Sunday, July 6, 2014

Tanglewood - Rosalie Trail

Distance: 5.6 miles round trip
Elevation: 9,340 ft - 10,405 ft
Elevation Gain: 1,065 ft (net),  1,150 ft (cumulative)
Bathroom at the Trailhead: No
Dogs: Off leash until the wilderness boundary at 2.8 miles
Date hiked: 28 June 2014

Views of the ridge line to the south from the western side of the Rosalie Trail
The Tanglewood to Rosalie Trail near Baily Colorado is a popular backpacking route into the Mount Evans Wilderness. I had no idea of this of course until I showed up at the trailhead to find at least 40 cars in the large dirt parking lot.  It was so crowded in fact that people had started creating three rows of cars, trapping the middle row!

The parking lot
The Tanglewood Trail heads due north into the Mt. Evans Wilderness and climbs to the top of a saddle at 12,000 ft, while the Rosalie Trail cuts left and winds its way between 12,000 ft peaks before finally coming out on Guanella Pass near Mt. Beirstadt.  The junction of these two trails is 1.2 miles and 450 ft up the Tanglewood Trail and is marked by a large and obvious sign.

The log crossing over Tanglewood Creek
Tanglewood Creek is pleasant and there are plenty of places to get close to the water.
The Rosalie Trail is by far the most attractive of the pair. The Tanglewood trail is very rocky and monotonous. It reminded me a lot of North Tenmile Creek near Frisco. The creek itself is pleasant, however, and was raging with the spring runoff. I ran into several groups with very small children, who most likely popped up from the nearby campground. No one was letting their kids play by the water though.

Heading up the Rosalie Trail
While there are several bridges that cross the creek, the first crossing was on a series of logs that were slippery and filled with debris. I ended up getting down on my toosh and crabbing over them rather than try to walk on their round, slick surfaces. When there is less water in the creek, it would be possible to walk across the shallow area nearby. 

Yellow Golden Banner dotted the trail, which became quite serene after an initial steep ascent.
Looking up the hillside to the north. If you scrambled to the top, you could see Mt. Rosalie.
The Rosalie Trail starts out on an old logging road. It is wide, steep, and just as rocky as the Tanglewood Trail. It levels out however, after a half mile or so and becomes a soft dirt track through young Aspens. At other times the trail hugs an open hillside with occasional views of the 12,000 ft ridge to the south. While Mt. Rosalie is just to the other side of the hillside, it is not visible without a scramble to the top.

Another typical segment in Aspens
On this trip, I turned around at the wilderness boundary (at 2.8 miles/10,357 ft) because I had my dog with me who needed to run off leash. Since I had already hiked several miles up the Tanglewood Trail before diverting up the Rosalie Trail, that was fine with me as well. I would like to go further though to see if the views improve. Note, that it seemed to me that the location of the wilderness boundary was a little further beyond what is drawn on the Trails Illustrated map.

A segment in willows. The trail is actually a running stream.
To get to the trailhead, drive west from Denver on US 285 for approximately 28 miles. Turn right onto CO Road 43A (at the Loaf and Jug), which quickly becomes CO Road 43. Travel 6.8 miles to a "Y" in the road. Bear left (downwards) for another drive 2 miles. At the sign for the Deer Creek campground, bear right (there is a tiny sign pointing to the Trailhead. This narrow, rocky road dead ends into the large parking lot.

The Rosalie Trail eventual descends downwards to the wilderness boundary.
With all the Aspens that encroach on the upper portion of the trail, it seems like this hike is better suitable to the fall, when the air is cooler and the colors dominate. As it is, however, there are very few trails close to Denver where dogs can run free, so I suspect I will need to return to the area at some point in the future.


mtnrunner2 said...

I ran that trail for the first time a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it quite a bit. The terrain beyond your turnaround point is wide-open tundra with scattered willow bushes and a rough trail through the middle. The high point is maybe a mile across. From the top you can see over to the Guanella Pass area, and there are some nice views of the steep south sides of Mt. Evans and Bierstadt.

sylvia murphy said...

Ah very good to know. Sounds like a good excuse to go further...just leave the hyper one behind.