Where To See Fall Leaves Right Now

Well, Laramie.

There’s smoke in the air.

But there’s also autumn in the air.

Mornings are crisp, chilly and awesome.

Leaves are slowly changing from green to yellow.

And here’s where you can catch the first glimps of changing colors.

where to see fall leaves right now

Vedauwoo

Vedauwoo is magical right now. Actually it’s always magical. But a stroll along Turtle Rock Trail or Box Canyon or even the backside around Blair is where you can head to catch changing colors contrasting against Sherman Granite. Beautiful!

Tie City and Happy Jack

Honestly sometimes I forget to write or even think about Tie City and Happy Jack because they are just so convenient that I sometimes get tired of exploring there. For a change of pace I like to head to the Summit trailhead, just across the highway from the rest area. Fall leaves are dropping to the ground there right now.

Little Laramie Trailhead

The trail network from the Little Laramie trailhead are some of my favorites to hike during the fall. Maybe it’s the leafy trees and the lodgepole pines along the way? Or simply that my kids love the picnic area at the trailhead. Regardless, Little Laramie is where it’s at right now.

But I’ll admit… I’ve only been getting out once a week lately, every Friday morning with the Little Laramie Hikers, so if you have a recommendation for fall leaf viewing we’d love a comment letting everyone know where to go.

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You can also check out a few of our favorite autumn posts from the past.

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What’s Bloomin’ At Sugarloaf

The upper trails on the Snowy Range are gorgeous right now!!!

Last week Al lead a group up to Medicine Bow Peak so I stayed at the base of the mountain with the kids hiking around and checking out wildflowers.

Even though all of these weren’t shot with our fancy camera I thought it’d be fun to post a slide deck with what’s blooming at Sugarloaf and around Libby and Lewis Lakes right now…just in case you can’t get up there right now.

Enjoy!

What You Need To Know About the Snow Survey Cabin

Last weekend we headed to the Snowies to celebrate our oldest kiddo’s 5th birthday.

We’re all about birthday adventures at our house and our kids are all about trying to stay in every single Forest Service cabin that exists.

The Snow Survey Cabin

So naturally we had to check out the Snow Survey Cabin on the back side of Medicine Bow Peak.

We’d heard great things about this cabin, especially in the winter since it has propane heat and lights.

But since we didn’t get up there last winter July seemed like a decent enough time to go, even though we booked our stay in recreation.gov several months ago to make sure we got it for the big birthday weekend.

Here’s a little synopsis of our stay and details about the fascinating history of the cabin.

 

A few things you need to know if you head there.

  • The outhouse is pristine, the most non-stinky outhouse ever!
  • The cabin is super clean and organized, a completely different experience than the Little Brooklyn Lake Guard Station which seemed cluttered and dirty after staying at the Snow Survey Cabin.  I don’t think any cabin in the woods is entirely mouse-free but there was no evidence of mice inside the Snow Survey Cabin.
  • The cabin is stocked with dishes, pans, and basic necessities. But don’t forget an axe to split firewood if you want to use the outdoor firepit, matches, toilet paper, and sheets for the beds.
  • The cabin has lights and heat, it’s almost too luxurious!
  • There isn’t any drinking water or a pump at the cabin, You could boil water from the creek or just bring your own water jug from home.
  • Make sure you reserve this place months in advance, it fills up quickly year round. When we called to get the code for the door we were also super impressed with how kind and friendly the Brush Creek/Hayden Ranger District office was so thank you for that.

More details and booking information can be found right here.

(p.s. We don’t get paid to review Forest Service cabins or anything really so do know that all of these thoughts are our own)

Have you stayed at the Snow Survey Cabin? What did you think?

Where to go right now…

If you’re looking for a local adventure here’s what’s going on right now on some of your favorite trails.

If you’re looking for snow to slide down head to Brooklyn Lake and start hiking the Sheep Lake Trail. About 3/4 of a mile in you’ll find hours of epic fun right here.

(Don’t forget the hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen like I did. Bad Mom!)

