Friday, February 19, 2016

Rock Creek Snowshoe

Distance: 4.5 miles round trip
Elevation: 8,765 ft - 9,896 ft
Elevation Gain: 1,131 ft (net),  1500 ft  (cum)
Dogs: Off leash
Bathroom at Trailhead: No
Tags: #snowshoe, #coloradooutdoors, #allenspark

Rock Creek Road near Allenspark, CO
Rock Creek Road near Allenspark, CO is great place to snowshoe if you don't like crowds and don't mind the occasional snowmobile. Rock Creek Road (or FSR 1162) starts at the end of Ski Road (CO 107) where it meets FSR 1161 (St. Vrain Trailhead). After an initial decent, the road heads relentlessly upwards before dead ending just below a saddle between two 11,000 foot peaks. From the road you won't see any of these peaks but you will see towering spruce trees and a snow covered creek that gurgles pleasantly along the route.

Terrain map of the area
Parking for this snowshoe is limited, but rarely used.  A few cars can park on the edge of FSR 1161 and three to four more can park along Ski Road itself, which as a county road is usually plowed.

Looking back on a more open area towards the beginning of the route.
From the parking area, the route descends until it crosses a creek and then begins a slow climb upwards. Depending on conditions, the road can be iced over, filled with fluffy drifts, or bare in spots. It is used by local skiers who cruise up and down in marathon laps.

Rocks and Aspens 
Starting out there are campsites along the left hand side of the road while rock formations and aspens dominate the hillsides to the right. At 1.2 miles (640 ft gain) is a wooden fence near a creek crossing. Only a tenth of a mile beyond this is the first switchback and 1.75 miles is the next switchback (973 ft gain). It is two miles to a small meadow.

A more open area
The further you ascend the larger the trees seem to become. The road itself becomes more narrow so the trees begin to close in creating a mystical tableau.

Ice free area of the creek
While Rock Creek will not wow you with views, it usually has snow and is off the beaten track. Its steady ascent will give you a work out to boot.

Towering trees near the upper reaches of the road

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