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 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.


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


Be Nice to Box Canyon

Have you strolled through Box Canyon lately?

It’s one of my favorite places to go when I just have a few hours and need to get outside.

Our kids love climbing the rocks.

We love having picnic dinners in the canyon.

Or packing library books in to read as we’re perched on the top of a rock formation.

We go there at least once a week.

I love Vedauwoo and a walk through Box Canyon is the perfect place for families.

But lately I’ve been sad, and angry when I walk through the canyon.

Because of things like this.

Excuse me while I step on my soap box!

Why on earth do people feel the need to carve their initials into aspen trees.


Is it because aspens along the path are already scarred with graffiti? Why not add my initials too?

Why not add my initials too?

Monkey see, monkey do?

Tree carvings suck.




It is NOT okay to carve into trees.

It’s called vandalism.

It’s called graffiti.

It’s not art.

It’s punishable by a fine, $325 for one family who thought it was cute to Instagram their family tradition of tree carvings on federal lands.

Wouldn’t it be great if they had a family tradition to clean up trails instead and didn’t turn aspen tree bark into their own twitter feed?

$325 is too light of a fine if you want my opinion.

Here’s what the US National Forest has to say about it, “Respect living trees. By carving or chopping into the trunks of trees, people unknowingly damage the tree by slitting veins right below the bark. These veins transport nutrients and water throughout the tree. If the damage becomes severe, it will deprive the tree of nutrients and food, and the tree slowly starves to death.”

We’re already dealing with a pine beetle epidemic. Why would we want to destroy more trees by being jerks?

There’s one problem with this.

The USFS doesn’t have time to patrol and hand out fines to people being jerks in our forests. They are understaffed and underfunded and doing the best they can with what they have and I think they are doing a great job.

Let’s help them by taking care of our local forests.

Let’s preserve them so our children’s children can enjoy them without seeing trees marred by jerks.

Let’s report anyone we see carving trees to the USFS and local authorities.

Let’s teach our children to be respectful of our natural world so they learn to respect it.

Let’s remind visitors to our local forests that this is our home and demand that they care for it too.

Because I don’t know about you, but I seek solace in the wilderness.

And seeing trees destroyed makes me angry, not peaceful.

Let’s be good stewards of the land.

{end of rant}

{thanks for tuning in}

{feel free to share this post and help get the good word out}


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.

IMG_2646 IMG_2640

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?

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…

-the moment my legs begin to move, my thoughts begin to flow- (1)

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.


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!


Welcome to Laradise!

It’s that time of the year, when Laramie suddenly gets rush-hour traffic and we have to add 5 minutes to our commute across town.

The University of Wyoming campus is on fire with spunky and energetic students ready to take on the world, or at least stay awake through their Chemistry class.

The new climbing wall at Half Acre looks rad, or at least it did as I peeked in the windows to get a good glimpse of it during my run this morning.

Welcome to Laradise.


With the influx of students onto campus we’ve also seen a huge increase in website traffic and sales of our Trail Deck’s-–for that we say “thank you.”

Since there are so many new people on the site we’d like to show you around our virtual world headquarters. Here’s what you need to know about Just Trails.

We’re a local-Laramie based small business aimed at helping you get outdoors and explore. 

If you click on the map on our homepage you’ll be able to find hundreds of miles of trails within the area, each trail page has a trail description, driving directions, trail information, free downloadable pdf map, a video, and a photo set. We can vouch for the accuracy of our information because we’ve hiked each trail ourselves, we’re not crowd-sourced like a lot of other popular hiking websites.

Here are our most downloaded trail maps (so what we’d guess to be the most popular trails in the local area.)

  1. Medicine Bow Peak
  2. Tie City & Jappy Jack
  3. Curt Gowdy State Park
  4. Vedauwoo & Blair
  5. Gap Lakes
  6. Sheep Mountain
  7. North Fork Trail
  8. Green Rock
  9. Miners Cabin & Tipple Trail
  10. Trail Creek

We also sell a few products on our website, so be sure to check them out.

