Eastern trails

On this page, you’ll find brief descriptions and rough maps of the major footpaths to the east of the house.  Please note that all of the maps are just approximations, as are the directions.  No cartographers were involved—just me and my GPS “track” feature.  When I write about traveling the paths, I almost always write as if you were starting from the house.  Click on any photo or map to see a larger version.

  • 10 Points

Really, 10 Points isn’t a footpath, but it’s an important hub for the trails to the east. Here, 10 footpaths and ATV trails come together. I’ve denoted 10 Points with a green star on any map where it appears.

  • ZT Trail 

ZTTrail

The ZT Trail is named after Zell and Tina.  The first occurrence of this combination came when Zell and I were dating, back in New York.  Working on a rock bridge over Canopus Creek on the Appalachian Trail through Fahnstock State Park outside of Cold Spring, NY, Zell had taken down a tree there.  He used his chainsaw to carve our initials in the wood stump near the bridge.  (We took the photo 10 years later when we were back visiting the area.  Despite the moss trying to take over, you can still see the initials, although it’s a bit ghostly looking.  Click on the photo for a larger version and look for a Z over a T peeking through the moss.) ZTRockThe map above points out the ZT Trail with the red square bracket in the bottom left corner.  (Click on the photo for a larger version.)  This trail,  currently with no name markers, runs from the east side of the house to 10 Points (a spot where 10 different footpaths and ATV trails converge).  The photo on the left below shows the beginning of the trail just past the gravel “ramp” trail that starts to the east of the patio.  You follow a cleared pathway to the left, through the trees and across a small wash just below the boathouse.  After you get out of the wash, you’ll see a trail to the right or one heading straight.  These 2 converge at nest box 13, so go whichever way you’d like.  If you take the straight path, you’ll turn right where the trail comes to a T.  Near 10 Points, the Dougie Trail heads off to the right (shown as a green arrow on the map).  The trail comes out at 10 Points, marked by a few white rocks at its terminus (below right).

ZT_west ZT_east
  • Wanbli Trail

WanbliWhile we looking for the property marker on this ridge to the east of the house before we bought the property, an eponymous Bald Eagle soared overhead. “Wanbli” means “bald eagle” in Lakota.  (At the time, I was working a lot on the Pine Ridge Reservation, home of the Oglala Lakota tribe.)   Although Golden Eagles can be seen year-round (and often nest in the rock cliffs over the Arkansas River), Bald Eagles only winter in our area.  We named both the ridge and this trail up to the ridge “Wanbli.”

This short trail, highlighted by the red square bracket toward the bottom of the map, is a set of switchbacks starting at 10 Points (photo below, left) that provides quick access to Wanbli Ridge.  This was the first official trail that Zell built, because one of my favorite things to do is to climb up the ridge and look at the Arkansas River.  If you walk east along the ridge (which we refer to as part of the Prow Trail, you get to a lovely viewpoint of the Arkansas River (although most of this part of the ridge belongs to Lot 12).  (If you click on the photo below on the right, you can see the upper terminus of the Wanbli Trail and Zell headed along the Prow Trail.)  This river view is the header photo of this blog.  Facing the river here, you’ll see the Rock Ledge Trail terminus to your right (another trail built on Lot 12’s property with the owners’ permission, which provides them access from Trail Ridge Road without having to go on our property) and the Prow Trail heads down to the left and ends at 10 Points.  You can also catch a glimpse of the river just a bit east of where the Wanbli switchbacks reach the ridge (noted on the map with a red star)—look for a spreading juniper on the right.  This view isn’t as expansive as the one at the Prow, but it’s still nice.  Go west from where the the switchbacks end (photo below, right along the ridge (which is the beginning of The Diagonal) to reach the beginning of The Steep.

Wanbli_l Wanbli_u
  • The Prow

Prow The viewpoint at the eastern end of Wanbli Ridge (as shown in the header photo of this blog) reminded Zell of the prow of a ship—hence the name.  This trail (denoted by the red square bracket) lies predominantly on Lot 12’s land, built with the permission of Lot 12’s owners.  Zell originally built it as a mountain bike trail, so it’s a bit wider than the other footpaths.  It has no switchbacks (not easy to handle on a mountain bike), so short stretches of it are just a bit steep.  It starts at 10 Points, on the left past the bench (photo below, left).  At the terminus on Wanbli Ridge, you can connect with the Rock Ledge Trail (also built on Lot 12’s property, with permission).  If you’re traveling up the trail, you’ll see a trail head off to the left (the Lower Prow Trail) perhaps one third of the way up (photo below, right)—that trail goes around the ridge below the Prow Trail and connects with the Rock Ledge Trail.  In snowy weather, it’s best to go up the Prow Trail, since losing your footing can be a bit too easy when gravity assists on the way down.  Once you get to the “prow” lookout, the trail continues west along Wanbli Ridge, where you’ll pass the terminus of the Wanbli Trail; just past that point, you’re on The Diagonal.

