The time for fall foliage color in Colorado left about a month ago, which was about the time of my last post. Apologies for not being here during that time, but I’ve been busy with projects from my copywriting business.
I am back now, ready to share one of the most treasured natural wonders we have here in the Centennial State – the turning of aspen tree leaves from verdant green to seventeen shades of yellow, gold and orange…like this:
Aspens grow all over the Front Range, but they thrive in groves in the high country, at elevations of 8,000 feet and above. They are actually a network of trees all sharing one root system. They’re also called quaking aspen, because their leaves flutter and make the trees look like they’re shaking. One of the most magical things anyone can experience is walking through the forest of aspen groves, a slight wind passing through, with leaves rustling and cascading around you like Mother Nature’s confetti.
Because my family and I live in the foothills of the Rockies, we don’t have to go too far to get our fix of this scenery. Granted, it is not as vibrantly hued as the dramatic display of trees in New England, but we think it’s comparable.
RAS and I motored up State Highway 103, also called Squaw Pass Road, just outside of Evergreen to take our closest route to this fall spectacle. About six years ago, we tried this with the girls, but we never got to our destination because NLS became severely carsick, thus necessitating a premature return to Golden. So we attempted this again, teen and tween-free, which then gave us license to stop somewhere and hike as we pleased.
Our plan was to hike somewhere, then possibly go to the top of Mt. Evans, which is one of the few “fourteeners” (the 54 mountains in Colorado over 14,000 feet in elevation) you can drive up to.
We couldn’t have picked a better spot than this open space place, which was about 15 miles up the road from the State Highway 74 turnoff near Evergreen:
I especially enjoyed the shaded areas, and this makeshift lean-to:
When we realized that the path we hiked was continuously heading downhill, we immediately headed back up. It wasn’t a steep climb, just long and steady. Not the best thing at 9,500 feet above sea level with a tired old dog.
After that 45-minute jaunt, we headed further up on the road, until we arrived at Echo Lake and its namesake lodge. This is the base of the Mt. Evans Scenic Byway, a paid road that allows you to drive to the summit of the mountain. We chose not to go there, because we were running short of time. But we did manage to take a short walk around the lake:
The lodge once was a rustic resort for adventurous Denver citizens, as both a summer and winter destination. I can only imagine what this place was like in its holiday heyday. Now it has a standard restaurant and a gift shop chock-full of tchotchkes and other mountain-related souvenirs.
There was so much beauty to this trip, I was hoping that my pictures could convey what we experienced. But I don’t think they truly did. Maybe next year I’ll succeed.