Family Visits in Colorado: Hiking, Leaf-Peeping, and Elk

Leaving the Black Hills at the end of the first week of September we made a beeline directly to Tom’s niece Nancy and husband Tim’s new house in Colorado. Located in the small town of Evergreen, their new home was situated on an acre of grassy ponderosa forest in the foothills surrounded by the tall mountain peaks of the Rockies. We spent close to 10 days visiting with them, working a little bit on their new house, taking a few hikes, and mostly enjoying our time cooking meals, baking, and sitting on the patio catching up.

The town of Evergreen is amazing, home to rolling hills, tall trees, and stunning sunsets – and perfect for anyone who enjoy outdoor activities. There are multiple open spaces within the town limits, at least one of which – Elk Meadow Park – has over 15 miles of trails. The first morning after our arrival Nancy invited me to join her and a friend there; they were training for a half-marathon and planned to run the steepest of the loop trails. I readily agreed to go but we do not run unless there's a rabbit (Abby) or its a matter of life and death (me). So Abbs and I opted instead to hike a shorter, 6-ish mile loop that offered some wonderful views and a leisurely 1,000+ feet elevation gain that would have us finish at nearly the same time as Nancy and her friend.

Though I didn’t see any elk at Elk Meadow that morning, there were plenty around the town – 3 herds to be exact. Cows grazed in front lawns and bugling bulls serenaded us as we wound our way through the streets of Evergreen. According to Nancy I encountered (way) fewer than usual elk but I was super-stoked to see what I did.

Nancy and I did a couple more trails together during our visit, but the other big thing we did was spending the day with the whole family driving through the Pike and Arapaho National Forests and up over Guanella Pass. We saw aspen galore, mighty fir trees, and blue streams, as well as the sweeping vistas in the high country above the treeline. Though we didn’t do any actual hikes that day, we stopped plenty of places to wander and spectate, and of course take pictures. It was relaxing and a really enjoyable day spent exploring the area with Nancy, Tim, and the kids.