If you’re looking for wildflowers head to the Happy Jack trailhead. Meadows of luscious yellow wildflowers will make it impossible to be in a bad mood while hiking there.

(Don’t forget the bug spray)

If you’re looking for a good picnic spot head to Vedauwoo and stroll down the Box Canyon trail. This is our favorite for those times when we just need to get away and explore but don’t have time to drive into the Snowies or Colorado.

If you’re looking for shade and easy kid-friendly trails head to Chimney Park. Kids can wander on these old roads-turned-trails for hours and have fun exploring.

Chimney Park

If you’re looking for frogs and tadpoles head to the Beaver Ponds off the lower Turtle Rock trailhead. Bring a net but please be gentle and catch and release.

If you’re looking for blooming prickly pear cactus Curt Gowdy State Park is where to be.

prickly pear cactus

And if you want to give a hoot and pick up trash left by jerks head to Pole Mountain, follow any old dirt road to any campsite and you’re guaranteed to find beer bottles, cigarette butts, and the remains of burned pallets. Not cool, but we like to do what we can to discover and clean up these sites when we find them and then spread word about jerks wrecking our beautiful places.

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If you’re looking for trail guides, check out our Snowy Range & Pole Mountain Trail Deck, of course!

And if you find yourself with a growling stomach at the end of any adventure in the Snowy Range and you’re looking for lunch stop by the Mountain View Hotel. Just do it. Trust me on this one, hands down the best food and hospitality in Centennial.

What are YOU seeing in the local area?

What You Need To Know About Medicine Bow Peak

So, maybe you’ve lived in Laramie your entire life and climbed to the top of Medicine Bow Peak dozens of times.

Or, perhaps you’re new to town and looking to learn more about this iconic peak.

Regardless we thought we’d talk about one of our favorite places (ever!) on the blog today, ‘The Peak.’

The best place to start if you’re looking to summit this peak is on our trail page, where you can learn more about the trek to the top and print off a FREE downloadable trail guide. We also have an entire map card dedicated to this peak our Trail Deck and an app and it’s mentioned in our e-book as well. So tons of resources right at your fingertips.

Please don’t be like the group we found last summer, lost and trying to navigate their way to the top with a bad map, that’s not fun for anyone!

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Now, I’m assuming you’re here because you already have your reasons for wanting to climb the peak but just in case you need some convincing here are 5 reasons why you should add this to your summer bucket list.

When you’re charging up or down the peak if you know exactly where to look chances are you can view some wreckage from United Airlines Flight 409, which crashed smack dab into the mountain during a storm in 1955. It’s a sad, but true tale.

But there have also been amazing things to happen on the peak, like an old fire lookout and the scandal that took place to construct it, or the first woman to ever “man” the lookout tower. You can read both of those stories here.

And last, but certainly not least. If you’re a parent the thought of climbing the peak with your children (especially babies and toddlers) might seem daunting. But I’m here to hook you up with a High 5 and tell you to go for it. I’ve climbed this mountain pregnant, with a baby, toddler, preschooler and I’m not that awesome. You can climb this mountain with kids of all ages. These tips will help.

Have questions about how to climb the peak? We’re always here to help. Hook us up with a note or send us a quick comment and we’ll get back to you as soon as we can.

Date Night Navigation Class

 

What are you doing on Saturday night?

Come hang out with us!

Join us for a Date Night Navigation class.

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Here’s the scoop…

Don’t need the scoop? You can skip reading the blog post and sign up here.

Date Night Navigation

  • Saturday June 18, 2016
  • 5:30- 8 pm
  • Curt Gowdy State Park
  • Cost: $40.00/couple

Looking for a fun date-night activity?

Why not join Al & Rebecca for a date night navigation class? Don’t let the name fool you, you don’t need to be madly in love for this class so grab your neighbor, co-worker, friend or anyone who you’d like to spend a few hours learning with learning to navigate!

This will be a condensed version of our Introduction to Map & Compass Class. We’ll start with an introduction to maps including how to read topography and match it to what you see on the ground.

