Elevation: 8,647 ft - 10,200 ft (by barometric GPS)/10,400 ft (by Summit Hiker)
Elevation Gain: 1,553 ft (by GPS), 1,768 ft (by Summit Hiker)
A hike up Acorn Creek north of Silverthorne will make you want to quit your job, sell your house, put your mother in a home, and move to Colorado! The views of the Gore Range from this moderate hike are stunning to say the least. Couple that with blankets of early season wildflowers and near solitude, and you have the makings for a life changing event.
The trailhead is located north on hwy 9 for approximately 10.6 miles. After you cross the Blue River you will immediately turn right onto CR 2400 (Ute Park Rd). At the first junction, continue left following the trailhead sign. Then turn right onto FDR 2402 (Rodeo Dr) and travel approximately 0.6 miles to the trailhead/parking lot in a broad Sagebrush valley filled by mid-June with Lupine, a Sagebrush loving wildflower.
True to the guidebooks, the trail passes through several climatic zones that include the aforementioned Sagebrush, a lush riparian stream, Aspen forest, pine forest, and grass covered ridges. The trail climbs relentlessly, so a moderate level of fitness is required to get the best views. Turning around periodically one can see the Gore Range, but the best view by far is at the ridge.
There is a long segment with logs sunk into the ground every yard or so. This is looking back down the trail in the early part of that segment.
Some of the distance milestones along this trail include a drop down to Acorn Creek within a half mile with a less than sturdy log bridge over the creek; the entrance to the Ptarmigan Wilderness at 1.8 miles (listed as 2.0 miles in the guide book), a wooden trail sign pointing to the right at 2.0 miles, a very short but steep up shortly thereafter, and a dead end into a a gully around (I did not mark it) 2.3 miles.
At the gully, turn left. Ahead is the "ridge with a view". At the top of the ridge is the small aspen grove where we turned around.
This is a short ridge walk right after the very steep segment. We were thinking this might be the destination but it is another 0.3 miles beyond and up and to the left.
Looking down into the gully. With all the Aspens, this trail will be spectacular in the fall. The final destination of the trail is to the right of the peak in the middle of the picture.
We only saw two other groups on the trail, one of whom ended up sharing our ridge as we ate our peanut butter sandwiches. Had I had a barka lounger, you would have never dragged me off the ridge. As it was, the slightly lumpy, slightly prickly plot of earth I chose for my alfresco dining spot was luring me into complacency despite the building clouds. Just in time, I pulled my body up and headed back down. By the time we reached civilization, the storms had arrived and our plans for an outdoor meal in Silverthorne were squashed in a sea of moody and rumbling clouds.
Elaine is standing a little lower than where we ended up eating. We actually went all the way up the ridge and through the Aspen Grove you see in the distance.
In an attempt at fair disclosure, be advised that the houses near the Acorn Creek trailhead sell in the millions, so perhaps it is better to bring Mom and her Social Security check along when you drop everything and move here. Either way, Acorn Creek awaits you.