Last week I decided to take advantage of a beautiful Indian Summer day here in Colorado and head out with a friend for a mountain trail ride on horseback. On the way up to Estes Park from Boulder, there’s a great spot for a trail ride just west of the town of Lyons, called Hall Ranch (part of the Boulder County open space). Hall Ranch has over 3,000 acres of rolling grasslands, sandstone buttes, lots of wildlife, and stunning views. Another important feature for riding is the easy horse trailer pull through in the parking area.
We took the Nighthawk Trail, which is 4.7 miles to the top. At the top, we stopped for a bite to eat, and enjoy the views. While I was taking a picture, my horse decided that my friend’s peanut caramel bar would make a great snack, and he scarfed it down. I ran over just in time to pry the wrapper from his mouth….and for him to set his sights on my peanut butter cheese crackers!
After “the snack”, we headed across to the Nelson Loop and back around to the start. There were several good areas where we could bring the horses to a canter. The Bitterroot Trail and Nelson Loop side are heavily used by mountain bikers, but they were happy to share the trail with us. The last downhill to the parking area was via an access road running alongside the Bitterroot trail – no horses allowed on that section.
With beautiful terrain and expansive views, red rock and ponderosa pine, mountain meadows, and rocky uphills, I’m adding this to my list of favorite spots to ride!
Is it Sparring or a Fight?
Every rut season I hear plenty of people tell me they saw an elk fight, where in reality it was just a sparring match. The best way to tell is if the two involved are the largest bulls in the area and they were very close to cows (female elk), then you likely have seen a fight. Fights have dust flying, it happens fast and it's over faster. Sparring starts off slow with slow movement of the animals' antlers. It starts with one bull presenting his rack then the other accepting, then the sparring has begun. Usually a sparring match ends just as it began, very slowly.
Blog post by Jared Griscoskie of Yellow Wood Guiding. Find out about how you can take a guided tour of RMNP at YWGuiding.com.