Fraser Valley " Chainsaw Trail makes a nice fall hike |

Fraser Valley " Chainsaw Trail makes a nice fall hike

Grand County, Coloraod

If you’re looking for a nice, short fall hike, try Chainsaw Trail in the Fraser (Colorado) Experimental Forest.

A few week ago I went hiking there with two friends, Laura Wo from Michigan and Laura Kelch, from Denver. To find the trail we turned south on CR 72 in Fraser at the Fraser Valley Shopping Center and stayed on the road for a few miles until we reached a parking area at the Fraser Experimental Forest. We then started the mile-and-a-half trail by taking the path on the right instead of the one straight ahead.

The trail was a little narrow, not wide enough to walk side-by-side but more than enough room for one person. Portions of the trail were a little muddy as well. The first half of the trail was flat or downhill.

There were many great views along the way. We stopped several times to take pictures. In the beginning of the trail a breeze blew hundreds of golden leaves from the trees. They fell like snowflakes.

Much of the trail was wooded, but after a while we also had a good view of Bear Claw (Parry Peak) and the Fraser Valley. It seemed like there was more open space, and a couple large slash piles to prove it.

The fall wind sounded a little squeaky at times, and I’d examine the surrounding trees to make sure none of them were ready to fall.

It seemed like we went almost a mile when we were at the lowest portion of the trail. It looked like a couple of abandoned streets with trees in the way. Instead of guessing which way would lead to the car, we decided to just go back up where we came from.

So, we turned around and this is where the hiking came in. It was more of a workout to climb back up to the car.

Moose encounter

After living in Grand County for more than six months I still hadn’t seen any moose or elk. When I found out about Elk Fest I thought, “That’s my chance.”

So, we first headed from Fraser to Rocky Mountain National Park. But, when we got to the entrance a woman explained to us that Trail Ridge Road had closed the night before.

We turned around and were disappointed about our luck. We didn’t have enough time to backtrack and take I-70 to Estes so we decided to go explore the east side of the county, and that’s when we came across Chainsaw and completed the trail.

Just a couple minutes after getting into the car and driving, a mother moose and calf ran right across the road in front of us, luckily not so close that I had to slam on the brakes. I stopped where they ran into the woods, and Wo rolled down the window to try to take a photo. At the time it seemed like she was going in slow motion so I encouraged her to just jump out of the car. When she did, Kelch screamed that the giant father moose with antlers was directly behind my car, and two feet away from where Wo got out. Wo accidentally taped the moose, but now she has a good video. I also pulled out my camera and got out of the car to get a better look too. I didn’t get a good photo either because it was too deep into the woods by then and my camera doesn’t have a long zoom lens.

This was the first time any of us had seen a moose and for a couple minutes we just stared at them through the trees while the mom and baby moose looked back at us.

The male moose tried to hide behind the trees, but the mammal’s huge figure and rack were still apparent.

Even though we didn’t make it to Elk Fest, we still enjoyed our Moose Fest.

Trail open year-round

The elevation of Chainsaw Trail is below 9,000 feet, says Miles Miller, U.S. Forest Service recreation planner.

“There’s a couple spots where you have a nice view of the St. Louis Creek,” he said. “Its really a year-round trail.”

This trail is open to snowmobiles, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Officials discourage mountain bikers from using the trail between seasons when it’s soft.

The trail was closed a portion of last winter for logging, a third of the area has been logged and it will close again for a period of time this winter for more logging and for public safety purposes.

“There are standing dead trees along every trail that we have,” Miller said. “All standing dead trees are eventually going to come down.”

The longer they stand, there’s a greater chance that they will fall. The majority of beetle-infested trees fall within 15 years, he added.

Gary McGraw, U.S. Forest Service Adopt a Trail coordinator, said another advantage open space provides besides better views is that the sun is able to dry trails more quickly.

Support Local Journalism

Support Local Journalism

The Sky-Hi News strives to deliver powerful stories that spark emotion and focus on the place we live.

Over the past year, contributions from readers like you helped to fund some of our most important reporting, including coverage of the East Troublesome Fire.

If you value local journalism, consider making a contribution to our newsroom in support of the work we do.


Start a dialogue, stay on topic and be civil.
If you don't follow the rules, your comment may be deleted.

User Legend: iconModerator iconTrusted User


See more