Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Lower Straight Creek

Distance: 4 miles round trip (much further possible)
Elevation: 9,385 ft-9,885 ft
Elevation Gain: 500 ft
Bathroom at Trailhead: No
Dogs: Off leash
Date Hiked: 1 July 2013

One of the open meadows along the lower portion of the Straight Creek Trail
So why you ask would any outdoor lover worth their Nalgeen bottles want to hike on a dirt road that parallels noisy, dirty, aggravating I-70? Because sometimes we humans sacrifice our sensibilities for our four-legged companions who don't like to stay on the trail, disregard wilderness boundaries, and otherwise make a nuisance of themselves. For those reasons, Lower Straight Creek is an ideal guilt-free afterwork outing.

The trailhead.  The route starts at the gate on the left
Crossing Straight Creek
The Forest Service says that to get to the trailhead, take exit 205 off of I-70 (Silverthorne/Dillon) and travel south on highway 6 toward Dillon. In approximately 1.2 miles turn left at the traffic intersection of Hwy 6 and Evergreen Road. Then make an immediate right onto County Road 51 and follow this for approximately 1.7 miles until it ends at a gate and the trailhead parking area.

The Straight Creek Trail is an old road so it is wide and rutted in parts
A truck cruises by along I-70
The Straight Creek Trail parallels I-70 the entire way up to Eisenhower Tunnel but I only went up 2 miles. Because of recent clear cutting, there are some wide open expanses jealously guarded by Marmots and a few darker, more confining segments that at times felt downright primeval. In the more open areas are some nice views of Buffalo Mountain.

Looking back at Buffalo Mountain
I-70 is, as you might expect, very close but up 300 ft-600 ft berm and at times much lower but further away. I paid close attention to Ginger, the hyper one, to make sure she stayed away. Fortunately, the shrubs, trees, and critters near the creek were far more enticing.

Ginger searches for critters in the downed trees.  Even after this outing, she still got me up at 6am to go again. Geesh!
Be aware that the trailhead serves two trails. Lower Straight Creek starts across the bridge to the left.  South Straight Creek starts on the right hand side of the creek.

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