Grand County Rambler: Off the beaten path in Tabernash hills
If you’re looking to check out the high country this weekend but don’t want to spend your time on the trail in a queue consider checking out some of Grand County’s less frequented trails and wilderness areas.
Just a short ways northeast of Tabernash are a series of rolling mountain hills covered in lodgepole pines with small stands of aspen trees. My family calls the area the Tabernash Hills. Calling the regional slopes “hills” is somewhat of a misnomer though as the modest landscape climbs abruptly east towards the high craggy peaks of the continental divide.
Within this swath of land, resting between US 40 and the divide and between the Three Lakes region and the Fraser Valley, are a series of Forest Service roads and hiking trails. A significant portion of the area, though not all of it, is located within the Arapaho National Recreation Area (ANRA), including the very popular Meadow Creek Reservoir.
The area provides easy access from the communities of Fraser and Winter Park and can become thick with recreators in certain spots at certain times of year. But for those who know where to go, or where to look, the region offers many options for outdoor adventures without much in terms of crowds.
There are several quality trails in the area as well as some notable sights worth exploring. A modest drive up Strawberry Road will take visitors to the Fraser River Canyon Trailhead. From the trailhead hikers will traverse a short sparsely wooded section of forest before descending into the valley proper. After reaching the banks of the Fraser folks can explore the river canyon north towards the Granby area. Impromptu trails run along the banks of the river allowing travel for a distance. Keep your eyes peeled for fly fishermen.
A ways up the Forest Service road that leads to Meadow Creek Reservoir is a parking pull-off for the trailhead leading to the High Lonesome Hut, a backcountry accommodation that sees use throughout the year. The trail, called Strawberry Trail, quickly drops into a local valley and runs adjacent Meadow Creek. For the truly adventurous the trail can be taken well past the High Lonesome Hut and on to Granby Reservoir.
If you keep driving towards Meadow Creek Reservoir you will eventually come across another Forest Service Road cutting back to the southeast. This road will take you on a meandering route through the forest to Hurd Creek. From Hurd Creek you can take the Hurd Creek Trail north towards the divide or take a few moments to check out the beautiful Hurd Creek rock climbing area, which offers spectacular views of the Fraser Valley far below. To find the climbing area look for a trail cutting west through the forest with a small log bridge across Hurd Creek.
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