The Doe Creek loop makes a satifsying Grand County day hike
November 5, 2008
There’s something about the Doe Creek hike in the Arapaho National Forest that grants satisfaction.
It’s a hike not as touristy and popular as the scenic creekside trails that sprout out of Monarch and Columbine lakes, but for a hike that offers a good intermediate workout or a brisk Sunday breather, Doe Creek is a great pick.
It may sound simple, but a 1.5-hour dog-friendly loop such as Doe Creek’s saves day-hikers from having to forfeit the “rest” of the hike such as on lengthier trails.
Am I alone mildly agonizing about what scenery I might miss when arbitrarily turning around and heading back to the trailhead? Loops offer varying scenery in a single trek.
Doe Creek’s especially. Nearly midway through, users emerge from aspen trees into an expansive meadow. Early autumn to November is its best show. The golden meadowland is striking in sunlight, and the path is finally dry, unlike early summer.
From the parking lot of the Doe Creek loop, naturally follow the trail to the meadow and beyond.
This energetic leg of the hike has minimal incline and can be treated much like a warm up. About 200 yards past the meadow back in the trees, consider it the “aerobic” zone with a 15- to 20-minute incline triggering some heavy breathing.
Like a spin-cycle workout at the top of the climb, Doe Creek loop hikers then continue a steady trail with ridgetop peek-a-boos of Lake Granby through the trees.
Eventually, a gentler downward slope meets up with the original path and leads users back to the trailhead.
The Doe Creek loop, as it is affectionately known among locals, is open to snowmobiling, hiking, horseback riding, and bicycling, but is closed to ATVs, motorcycles and 4-by-4 vehicles. Since the trail is open to snowmobilers in winter, orange tree markers direct path users.
An Arapaho National Recreation Area pass is needed to access the hike, and the area is affected by the mountain pine beetles so all hikers should be alert for falling trees.
The Doe Creek trailhead accesses the 3.4-mile Strawberry West Trail, the 9.6-mile High Lonesome Trail and the 4.3-mile Caribou Trail.