Top 10 Things You Need To Know About the Little Brooklyn Lake Guard Station

The Little Brooklyn Guard Station.

This iconic cabin in the Snowy Range is a place that you need to experience. I stayed at this cabin twice this winter and here are a few things that might help you plan a weekend there.

  • Book the cabin early. You can book it up to 6 months in advance, if you’re looking to reserve it for a special day then it might be worth it to get up at midnight to make your reservation. I’m not joking. Currently renting the cabin costs $40.00 per night. I did learn that if you change your reservation recereation.gov you’ll get hooked you up with a big fat fee even if it’s still months in advance. I want to say the fee $50.00 so beware of that little extra fee.
  • The cabin has 1 futon, 1 set of bunk beds, and 3 single beds. Say hello to the “hobbit bed”–fun for kids and that’s about it unless you want to make an epic bunk bed fort, which we did (of course!).
  • The cabin description on recreation.gov isn’t completely up to date. As of a few weeks ago there is no refrigerator or gas heating. Neither of which are a problem. If you go during the winter let nature be your fridge. If you go during the summer pack along a cooler and sufficient ice. The cabin does have a wood burning stove which can reach sauna-like temperatures, you won’t be cold in this cabin once you get that stove fired up.
  • There are mice in this cabin, so keep it clean and pack your food up well, especially at night.
  • Be prepared to ski or snowshoe in from October to the end of May. When we went a few weeks ago, I dropped Al and the kids off near the turn off to the Mountain Meadows Cabins and then parked the car at the Green Rock trailhead and skied up from there to meet them. It worked out great, especially if you’re heading in with kiddos who might be good on skis or snowshoes for just a mile or two.
  • Bring a sled in the winter, a hammock, fishing pole and a good book in the summer. The sledding might be the best part about staying at the cabin. This place has the most scenic sledding ever.
  • This cabin gets a lot of use and abuse, and I doubt that it’s high on the priority list for maintenance and upgrades. But it’s actually pretty clean–or was left clean the two times I’ve stayed there. I pack along sheets to cover the futon and beds, mostly because dogs are allowed in the cabin and I’m allergic to dogs so putting a buffer between me and any residual pet hair is a good thing. I also have a thing for cleanliness…so if you’re a neat freak or an allergy sufferer trust me, bring some sheets.
  • This cabin has a nice supply of cookware, pots, pans, cooking and eating utensilss, plates, mugs etc. So there’s no need to pack that stuff in or drive it in if you head there in the summer. But don’t forget garbage bags, toilet paper, and matches. Fire starter is good to have in the winter too. Previous occupants are supposed to stock the wood pile but you might find yourself stuck with wet or no kindling.
  • This cabin is not a place to go if you’re looking for peace and quiet in the winter. There is a lot of snowmobile traffic on the way to the cabin and around the cabin.  For the most part, we like snowmobilers, they make a nice packed surface to ski on and most of them slow down and are courteous. But snowmobiles are noisy and there is a constant hum of snowmobiles in the area during daylight hours. If you’re looking for solitude and quiet go in May when there’s still enough snow to ski or snowshoe in but not much left for snowmobilers.
  • Bring a hammock! I’m serious. The beams on the cabin’s porch are the perfect distance apart for a lazy nap in a hammock.

WELCOME (2)

Have you stayed at the Little Brooklyn Lake Guard Station? What advice or tips would you give to those who want to stay there?

How to get to Hidden Falls

Hidden Falls.

It’s a cool place and we get a lot of questions about how to get to the falls.

Friends don't let friends Introducing (3)

Curt Gowdy State Park does a great job of marking trails and trail intersections, but it can be tricky to find the best route. We see people up there all the time looking for the waterfall and on the wrong trail.

We thought we’d dedicate a post to Hidden Falls and give you a few tips for this hike. We’re going to break it down into the most popular route, the easiest route, and a fun loop.

Most Scenic/Popular Route:

  • Start from the Aspen Grove Trailhead. If you look across the parking lot (on the archery range side) you’ll see a trail sign and another smaller sign that says “waterfall.”

Hidden Falls 1

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  • Follow this trail up and through the meadow and then the trees.

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  • You’ll come to the first intersection,  but it’s well marked. Just keep heading down the trail.