  • We also offer a mobile app for your phone, an e-Book, quick reference cards for your GPS and we teach classes on things like how to read a map and compass and how to use a GPS through our Navigation School.  This was the first summer that our Nav School was up and running and we had a blast teaching these courses. We’ve had to close for the winter, but will still glady teach private classes or set up a time for a group class, just contact Rebecca to set things up (rebecca@justtrails.com).We also try to keep up with outdoor community events on our calendar.
  • What’s next? We’re hoping to add guided trips to our menu of services next summer and hopefully mountaintop weddings…because wouldn’t it be pretty amazing to get married on top of someplace like Medicine Bow Peak?

Here’s a rare behind-the-scenes look at Just Trails.

I think that when it comes to local business it’s sometimes good to get a behind-the-scenes look at the people who run it. So you know we’re not weirdos tucked away in a dark room making up information about local trail stuff.

Just Trails Crew

Just Trails is owned, operated and managed by us, Al and Rebecca Walsh…and our two young boys who can out hike most, but not all 65-year-olds. We’re both Army Veterans and the idea for Just Trails came to us somewhere between Fort Riley, Kansas and Fort Irwin California. Throughout our careers we had a hard time finding good, accurate and consistent trail information wherever the Army sent us. Instead of spending our precious weekends on the trails, we spent them online trying to find trails to hike. So when it came time for us to leave active duty we knew that we needed and wanted to solve the nationwide problem of bad trail maps and trail information. We’re small but growing quickly so we take it one trail at a time…

Meet Al

Al is the brains behind Just Trails, in fact starting Just Trails can be blamed mostly on him. He spends his days at the College of Law, his evenings on Just Trails and his weekends flip-flopping between the mountains and the library. Al is also the main instructor for our Navigation School and hopes to get an online version of our courses up and running by the end of 2016.

Meet Rebecca

Since law school is kind of a full-time gig, Rebecca takes the reigns when Al is busy learning about things like torts. Rebecca heads up a popular local kid-friendly hiking group, the Little Laramie Hikers. She also founded the wildly popular website, Hike Like A Woman, with information for women in the outdoors and is getting ready to launch Moms Who Hike, the how-to hub to help parents get on the trails with their kids. Her latest project though is re-launch the Great Adventures Podcast with it’s first episode coming out later this month. Rebecca occasionally writes for Sierra Trading Post, Seattle Backpackers Magazine, volunteers with WY Outside and coaches biathlon (nordic skiing & rifle marksmanship.)

What to expect around here…

Laramie has a vibrant outdoor community. If you’re a Nordic Skier check out the Medicine Bow Nordic Association or this post. If you’re a cyclist check out Laramie BikeNet and sign up for this race. And of course, please stop by the Forest Service Office for your pass if you’re looking to explore in the forest, we appreciate all that they do for our favorite outdoor places. If you’re looking for a hiking group, come and join us. Laramie is a great place to live, work and use as a base camp for exploring in the local area, it’s what we’re passionate about and we’re here to help.

If you’re looking for specific trail information or have questions that aren’t answered on our site please feel free to contact us or come up on any of our social media channels.

Welcome back UW students, welcome to Laradise! 

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.


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: Turtle Rock 5.5.15

I think I start to go through Vedauwoo withdrawals if I don’t get up there at least once a month.

Vedauwoo is a magical place. I love it there.

This morning I looked at the fog and rain on top of the summit and decided to bundle the kids up anyway and head to Vedauwoo.

turtle rock1

We hiked along the eastern section of the Turtle Rock trail until they got tired, then I schlepped them out, tossed one on my back and the other in our Chariot and walked up the road and along the paved pathway through Box Canyon (just past the Gazebo). In the canyon we did a little bit of scrambling around on the wet granite rocks. turtle rock 3

The weather was cool, wet and misty and we had so much fun hiking through the fog.

It was indeed a beautiful morning at Vedauwoo.

Here are the current trail conditions.

