We did not take any dispersed camping trips during the fire bans of Summer 2012. Call us wimpy–but the campfire is pretty important to us when you are in the middle of National Forest! I will do a posting of “alternative” mountain trips we did during June and July. Sooo, we were thrilled to be able to take off on a trip in August when the bans had been lifted and our state was receiving more moisture. We headed out on a 4 wheel drive trail to an area above Idaho Springs in Arapahoe National Forest. We now own a Dodge diesel truck and my brother has his Jeep. As a reminder…our pop up has a reversed axel and trailer tires. It sits higher. We often use a book published by Fun Treks to find 4 wheel drive trails and campsites. Check them out! We chose a blue trail to try out.
Getting There: 170 West to Exit 238–Fall River Road. When you exit the hwy you will take a right and head north on Fall River Road. This is a paved road for 6.5 miles. At the bottom of a switchback you will see a very nice gated home and an unmarked road to the left of the house. This is your turn. Here is the house…
You’ll start up the trail. It is rated green (out of green, blue and red). I’m saying it is a strong green and more of a blue as you head up. You’ll come to the fork where you’ll go to the left for Chinn’s Lake…to the right is Fall River Reservoir. The road gets progressively rougher—still rated a blue at this point–but it’s a strong blue! We were pulling our pop-up….so it was a bit of an adventure! Eventually you’ll come to the base of Chinn’s Lake. There is camping right at the entrance. We went around the lake and camped above. On one side of the site was Chinn’s Lake–the other side was Sherman Lake. This took about an hour from the hwy.
Here is the easiest spot (then I was hanging on!)
We needed a spot large enough for the pop-up, the truck, 2 tents and the Jeep. It was a bit more exposed than we would have liked (there was wind later) but it was a nice spot with great views. There were probably only 3 or 4 spots total that we saw that would accommodate a pop-up. As it turns out–we didn’t see any other pop-ups…just tents 🙂 There were far more people than we would have expected on a Thursday and up that road! On Friday, they cleared out and the new batch of people started up in the afternoon. There were a few partiers and a little hooting and hollering. Nothing too annoying though.
The lakes were very, very low. It was fun to explore what used to be under water…but we all agreed we’d like to see this area after a better winter. We did some fishing also. ATV’s, backpackers and hikers were also in the area.
We returned to Rainbow Falls area for a second trip. After a stop in Woodland Park; the road to Rainbow Falls is nearby. This is a heavy traversed area for ATV’s. The first area we arrived at was a huge parking lot and bathrooms…as we continued down the road there are many spots where ATV’ers can camp and then use the road for play. If this is you…great! If this is not you…you need to head UP! There are a few roads that begin to go up above the main ATV area. This is where we went. The views are fabulous and the spots are large and plentiful. This is not an area with any water nearby…just basic wooded camping. For entertainment we continued to explore the roads and the views. There are 4 by 4 trails and walking trails. You are in Pike National Forrest.
From Woodland Park take Hwy 67 for 10.5 miles north
Rainbow Falls road will be on your right
This is a quick dispersed spot to get to from Hwy 7….on the way to Allenspark. Our kids go to camp every summer at Highlands Presbyterian Camp which is just around the corner. So, we decided to pick them up and have them live without showers another day or so! The Bunce School Trail Head is a popular 4 wheel drive area–it also connects to Camp Dick and can go through Peaceful Valley. We found this spot just past the historic Bunce School. It is a pretty busy area. There were lots of ATV trails as well and Saturday was a pretty heavy day for them to be whizzing past our campsite. We took out my brothers jeep on a few roads and there are great views. This really isn’t the site for peace and quiet, however. We were camping in a tent this particular weekend…but a pop-up could easily get into the area. This was a really quick trip for us and we didn’t really look for a long time for a spot. I do think this area provides many other spots–particularly through the Peaceful Valley and next to the Vrain river. Plan to explore this more at some point!
Bunce School Trailhead: Take Highway 7 from Lyons to Allenspark. After the turnoff for Highway 72, there is a brown sign for a “Point of Interest.” Follow the sign, and you’ll find yourself at the old Bunce School and the northern start of the Bunce School trail.
This is actually a great spot for a family photo—Christmas cards or whatever!
Kelsey thinks so too 🙂 She always is willing to pose for us!
This is one of the best sites we have had! Although getting to Devil’s Canyon is a bit of an adventure. The 4 wheel drive road is a firm moderate….no problem for those that regularly do off road trails. Slow driving got our Envoy up the road…..
170 west to exit 240-Mt. Evans Road
Go to 10 mile marker….just past this about .3 mile is the Devil’s Canyon Road on your left….easy to miss. From here, stay on A road. It forks left then right….about 20 minutes up you will come to the loop…go right. This spot will be on your left. If you go a bit further and take a right on an almost hidden road there is another great spot.
IMPORTANT: Always stay to Road A! Signs can be confusing.
We had the mountain to ourselves it seemed! We saw very few others. Spectacular views.
The Panoramic View……..
We started off with the intention of going to Devil’s Canyon off of Mt. Evans road. Although it was after June 15th–the road was still closed. So, we headed up Cascade Creek Road to find camping and 4 wheel drive trails.
How to get there:
1-70 west from Denver
Exit 240 Idaho Springs–turn left
This puts you on the Mt. Evans Road
Mile marker 5–go past half mile and you will see the road on your right.
This road is rated moderate (blue) with regards to 4 wheel driving. We had our Envoy and pop-up. It is slow going and rocky. The pop-up actually has more clearance than our Envoy–as the axle is reversed. Not too far up, there is a camping spot to your right. This may be about as adventurous as most want to be and somehow we missed it going up the first time. At 710.01c we did the switch back and kept climbing. Then you come to a dead end road that you can turn on to your right. Any higher on the road–we couldn’t get up. My brother came up in his jeep and later we explored the rest of the road that took us to the top. So, we backed the pop-up down the narrow road as far as we could go and when we were directly above a small tent-site and campfire ring. We popped up on the top of the road–my brother set up his tent below. Not too bad–the kids had the rest of the road to explore. No traffic turned down the road during the weekend.