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  • You’ll climb a little bit farther and then come out in a meadow. The next intersection is where people make a wrong turn. Hang a hard left and keep on climbing. You’ll want to stay on the trail and not turn left but do it. This intersection is not currently marked with a “waterfall” sign.

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  • The trail will climb a little bit higher before it starts to descend through the forest. As you get into the forest you’ll notice  more rock formations, thick, green vegetation (and wonder if you’re still in Wyoming) and hear the sound of water rushing through Crow Creek.

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  • The next intersection you’ll come to will be down, close to the creek. Your instinct will be to keep hiking low along the creek but the trail actually makes a hard right turn and starts switchbacking up again. This intersection is marked with a “waterfall” sign and hang in there- you’re on the right path.

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  • Shortly after this intersection you’ll come to a bridge, this intersection will give you the option to either continue along Crow Creek trail or head on Alberts Alley. Keep trekking along the Crow Creek trail, at this point you’re less than 1/2 mile from the waterfall.

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  • You’ll come to another intersection but keep on moving down Crow Creek.
  • IMG_6991You’ll  know you’re almost at the waterfall when you start to hear it, and the rock formations become dense. The last few feet up to the waterfall follow a stone staircase.

On this route the waterfall is just about 2 miles from the trailhead.

  • To get back to the Aspen Grove Trailhead simply retrace your steps.
  • You can do this trail with a lightweight jogging stroller like a Chariot but I don’t recommend it. You’ll have to carry the stroller over several rocky places and have any child exit the Chariot and walk along several portions of the trail. It’s much easier to carry a child or double carry two children along this route.

Chariot

Easiest/Kid-Friendly Route:

  • If you’re looking for an easier kid-friendly route (albeit less scenic) park at the Aspen Grove trailhead and walk through the horse stables.

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  • Link up with the Lariat Loop and follow it through a meadow. It’s not much of a trail in places.

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  • Eventually, you’ll come to the intersection where the Lariat Loop links up with Albert’s Alley. Follow Albert’s Alley down the meadow.

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  • Follow Albert’s Alley down to this bridge. This is the same bridge you’d link up with if you came on this trail via Crow Creek.

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  • At the bridge hang a right and get onto Crow Creek trail.
  • Not far from the bridge is another trail intersection, keep on truckin’ down Crow Creek trail.

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  • You’ll  know you’re almost at the waterfall when you start to hear it, and the rock formations become dense. The last few feet up to the waterfall follow a stone staircase.
  • The waterfall is just about 2 miles from the trailhead on this route too.
  • To get back to the Aspen Grove Trailhead simply retrace your steps.
  • This is a much more Chariot-friendly trail, without a lot of boulders, roots or other obstacles. Your child will be able to ride in a Chariot until the last few hundred feet to the falls. Bicycles are not allowed on the Lariat Loop but the park has said nothing about jogging strollers, so there’s some gray area there. I figure that a parent hauling a toddler in a stroller isn’t moving at the speed of a mountain biker and has plenty of time to give equestrians and horses their space.

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The Loop: 

For a fun 4-mile-loop I recommend heading down to the waterfall via Crow Creek & Pinball and heading up via Alberts Alley and Lariat trail. This will show you the most terrain diversity and loops are always fun!

Pro-Tips:

  • Bring sandals or water shoes  if you’re hiking with kids because they will want to splash in the water. I just stripped my kids down to their skivvies and packed their Keens to wear in the water. After we played in the water I wrapped them in our rain gear (because I wasn’t about to pack the extra weight from towels) and sat them on a rock to warm up and dry off after playing in the water.

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  • Some signs at intersections say “waterfall” and some signs don’t. Look at a map before you strike out (or print off a FREE map and bring it with you) before you go.
  • Another way for easy navigation is to download a map of Curt Gowdy State Park on your mobile phone. Just follow the blue bubble, it’ll pinpoint your location onto a map as long as you have service. We had cell service for most of the hike except the last mile or so along Crow Creek to the falls.

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Overall this is a fun hike through some interesting terrain to a fun waterfall! Kids love the waterfall and climbing on the big boulders along the route. Just know where you’re going before you leave the trailhead and don’t depend on “waterfall” signs and you’ll easily find this hidden gem.

Have you been to Hidden Falls? What tips do you have for the trek there or the route?