  • Date: 5/5/15
  • Time: 9-11:15 am
  • Temperature: 35-40°F (ish).
  • Weather: Cool, rainy, foggy, misty
  • Wind: None
  • Trails Hiked: Portions of Turtle Rock & Box Canyon.
  • Trail Conditions: Trails were damp but surprisingly not too muddy. There were a few patches of snow off the trail, but it won’t last long. Turtle Rock is perfectly hike-able right now, I’d give it a few days to dry out before trying to mountain bike there.

turtle rock 2

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

What are the other trail conditions in the area?

Trail Report: Turtle Rock 3-8-15

It’s been slow around here lately. I spent last week in Vermont with my biathlon team coaching at the National Guard biathlon championships. While I’ve been hitting the trails on cross-country ski–they haven’t been our local trails.

But this morning I broke away with a few friends to go check out the trail conditions at Vedauwoo.

turtle rock 2

It was a beautiful bluebird day, the kind of spring day where we left our snowshoes in the car but wished we would have had them in certain places, microspikes in other places, our trekking poles for extra grip on the icy trail. We did some postholing in some areas and even enjoyed nice wet trails in others.

All in all it was a gorgeous day to hit the trails and enjoy the beautiful sunshine and spring.

turtle rock 1

Here are the trail conditions on the Turtle Rock trail at Vedauwoo.

  • Date: 3/8/15
  • Time: 10 am-12:00 pm MST
  • Temperature: 40-45°F (ish).
  • Weather: Warm, bright and sunny.
  • Wind: Slight breeze in the parking lot but not noticeable on the trails.
  • Trails Hiked: Turtle Rock Trail
  • Snowpack: There are areas of waist deep crusty snow and other areas of dry ground.
  • Grooming: Turtle Rock trail isn’t groomed but it was packed by boots, snowshoes and even a brave soul who skied it (hopefully on rock skis).
  • Wax: I’d recommend snowshoeing over skiing but if you ski I’d forgo trying to kick wax for the crazy spring conditions with a pair of waxless skis.

You can grab a trail map for the Vedauwoo trail network here.

What are the other trail conditions in the area?


12 Trails of Christmas: Vedauwoo


When people think of Vedauwoo they think of rock climbing, or mountain biking or hiking or just lazy Sunday afternoons of scrambling on the gigantic granite boulders that rise out of the vast prairie.

In the winter we think of something else…snowshoeing!


If you think Vedauwoo is magical in the summer you need to go there in the winter when a blanket of white coats the landscape.

Usually we just park in the parking lot outside of the fee booth and either head down the road or meander our way through the campground not really following a trail but going wherever our snowshoes take us.

Vedauwoo doesn’t always collect a lot of snow and sometimes there are bare patches combined with huge snowdrifts so it’s also a good place for winter hiking if snowshoeing isn’t your thing.

Here’s the summer video but we love Vedauwoo year-round.

Have you ever snowshoed Vedauwoo?




On Sunday morning Al and I were so confused.

Our phones kept buzzing.

Each buzz meant that someone had ordered a Trail Deck.

Each order made us smile and jump up and down with glee (seriously).

We couldn’t figure out what was going on, why the sudden interest in our Trail Deck?

And then we remembered Roger, a fellow outdoor lover, writer, and explorer who had said he was writing up a little something about Just Trails for the Wyoming Tribune Eagle.

Suddenly all the Trail Deck orders, new subscribers to our blog and web traffic made sense.


And we are so thankful.

Here’s our favorite quote from his article, “This Snowy Range & Pole Mountain Trail Deck with its accompanying web material opens up a lot of country for hikers, some of it never before mapped. They will also be invaluable to mountain bikers, cross country skiers, fisherman and hunters. It is up-to-date, more comprehensive and easier to tote than previous guides, such as Mark Smith’s classic Hiking Wyoming’s Medicine Bow National Forest.”

We’re still smiling!!!

Yesterday the social media world caught up when the newspaper published Roger’s story on their website.

So thank you Roger!

If you’re new to the blog we welcome you just the same way we’d welcome you into our home, only we can’t offer you a hot cup of tea or cold bottle of beer.

The stars are aligning and we’re excited to see what’s next on this wacky hiking journey.

p.s. If you didn’t get a chance to check out Roger’s full article you can read it here and be sure to check out his website.