Saturday, February 16, 2013

Meyer Ranch Winter Hike

Distance: 4.3 miles round trip
Elevation: 7,940 ft - 8,770 ft
Elevation Gain: 830 ft (net), 899 ft (cumulative)
Date Hiked: 3 Feb 2013
Bathroom at Trailhead: Yes, but up the trail, not in the parking lot
Dogs: On leash (Jefferson County Open Space)

Meyer Ranch
Meyer Ranch is a small open space on Hwy 285 near Conifer CO that is very popular with the locals. We did this trail on a cool Superbowl Sunday and expected to have it all to ourselves. Instead, the parking lot was packed and the trail was far from empty. I can't image what it would be like on a nice, dry sunny day.

This open space blankets a pine-shaded, north-facing hillside, which means that while the areas to the north of Hwy 285 were bone dry, this trail was covered in snow. Microspikes came in very handy, and we did not see anyone with out them. 

We decided to try Meyer Ranch because we really needed some close-to-Denver elevation gain. While 800 ft is not a lot, it is better than a lot of other trails we have already tried. The area consists of two loops stacked on top of each other followed by a longer lollypop loop that shoots straight up the hillside. 

The downside of Meyer Ranch is that it is always in the trees. The Jefferson County brochure talked about great views to the northwest from the uppermost trail, but that is really not true. There is one spot with a log bench with some views but this is lower than the highest point and the views were not that great. In summer, the shade is probably a blessing, but in winter, it made for a colder experience than we were expecting.

Parking lot
The trails in Meyer Ranch head up across this meadow and up the pine covered hill
Since we were interested in maximum elevation gain, we took the Owl Perch Trail (0.7 miles) to the eastern side of the Lodgepole Loop (0.2 miles), then the uppermost side of the Sunny Aspen Trail (0.5 miles) to the Old Ski Run (0.7 miles plus a 0.6 mile loop). Note that total distance, which comes from the brochure, is 4.8 miles. My GPS registered 4.3.

Typical snowy segment
The one view point
At 2.25 miles, which was near the end of the upper most loop taken counter clockwise, is a small spur trail to a large pile of boulders. This area was open, sunny and dry. While it would make a nice lunch spot for a large group, some unfortunately placed trees blocked the views from the top of the pile itself.

A trail segment on the upper trail
The boulder pile
I have driven by Meyer Ranch countless times and now my curiosity is satisfied. With the dog leash restrictions and forested aspect of the trail it won't become a favorite, but it doesn't mean it can't be yours. It would make for a fun and easy trail run.


Anonymous said...

What are WFR and ESTJ in your profile, and how do you find so much time to travel so much while still working? I've been to a lot of your Colorado locations and love all your pics and posts!

sylvia murphy said...

WFR is Wilderness First Responder
ESTJ is a Myers Briggs profile

Anonymous said...

Just discovered this awesome blog! Great work.
Can you tell whether there are designated "picnic" tables in the ranch?

sylvia murphy said...

As I recall there was a slew of picnic tables.