What’s Bloomin’ in the Snowy Range

Yesterday we headed to the Snowies to hike from the Little Laramie trailhead. Instead, we got distracted by wildflowers and ended up wandering around from trailhead to trailhead seeing what was blooming and where it was blooming.

So, instead of a trail report we’re bringing you the first ever Just Trails wildflower report.

Here’s what’s blooming right now in the Snowy Range.

Corner Mountain - Little Laramie

Corner Mountain / Little Laramie Trailhead

Yes, if you’re looking to catch a glimpse of these beautiful yellow flowers in full bloom head to the Little Laramie Trailhead. There are a few at Corner Mountain, but not nearly as many as Little Laramie.

Corner Mountain - Little Laramie (1) Corner Mountain - Little Laramie (2) Corner Mountain - Little Laramie (3) If you’re lucky you might be able to catch a glimpse of a Purple Fringe too. We only saw one, nestled underneath a tree right on the side of the trail. These flowers are simply amazing!Corner Mountain - Little Laramie (4)

Brooklyn Lake Area / North Fork Trailhead / St. Alban’s Chapel

Corner Mountain - Little Laramie

Right now the most diverse assortment of wildflowers in the area is around Brooklyn Lake, the most common wildflower being skunkweed, of course.Corner Mountain - Little Laramie (4) Corner Mountain - Little Laramie (5) Corner Mountain - Little Laramie (6) Corner Mountain - Little Laramie (2) Corner Mountain - Little Laramie (1) Corner Mountain - Little Laramie (3)

Lake Marie Falls/ Lake Marie

There still isn’t a whole lot blooming around Lake Marie, but you can catch a few wildflowers right where areas of recent snowmelt. It is neat seeing a patch of snow and flowers blooming at the same time. We think we saw the first glacier lily of the summer….

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1 copy(ps I know, lily only has one “l”)
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Barber Lake Road/ Green Rock/ Pine Campground

If you’re a fan of lupine I have two words for you: Pine Campground. That’s right they are blooming everywhere near this campground!

Corner Mountain - Little Laramie (1)

Corner Mountain - Little Laramie (3) Corner Mountain - Little Laramie (2)What else is blooming in the area? Should we check out Vedauwoo and Pole Mountain next? I think so.

(p.s. if you’re curious. The road to Brooklyn Lake is still pretty snowy and it’ll be a few more weeks before we can get into Sugarloaf.

 

Trail Report: Headquarters Trail/Crow Creek Loop

We’d been getting reports of muddy and icky trails on Pole Mountain so yesterday morning we pointed our car in that direction and headed out from the Summit or Headquarters Trailhead West.

When we got to the trailhead instead of heading up headquarters trail we headed down toward to the Crow Creek Loop.

Trail Report Headquarters TrailCrow Creek Loop

While we were able to get about 1/5 mile of dry trails in that’s about it.

This overturned tree smack dab in the middle of the trail is your clue to turn back.

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Or else you’ll be hiking through this. Pristine and beautiful but a total swamp.

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Here were the trail conditions.

  • Date: 6/10/15
  • Time: 9:00 am -10:30 am
  • Temperature: 50-55°F
  • Weather: Cloudy
  • Wind: Calm
  • Trails Hiked: Portions of Headquarters & Crow Creek Loop
  • Trail Conditions: Trails were mostly dry with just a few areas of deep mud until the marshy area along the creek. There are several down trees along the trail too. This trail is going to need some time to dry up before it’s accessible. Instead just head the opposite direction on headquarters trail from this trailhead, stay high, and you’ll be golden.

#hikelaramie

We do have a free trail map for the entire Pole Mountain Area or check out our app and Trail Deck.

What are the other conditions in the area?

 

Trail Report: Medicine Bow Rail Trail (Lake Owen trailhead) 6/8/15

Lake Owen is one of my favorite places to hike with kids near Laramie.

I like it because I can usually get some good mileage along the rail trail if I promise to let my kids splash around in the lake and play on the caboose at the trailhead after the hike.

Yesterday was no exception.

trail report

We were on the trail by 7:30 am headed from the Lake Owen trailhead to the Lincoln Gulch trailhead. We didn’t make it all the way but hiked a few miles down the trail and then back up  finishing with a loop around the lake.