We will also discuss how to use a compass. Students will learn the different parts of a compass and how to deal with declination.

The class culminates with learning how to use all of your tools, map, compass, and brain, to figure out where you are.

Details:

Bring your own friend, partner, spouse, lover or wannabe lover and a compass for you to share (we have a few that can be borrowed).

This class will be taught entirely outdoors and at dusk, so please check the weather and dress accordingly. Bring water and snacks, and be prepared to walk outside, up and down hills, and over uneven terrain.

Meet us at the Curt Gowdy State Park Visitor’s Center, no parking pass is required as the class will start from there promptly at 5:30 pm.

The class size is limited to 10 couples, ages 14 and older. The class is $40.00/couple and will be taught by Al and Rebecca. You can sign up and register right here. Registration closes Friday night at 5 pm.

Questions? Contact Rebecca, rebecca@justtrails.com

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.

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

Toddlers & Seniors Hit the Trail Together

A few months ago the Little Laramie Hikers, a local kid-friendly hiking group that I started a few years ago ran into another local hiking group at Curt Gowdy State Park.

We were at the Visitor’s Center gawking at the mountain lion and wrangling kids in the parking lot when the Seniors on the Go pulled up.

The were fit, energetic and headed out on a much faster and more rigorous hike than us.

I was curious about the group so I started stalking them on facebook. I learned that both of our groups had similar goals and objectives. And we both hit the trails every Friday morning.

-the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow-

When I timidly asked if they’d like to team up for a multigenerational hike they agreed. I promised that they could hike at their own pace but wanted to see what it would be like for our children when they showed up at a trailhead just to be greeted by friendly new faces from fellow hikers decades older than them.

Over the past year I’ve been reading and re-reading the book, How to Raise a Wild Child by Dr. Scott D. Sampson. In the book, Sampson describes the concept of being a “nature mentor”– or a fellow explorer to children.  I’ve sought out ways to try to be a better nature mentor through WY Outside, an organization that I volunteer with and teaching kids from Beitel Elementary School about maps. But the truth is, I want my children to grow up having nature mentors, or someone besides me or Al who can explore alongside them and teach them new things.

A joint hike with the LLH & Seniors on the Go seemed like the perfect opportunity to start building friendships between the children in our group and adults who value time spent in nature just as much as we do. Maybe some nature mentorships will form?

But I had my doubts.

Would anyone from the LLH show up if they knew we’d be hiking with senior citizens?

Would anyone from Seniors on the Go show up knowing that they’d be chased down a trail by preschoolers with sticks and parents with whining babies?

Would Seniors on the Go want to see wildlife? The only wild animals we ever see are 2-year-olds…

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But yesterday morning, the day of our joint hike, I watched the parking lot at the trailhead fill up and conversations begin as hikers unloaded their gear, hoisted babies onto their backs and headed down the trail. I knew that I was witnessing something amazing.

Laramie hikers were coming together.

We were connecting children with seniors.

We were sharing a passion for hiking and the outdoors.

We stopped together for a photo shortly after leaving the trailhead. Then we split into groups of those who hiked at an adult pace, and those who hiked at the pace of a toddler.

WELCOME

I’ll cherish this photo forever because to me this is what community is all about.

Thanks Little Laramie Hikers, for being awesome. I treasure our hikes together. Thanks Seniors on the Go for letting us join you for a hike, and showing our children that outdoor adventure doesn’t have age restrictions.

Here’s to many more hikes together!

 

How do I climb a 14er? (Reader Question)

Lately, we’ve been asked a lot of questions about things like gear, equipment and hiking in general. It’s awesome, we love being able to share our thoughts. Instead of keeping the conversation confined to an email or social media conversation, we’re going to start publishing more Q&A’s right here too.

At the end of August I headed to Colorado to climb Mt. Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln and Bross with a few friends. They were my first 14ers. I write a trip report over on our sister site, Hike Like A Woman and it’s been crazy popular. But it also generated a lot of questions about bagging peaks.

