward the Cameron Pass area off highway 14.

Having left Fort Collins later then I wanted to, I decided to snowshoe The Big South Trail, named for the Big South Fork of the Cache la Poudre River. It’s the first trail with significant snow accumulation along highway 14, located about 47 Miles from the junction of highways 287 and 14.

Parked along highway 14

I was surprised that there was no snow what so ever on the road all the way up to the trail head, not even at the higher elevations. I arrived at the Big South Trailhead and parked the car along highway 14 and since I wanted to park the car as far away from the road as possible, I ended up getting stuck in the deep snow along the shoulder. Like really stuck! The more I tried to steer away from the deep snow and ice, the more my car got pulled in to it. I really need to start carrying a snow shovel. About 15-20 minutes later I was finally unstuck. I parked the car again, this time away from the snow, grabbed all my gear and headed to the trail head.

The Big South Trailhead

You’d think it would be way colder up here in the mountains, but it felt like it was about 50 degrees. The Big South Trailhead sits at about 8,440 feet in elevation.

In 10 miles this trail reaches Rocky Mountain National Park

I got my snowshoes strapped on and got going. The snow on the trail was very well packed and honestly, I didn’t even need the snowshoes. I was a bit warm starting out on the trail, the sun was beating down on me. I definitely brought the wrong gear today. I should have brought a fleece jacket instead of my Gor-tex Northface shell.

At the beginning of the trail

All I had on was a turtle neck and the Northface shell and I was a bit warm. But about half an hour later as I continued on the trail and continued deeper in to the canyon, there wasn’t much sun hitting the trail and the temperature became pleasant.

Poudre River covered by snow

Taking a break before turning around

Small hills along the trail

This trail was very narrow at times and some portions of the trail were very close to the edge.
The trail climbed gently, at times the Poudre River was right next to the trail, and at other times the trail was way above the river. Most of the time you couldn’t even see the Poudre River, it was covered by a blanket of snow, only revealing flowing water in a few spots.

The trail close to the edge

I read that this is a very popular trail but I only saw a hand full of people on the trail today, most of them I saw as I was heading back to the car in the early afternoon as they were heading away from the trailhead.

Poudre River to the right of the trail, covered by snow

On the way back Poudre River to the left of the trail, covered by snow

I didn’t get very far today, maybe two or so miles in to the trail before I turned around. This trail is fairly long and enters the Rocky Mountain National Park 10 miles from the trailhead and climbs some 1,110 feet in elevation. I think this would be a great trail to do in the summer time when the river is flowing.

Some sections of the trail ended up not having enough snow for snowshoes, so I took my snowshoes off and experimented with strapping them to my backpack. So technically, I think I only snowshoed about 2 miles, and hiked the rest.

1 comment:

Alfred said...

OMG!! You have found amazing place for snowshoeing... Great!!