The trails were dry, (a perfect place if you’re looking for a nice, easy mountain bike ride), the weather was pleasant. We also couldn’t believe all of the amazing regrowth after last year’s fire near the lake and there were wildflowers everywhere!

fire regrowth

A private road which we usually use to access the Lake Owen trailhead is now closed, causing a detour through Albany but don’t let it keep you away from Lake Owen this summer.

Oh, and this sign is wrong. From this point, it’s only 1/2 mile to the Lake Own trailhead from here.

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And we’d like to thank some chump who decided to build a campfire ring on the trail. What?

trail conditions

Here were the trail conditions.

  • Date: 6/28/15
  • Time: 7:30 am -11:00 pm
  • Temperature: 50-65°F (ish).
  • Weather: Sunny, clouded up toward the end of our hike
  • Wind: Slight breeze
  • Trails Hiked: Medicine Bow Rail-trail toward Lincoln Gulch and then around the lake
  • Trail Conditions: Trails were dry, there were a few areas where trees had fallen across the trail but it’s such a wide trail that we could easily stay on trail and skirt around them, but keep that in mind if you’re cycling.

We do have a free trail map for the entire Medicine Bow Rail Trail. You can grab it here or check out our app and Trail Deck.

We’re seeing reports of muddy trails at Happy Jack, what are the other conditions in the area?

 

Trail Report: Pole Creek Trail (6/2/15)

This morning our local hiking group met at Happy Jack for a morning on the trails.

It’s always chaos when there are a dozen kids scampering down the trail BUT nothing makes me smile more than seeing local kids get outside, get some exercise and learn a little bit about nature.

#justtrails

We meandered our way slowly along the Pole Creek Trail and through the old campground stopping a few times to check out a beaver lodge, wildflowers, and insects. If you live in Laramie or Cheyenne you’re always welcome to come hike with us! Hikes are posted on our calendar.

pole creek trail

Here were the trail conditions.

  • Date: 6/2/15
  • Time: 9-11:00 pm
  • Temperature: 60-65°F (ish).
  • Weather: Sunny
  • Wind: Slight breeze
  • Trails Hiked: Pole Creek Trail
  • Trail Conditions: Trails were dry, there were a few muddy spots where people had gone around forming new trails instead of just hiking through the mud.

{pet peeve alert…just hike or ride your bike through the mud, it won’t hurt you and it’s much better than forging your own mud-free path through the vegetation}

#hikelaramie

We do have a free trail map for the Tie City & Happy Jack trail system. You can grab it here or check out our app and Trail Deck.

 

Trail Report: Tie City Snowshoe Trail + Campground Loop (6/1/15)

Yesterday (6/1/15) afternoon we caught a break between thunderstorms to head up to Tie City.Tie City

Our purpose wasn’t so much a hike, but an attempt to clean up trash.

But we did snap a few photos of the trails, and can report that they are mostly dry but wet and muddy in the lower, marshy areas. There was a fallen tree across the trail at one point, but it wasn’t a big deal.

#hikelaramie

 

 

Here were the trail conditions.

  • Date: 6/1/15
  • Time: 3-4:30 pm
  • Temperature: 50-60°F (ish).
  • Weather: Rainy & Overcast
  • Wind: Slight breeze
  • Trails Hiked: Snowshoe trail & Campground Loop
  • Trail Conditions: Trails were dry, there were a few muddy spots so I’d maybe give it a day or two before mountain biking or stick along the upper trails that tend to dry out faster.

 

We do have a free trail map for the Tie City & Happy Jack trail system. You can grab it here or check out our app and Trail Deck.

What are the other trail conditions in the area?

 

Trail Report: Turtle Rock 5/30/15

My kids woke up wild and energetic so I took them to Vedauwoo to try to wear them out.

How’s that for honest parenting?

We hiked, and climbed on the “big big rocks” and splashed in the creek.

turtle rock

The morning started cool and a little bit breezy but by 9 am we were down to shirtsleeves and one of my children may or may not have finished the hike pantsless.

We did notice that there were several fallen trees across the trail along the upper Turtle Rock trail, so be forewarned if you’re mountain biking. There were also several muddy places with runoff flowing across the trail but overall the weather was beautiful, the trails were dry and it was a pretty perfect morning at Vedauwoo.

#justtrails

Here were the trail conditions.