Prow_w Prow_mid
  • The Diagonal

DiagnoalThe Diagonal goes along the north face of Wanbli Ridge, starting at 10 Points (below, left) and reaching the ridge at its western end (below, right).  It continues east along the ridge until you see the sign for the terminus of the Wanbli Trail.  The name refers to the fact that it is, in fact, a steady diagonal across the ridge face.  You can see portions of this trail from the living room windows.

Diagonal_lower Diagonal_upper
  • The Steep

Steep

When we first bought the property, we’d clamber up Wanbli Ridge and follow the slope of the ridge to the west down to the wash between Wanbli Ridge and the Bench Ridge.  Following the barbed wire fence separating our property from the Sigfords in the valley, this route’s footing was a bit tricky and the slope, quite steep.  Hence, when Zell put in the switchbacks, the logical name for this trail was “The Steep.”

The Steep starts at the west end of Wanbli Ridge where The Diagonal heads down to 10 Points (denoted by the red square bracket near the bottom of the map above).  Down a series of switchbacks, the trail passes the southern (upper) terminus of the Smarty Jones Trail and meets up with the Hudson Trail, where they both continue down to the wash.

TheSteep_u TheSteep_w
  • Hudson Trail

HudsonRunning along the north face of Wanbli Ridge, the Hudson Trail lies below the Diagonal and crosses the face of the ridge with very little rise.  It starts at 10 Points and ends at the wash to the west at the end of Wanbli Ridge.  (Look for the red square bracket in the lower right corner.)  The photos below show the eastern trail head, at 10 Points (left), the point where the Hudson Trail joins The Steep (middle), and the western terminus in the wash (which it shares with The Steep).  Click on any photo to see a larger version.

Hudson_e Hudson_mid Hudson_w

This trail is named for a beloved dog of ours—a Lab/Chow mix who was probably the best, lowest-maintenance, most easy-going dog we’ll ever have.  We adopted her just a few months after we had moved to the Denver area from the New York City area.  We both loved the Hudson River, so…

H_Swimming5Hudson—1991 – 2004.

  • Smarty Jones Trail

SmartyJones When Zell was constructing this trail in 2004, a horse named Smarty Jones was a Triple-Crown contender.  Unfortunately, he (the horse, not Zell) won only 2 of the 3 legs of the Triple Crown. (He came in 2nd in the Belmont Stakes.  So close…)  I thought that that wonderful name deserved some more airtime, so…

This short trail (denoted by the red square bracket in the lower part of the map) runs between The Steep (which continues to switchback up the ridge as shown by the green arrow by the red square bracket), about halfway to the top, and the Hudson Trail.  The photo below on the left shows where the upper end of Smarty Jones heads off from The Steep; on the right, where it heads up Wanbli Ridge from the Hudson Trail.

SmartyJones_u SmartyJones_l
  • Campsite Trail

Campsite This short connector trail runs from the ZT Trail to 10 Points.  It currently doesn’t have signs and is a bit hard to follow until you know it.  From the ZT Trail, you head up the rise on the right just before you get to the old ranch road and the junction with the Ponderosa and Paxi Trails.  You come out to the ranch road again after nest box 11; some white rocks line the path as it joins the ranch road.  Turn right and cross the flat area.  Just past nest box #84 on the right, turn right and follow the path down to 10 Points. During the summer of 1994, when we first owned the property, we camped out on a few weekends.  This trail is named for the first spot where we camped.  The campsite lay on the flat area just west of nest box #84.   Later that September, we bought the sturdy Red Dale (the trailer) and thereafter stayed in it for our weekend visits until we built the house in 2000.

Campsite_e Campsite_middle Campsite_w
  • Paxi Trail

Paxi This trail (denoted by the red square bracket) parallels an ATV trail on the north face of the ridge, leaving from the same area on the ranch road as the Ponderosa Trail and connecting with the Bee Plant Trail for a loop back to the house.  Heading east from the house (photo below, left), the path heads downhill.  A short ways down, on the right, you’ll see an unmarked cut-off path leading up and over the ridge (green arrow at Cut-off on the map).  This path connects to the Bee Plant Trail above the bench—a nice “escape” path if rains start or you just want a short loop.  After a couple of switchbacks, the Ponderosa Trail comes in on the left at the ATV trail (photo below, middle—seen from the Ponderosa Trail).  The Paxi Trail continues down the north face until it curves across the ATV trail that runs down the ridge (photo below, right—seen looking west toward the eastern terminus of Paxi).  At that point, the Bee Plant Trail continues to the right, back to 10 Points; the Uinta Trail heads downhill a bit to the left.  Nest box #81 marks the junction.

Paxi_w Paxi_mid Paxi_e

As with the Hudson Trail, this trail is also named after a great dog.  Paxi, a blue heeler mix, was my best buddy dog.  He was probably the best trail dog I’ve ever had—he would stop at any junction point, look over his shoulder to see which way we were going, then head the way I pointed.  If he got too far ahead, I’d let out a double whistle, to which he’d come back within view and wait until I acknowledged him—then head off again.  If I wanted him to come back immediately, I’d give a 3-part whistle and he’d come all the way back.

