Sunday, October 20, 2013

Elder-Fehn Trail

Total distance: 5.4 miles
Elevation – Min: 9442 ft, Max 9956 ft.
Total Ascent: 1930 ft.

We wanted to hike a longer hike today and intended to hike the Elder-Fehn Trail to the Vayhinger Trail and then follow the Ring the Peak Trail to Limber Pines Trail, but when we got there we discovered that the North Slope Recreation Area (NSRA) was closed from 1 Oct to 1 May.  We were still able to hike the Elder-Fehn Trail. 

This trail can be reached by traveling west on hwy 24 from Colorado Springs just past Woodland Park and then taking a left onto Edlowe road.  At the end of this road there is a parking lot with a restroom and this is the trail head.  On our drive to the trail head we saw a bunch of turkeys with an excellent backdrop of Pike's Peak.  I didn't bring my camera today so was limited to using my phone for pictures, but I got this excellent shot:

Initially we climbed about a tenth of a mile or so where Elder-Fehn Trail branches right while to the left is a locational sign and a gate which leads to Limber Pines Trail in the NSRA.  We took the right (the left was  closed) and were surprised to see that there was snow on the trail since we had hiked Dome Rock the week prior and not seen snow.

There are a lot of ups and downs to this trail with occasional views of Pike's Peak which was snow covered today.

 There were only a few aspens left with any color to them.  Much of the sky is cloud covered, but there is some blue sky showing.  When we checked the weather this morning Woodland Park was supposed to go cloud covered by 11:00 and have a 60% chance of snowfall by 4:00 although not much was expected.  When we started at 8:45 it was about 36 degrees.  I had 4 layers on top and 2 on the bottom.  Within 30 minutes I had shed two layers on top, ditched my gloves and snow hat.  I still wore a visor.  Most of the trail goes through a wooded area.  At one point the trees thin out and it becomes fairly rocky.  We stopped here for a snack.

Just past this point we noticed some turkey tracks, so apparently the turkeys do some mountain climbing of their own.

There are all sorts of signs telling you to stay on trail.  The trail is also marked on trees with reflective disks at eye level. 

Eventually we passed the sign for Vayhinger trail to the left.  It wasn't blocked off, but you could have only hiked down it for about a mile before it would have entered into the NSRA and been closed.  We aren't sure why the NSRA closes their trails from Oct to May.  We circled around the loop and headed back the way we came. This was a fun hike and we'll do it again; maybe in the summer when all the trails are open for hiking.

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