  • Date: 5/30/15
  • Time: 8-10:30 am
  • Temperature: 35-55°F (ish).
  • Weather: Sunny
  • Wind: Slight breeze
  • Trails Hiked: Turtle Rock
  • Trail Conditions: Trails were dry, there were a few muddy spots from runoff and a few fallen trees. Ironically the trails were not crowded, we were hoping to catch a glimpse of a moose but no such luck.

hike laramie (p.s. in case you’re wondering, my attempt to wear out our children was unsuccessful)

 

We do have a free trail map for the Turtle Rock trail. You can grab it here or check out our app and Trail Deck.

What are the other trail conditions in the area?

 

Trail Report: Lone Pine State Wildlife Area 5/29/15

Our morning started bright and early when we packed our raincoats and headed to Colorado!

Shocking, I know.

We spent some time at a Cub Scout Camp where our friends, the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers are having their spring training. Al is teaching a map & compass class and a GPS class tomorrow so we got the course set up and hiked around the camp a bit.

Then we decided to head to the Cherokee State Wildlife Area to check out the Lone Pine trail.

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The actual Lone Pine trail is over 10 miles, but we only made it down the trail about a mile to the Lone Pine creek. The creek was running really high and fast, which is not unusual for this time of year.  The kicker with this trail is that all of the bridges are washed out. If you’re headed that direction know that you won’t make it far unless you want to swim.

We weren’t about to do a river crossing with our two tired kids so we played in the meadow by the creek for a while and then headed back up the trail to the trailhead.

I’d like to say that the hike was a total bust but it wasn’t. This is probably one of the more kid-friendly trails I’ve been on in the area. You can easily push a jogging stroller down the trail and the meadow area by the creek is the perfect location for an afternoon picnic and spotting wildlife.

hikecolorado1The weather was pleasant and overcast with blue sky trying to peak through. It was a beautiful morning. Here were the trail conditions.

  • Date: 5/29/15
  • Time: 10-11:30 am
  • Temperature: 50°F (ish).
  • Weather: Overcast
  • Wind: No wind
  • Trails Hiked: A small portion of Lone Pine trail.
  • Trail Conditions: Trails were dry, there were a few muddy spots near the creek. Be prepared for fast moving water if you plan to cross the creek to hike or mountain bike the entire loop.

 

#justtrails

Also, this is a kid-friendly and jogging stroller friendly trail. Just be prepared to carry a stroller over the main gate, it wasn’t quite wide enough for our single Chariot.

And…if you forget to pack a lunch we give the sandwiches at the Forks gas station in Livermore (just a few miles from the trailhead) two thumbs up! But the voodoo chips that we purchased to go along with our sandwiches…palatable but not super awesome.

 

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We do have a free trail map for the Lone Pine trail. You can grab it here or check out our app and Trail Deck.

What are the other trail conditions in the area?

Trail Report: Tie City 5/27/15

I spy with my little eye the first wildflowers of the season!

Tie City

Well, they may not be the first but two weeks of travel have kept me away from Pole Mountain where we typically see the first flowers emerge straight out of snowbanks!

I sometimes forget how lucky we are to live in Laramie where we can drive 10 minutes from town and be right at the Tie City trailhead.

Yesterday our local hiking group met up at Tie City for a few muddy hours of chasing kids down a trail and {failed} attempts to keep them out of puddles and marshes. We saw the first wildflowers poking out of the soil, a huge nest and had a blast.

#hikelaramie

We hiked along the Campground loop, Alder trail and a few other little spurs, that’s what happens when kids take the lead!

The weather was cool and sunny and it was a beautiful morning on Pole Mountain. Here were the trail conditions.

  • Date: 5/27/15
  • Time: 9-11:00 am
  • Temperature: 45-50°F (ish).
  • Weather: Cool, sunny
  • Wind: Windy at the trailhead (as usual) but calm and peacefull on the trails.
  • Trails Hiked: Portions of Campground Loop, Alder trail and a few others
  • Trail Conditions: Trails ranged from dry to damp to muddy. There were a few patches of snow on and off the trails, but it won’t last long. Trails are hike-able right now, I’d give it a few days to dry out before trying to mountain bike there.

#justtrails

 

You can grab a free trail map for the Tie City and Pole Mountain trail network here or check out our app and Trail Deck.

What are the other trail conditions in the area?