PaxPaxi, 2000 – 2012

  • Ponderosa Trail

Ponderosa

The Ponderosa Trail (pointed out by the red square bracket) goes past the only ponderosa pine on our property—a noteworthy, majestic tree.  Ponderosas are typically found in areas with more rainfall than we have.  Probably some bird dropped a seed that just decided to take root.  The ponderosa can be seen uphill from the 3rd switchback on this trail; a large owl nest box hangs on the tree as well.

Starting at the ranch road (photo below, left), in the same area as the western terminus of the Paxi Trail, the Ponderosa heads down a few switchbacks on the north face of the ridge and then straightens out below the Paxi Trail.  The Uinta Trail heads off to the left just shortly before the trail heads up a bit and ends at the Paxi Trail (photo below, right, looking back from the Paxi Trail), coming in from the right.  This trail is one leg of my favorite trail for a warm summer evening postprandial loop with the dogs.  We head down the Ponderosa Trail, pick up the Paxi Trail midway, return to 10 Points on the Bee Plant Trail, and back to the house on the ZT Trail.  The loop takes 20 – 25 minutes at a moderate pace.

Ponderosa_w Ponderosa_e
  • Uinta Trail

UintaThis trail isn’t named for the Uinta Mountains of Utah but for the fact that the trail itself is in the sun during the winter (“yoo-inta”—say it fast…) and therefore is often free of snow when other, more north-facing or shadowed trails are snow-covered until the sun gets higher in late winter and early spring.  Unfortunately, the connector trails leading to this trail are often deep in snow, so snowshoes or other winter travel gear may be required anyway.

The Uinta Trail (marked by the red square bracket in the upper right corner of the above map) starts part-way down the Ponderosa Trail (photo below, row 1 left).  It parallels the development’s Trail Ridge Road to the north and then wanders southeast across a wash (photo below, row 1 right), then up the ridge by nest box #65 (photo below, row 2 left) across the ATV trail that runs along the ridge from the campsite to the eastern end of the property.  It enters the pinyons again (photo below, row 2 middle) and, after a few switchbacks, links up with the Bee Plant Trail.   At the point where it meets the Bee Plant Trail switchbacks continuing up the south face of the ridge, a path continues to the south down to a wash and over to the beginning of the Lower Prow trail, on Lot #12’s property (photo below, row 2 right).  Remember that you can click on any of the photos to see a larger version.

Uinta_w Uinta_LowPoint
Uinta_Box65 Uinta_switch uintaLowerProw
  • Bee Plant Trail

BeePlant

A few years ago, the open area near the middle of this trail had a lovely patch just brimming with bee plants (Cleome surrulata).  Those plants haven’t appeared so extensively there since then, but the memory lingers.

BeePlantThis trail goes from 10 Points (photo below, left) to the eastern terminus of the Paxi Trail.  If you continue going down the switchbacks after that junction, you’re on the eastern end of the Uinta Trail.  (In the photo below on the right, you can see the Uinta Trail sign point the way to the Uinta switchbacks.)

BeePlant_w BeePlant_e
  • Dougie Trail

The Dougie Trail is named for 1 of 2 young Douglas-firs found on the property.   (The other is on the White Rocks Trail, to the west.)   Found more often between 8,000 and 9,500 feet, Douglas-firs tend to occur with ponderosa and lodgepole pines.  Most likely some bird ate some seeds and dropped one here.  Since Doug-firs tend to like slightly moister north-facing slopes, it makes sense that this spot offered a decent habitat.  Zell put some fencing around it to protect it from desperately hungry wintering deer. 

The Dougie Trail’s eastern trail head has no sign, but it occurs just a bit west of 10 Points (photo below, left).  Coming from the west, if you reach nest box #117 on the right, you’ve gone just a bit too far.)  It heads down for a bit, with the eponymous Douglas-fir (middle photo, below) on the left shortly after the first switchback.  The No Name Trail heads off to connect with the Hudson Trail; on the left.  Just after crossing a faint ATV trail, the trail veers a bit to the right and down toward the wash by the house (where the water softener and water filter exit pipe empties).  The trail heads up a few switchbacks and ends back at the house.  Again, there’s no sign, but the large white rocks on either side of the path mark the way (photo below, right).  Click on any photo to see a larger image.

Dougie_e DougieTree Dougie_w
  • No Name Trail

NoNameHighlighted by the red square bracket on the right, the No Name trail is a short connector trail that connects the Dougie Trail (the north terminus, below left looking from the Dougie Trail heading east) to the Hudson Trail just west of the Smarty Jones Trail (the south terminus, below right looking from the Hudson Trail heading east) via the wash running between these 2 trails.

NoName_n NoName_s

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