Now, you might have noticed that we don’t have any maps or trail guides published for any 14ers yet. The key word there is yet, because as we expand into Colorado more we’re going to be mapping and bagging more big mountains. Also, I think that the “rules” for climbing 14ers also apply when you’re climbing our 11 & 12,000 foot peaks. So, I thought it would be fitting to go ahead and answer a question about 14ers right here today.

HOW DO I CLIMB A 14ER

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Today’s question comes from Rachel. 

“Hi Rebecca, I just read your blog post about climbing four 14ers in Colorado. I’m curious, was this your first 14er? I’ve never climbed one before but I’d like to. What advice do you have for someone like me?”

Hi Rachel,

That’s awesome, do it. 

Yes, I did climb my first 14er last summer. I’d climbed plenty of 12 & 13,000-foot peaks but decided it was time to tackle mountains the 14,000-foot variety. Now I’m afraid that I’m a little bit hooked…

Here’s what I did.

  • Research and find the perfect first peak. For me, it was the Democrat, Cameron, Lincoln, Bross (the DeCaLiBron) because I wanted to get all 4 on my first time up. I recommend the website 14ers.com. It is super useful for trip planning.
  • Get in shape by doing a few good climbs before you attempt your summit, but know that even if you’re in amazing shape your lungs will burn at 14,000 + feet.
  • If you’re coming from sea level there are a few different schools of thought in terms of acclimatization, check out this post. Most important is to stay hydrated, well-fueled and to listen to your body and head down if you feel sick no matter how badly you want to summit.
  • Get an early start, if you’re hiking a popular trail near the front range be hiking no later than 5:30 or 6 am to avoid not just crowds (it’s like Disneyland up on some of the more popular peaks) but also dangerous afternoon lightning and thunderstorms.
  • Recruit a few good friends to join you, just for the fun of it.
  • Don’t forget to wear good boots that are well broken in, plenty of people climb in just running shoes but if you’re like me you’ll want the protection and ankle support that only a pair of boots can provide when you’re descending a scree slope. Also think about finding a good pair of trekking poles.
  • Choose your season, Aug, Sept. good months for climbing 14ers but some rad people ski up them in the winter too.

Thank you for the question Rachel, best of luck to you!

 

Have you ever climbed a 14er? What advice would you give?

Where to See Fall Colors Right Now

We still might be wearing shorts and sandals around town but there’s no mistaking that Autumn is in the air.

Are you wondering where to go to see the bright orange, yellow and red leaves of autumn?

Here are our topic picks for fall colors right now.

  • Corner Mountain & Little Laramie. You know that small section of aspen trees as your driving past Centennial toward the Corner Mountain & Little Laramie trailheads? It’s probably our favorite view in the Snowies right now. You can stop and hike from either trailhead to catch a glimpse of changing leaves.
  • Medicine Bow Rail Trail. Start at the Woods Creek Trailhead just past the Chimney Park trailhead. Don’t cross highway 230 and hike north toward the Lincoln Gulch trailhead. This trailhead also has an amazing picnic area, one of our favorites so this is a great place for a fall picnic and hike.
  • Where to see fall colors right nowGreen Rock. I think that in the fall we tend to overlook the trails from the Green Rock trailhead since the trails from there do tend to meander through a more coniferous forest. But maybe that’s why I like this trail in the fall. It’s so green that what leafy trees do exist really seem to light up the forest.
  • Vedauwoo. Yep, Vedauwoo, we were up that direction on Monday and the place is ablaze with beauty.  We also caught a glimpse of a moose. If you can’t make it to Vedauwoo just check out this photo from our friend Brian with Brian Guice Media.
  • Headquarters Trail. Start from the Summit Trailhead just past the rest area. We were just up that way this morning. The bright yellow aspen trees are glorious, you won’t be disappointed.

Bonus Trail: If you’re looking for another adventure head over the border to Red Feather Lakes and start from the Mount Margaret or Lady Moon trailheads. We were there yesterday and it was beautiful there too.

Where are you seeing beautiful fall colors right now?