By August, hubby and I clearly couldn’t be stopped from skipping town almost every weekend to camp in the woods. We had camped six out of the 10 weekends in the season thus far, but we hit a snag the first weekend in August when we were signed up for pupsitting duty for two of our favorite fur babies that we watch frequently.
Just because we couldn’t camp with four dogs didn’t mean we couldn’t have an adventure though! What dog doesn’t like playing co-pilot and hanging their head out the car window to get some fresh mountain air!? We wrangled up the 16-paw crew in our Wrangler and hit the road for a 4WD day-adventure!
Before hubby and I purchased our 4WD vehicle, I took great pride in earning my scenic outdoor views on two legs or two wheels. Afterwards, I realized how nice it was (bumpy ride and scary obstacles aside) to just sit back and enjoy the views in a vehicle. Besides, it had become increasingly difficult to continue social distancing with outdoor activities in Colorado as the weather got better and every Coloradan had decided that hiking was suddenly their most favorite hobby! Taking the Jeep was an easy way to have outdoors adventures while keeping socially distant.
We picked Loch Lomond Trail as the first adventure for the day’s itinerary. The trail is only an hour outside Denver and has a beautiful lake with a small waterfall that decorates the far end, so one can imagine how crowded it gets on the weekends! We had never done Loch Lomond Trail before and it turned out that the more pleasant way to do it is to drive it anyway (if you have a capable 4WD, high clearance vehicle) because there are more vehicles driving the trail than people hoofing it.
The 2.5 mile road/trail to Loch Lomond Lake was extremely bumpy in a Jeep, but we were so glad to cheat most of the trail by driving because there was still some hiking left after getting to this first lake where the vehicle road ends. We took our doggie co-pilots out for a quick, short (but very steep) half-mile hike up to the second a third lakes past Loch Lomond Lake, but didn’t stick around long before we were off for our second adventure of the day.
Our second Jeeping adventure for the day, Argentine Pass and McClellan Mountain, was only 30 minutes away from Loch Lomond and started outside Georgetown on Guanella Pass. Guanella Pass is one of the most scenic drives outside Denver, especially for seeing autumn colors, but even though we had driven the pass many times, we still had never known there was a 4WD off-shoot that leads to a serene valley and to a mountain top with 360 degree views.
This 4WD road was the perfect example of why “cheating” a trail in a Jeep was a heck of a lot better than hoofing it on foot; the trail led through forest for almost six miles before it finally opened up to the incredible views of the valley. On foot, this journey would have taken us a whole day and we still might not have seen all that this mountain pass had to offer, unless we backpacked overnight.
One of the coolest parts of this trail was that at the top of McClellan Mountain, we could see down the valley on the other side where there is a foot trail to two popular 14ers, Grays Peak and Torreys Peak, one of which hubby and I hiked in 2014. It was really neat to see the entire 8-mile length of this trail from above.
On our way back to the trailhead, we were treated to an unexpected moose sighting, the first of three we saw this past season. I couldn’t help but wonder where this giant beauty was hiding in this vast, open landscape, since we had passed through this spot earlier and there was no trace of a moose for miles.
You can bet that we’ll be back next season to camp in this little piece of paradise tucked away in the mountains just an hour outside of Denver!