I took Lulu the pup out for a hike on my day off yesterday. How about this blazing hot mountain weather!? We hiked the Mesa Cortina trail in Silverthorne - this is a great, relatively low key hike that winds through open meadows with fantastic views toward Ptarmigan Mountain, dense old growth tree stands, and more sparsely treed beetle kill forests.
This is an out and back hike that can easily be made into a shorter loop using the Excelsior Trail. You can turn at any point on the trail - there is no absolute end to it, and if your kids are in backpacks...perhaps you can make a full day hike out of a trip all the way to the Willow Falls (8.4 miles round trip). My girls took some great naps in hiking backpacks when they were babies :)
The end of the red line on the map below is the intersection of the Mesa Cortina trail with the Gore Range trail. This spot is a great, shady spot with easy, flat access to the creek for wading and grabbing some trail snacks.
Kid Difficulty: Moderate - there is one section with a moderate up-hill and 2 switchbacks, otherwise it is a very gentle up and down hike. There were a few downed trees on the trail in the area of the forest with significant beetle-kill...the kids will love climbing over or under them!
Distance: Around 3 miles round trip to the Gore Range trail intersection.
The trailhead for Mesa Cortina is in Silverthorne off of Royal Red Bird drive. Take the road up behind Lowes, stay right at the intersection to merge on Lord Gore Road (dirt), and take a right at the stop sign at the end of Lord Gore. The trailhead is down the road on the left.
As you can see from the map, there are lots of trails and little off-shoots in this area for you to explore! If you want the most shade, go earlier in the morning or in the mid/late afternoon when the sun angles are lower. The beetle kill pines have thinned the forest so that there is more sun when it is directly overhead.
Enjoy the warm summer weather, don't forget your sunscreen and LOTS of water and snacks!
Stay Wild and Free,