Location: Littleton, CO
Distance from Denver: 22mi (~30min) ♡ ♡ ♡
Hike: ~12.5mi RT ♡
Difficulty: Easy ♡ ♡ ♡
Parking Situation: Large lot, but we can see this being crowded in the summer ♡ ♡
Parking Fee: N/A
Hi friends!! We hope your 2019 is off to a great start :) We are ready for this cold weather to blow over so we can head up to the mountains, but until then we are excited to explore different parts of the front range. For today’s hike, we went out to Waterton Canyon, down by Roxborough State Park south of Littleton.
The drive out there was fast-going, and what struck us was how far away from town the Canyon was - literally, there is a point at which you have to turn otherwise you are entering the super-high security Lockheed Martin facilities. According to the signage, it was one of the very first water treatment facilities for all of Denver! Pretty cool, huh?
The trail starts across the street from this red barn, and clocks in at 12.5mi RT for the whole thing (incidentally, this is the start of the Colorado Trail!). But, the beautiful thing about this trail is that it is interpretive - meaning, you can go as little or as far as you’d like. When Brandon and I went, we turned around at around the 1 mile mark (I will explain why later) so this was a very pleasant morning stroll for us.
The trail was super flat, and not very strenuous. It was a great way to get out on a warm winter day and soak in the beautiful vistas of the front range mountains! We shared the trail with a multitude of other people: from families, joggers, and fly fisherman to mountain bikers and even burro racers! You read that right: burro racers!
You may remember these cute animals from our day trip to Idaho Springs. Imagine our surprise when we saw a pair of them sauntering along the trail! Their owners were kind enough to let us take pictures, and told us how they rescued these cuties from the chopping block in Louisiana.
Be sure to support them at the burro races around town this summer! I was so excited to see these guys because I felt like it was a good omen to see the animals this canyon is famous for - big horn sheep! In fact, these sheep are very special and protected in the canyon, meaning that no dogs are allowed here at all to protect the sheep.
So with this quest in mind, we continued up the canyon a bit farther until we saw a small path leading down to the river bank. This was honestly my “squirrel” moment. We had seen fly fishermen in the water earlier, and I wanted to get down there too in order to practice my photography skills - specifically trying to capture the silky movement of water.
I tried my hardest, but ultimately I failed at getting the picture I wanted - I think we need to purchase a neutral density filter for our Nikon D3300 so that we can really turn down the shutter speed (I was able to get down to 1/2 but I think we need to get closer to a 20-30 second shutter speed to really get the silky movement without over exposing the picture). This is also where the *incident* occurred … *dun dun dun*
So as you can tell, the river was iced over in parts but not fully. We had no problems getting to this dry patch of land by the river bank so I could try my hand at long-exposure photography. But getting back was another story. I saw a big horn sheep up on the ledge and wanted to get back up to the main canyon to be able to photograph the little guy. I was following Brandon as he stepped carefully but at one point, I went rogue …. and I shouldn’t have :( I stepped away from the path he was walking on, and both of my shoes went through the ice: soaking my feet with ICE COLD water. Brandon kind of started panicking at this point because he thought I would get hypothermia (bless him for always thinking of me first; this is the kind of husband you want people ♡). Meanwhile, I was just thinking of getting a picture of the sheep, because…THE BLOG (obviously).
Long story short, I got the picture of the sheep - but Brandon made me promise we’d turn back to the car right after so I could get my shoes and socks off. So here we are, me with all of my toes still in tact AND with my picture of the sheep :) Win/win if you ask me! Next time, though, I plan to stay away from the ice water so that we can venture deeper into the canyon! ♡