Johnathan ValdezExplorer

I'm a Colorado native that's passionate about photography, exploring nature, live music, and craft beer. On my free days you'll most likely find me on the trail and behind my camera. Life is short, get out there and explore! Follow my adventures here on The Outbound and on Instagram @capulinflicker.

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about 5 years ago

Come for Hanging Lake, stick around for Spouting Rock

If you've already made the trek up to see Hanging Lake then you'll definitely want to hit this little detour to check out the waterfall that feeds the lake. Definitely a must see!

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about 5 years ago

Gorgeous hike to alpine lakes

This is one of my favorite hikes mostly because of all the lakes. The scenery is absolutely gorgeous, and if you hit the trail during peak conditions you will be treated to some spectacular wildflowers. The trail past Upper Mohawk is not as highly traveled, but will take you to three more lakes. Travel lightly and stay on the trail if you venture onward, the tundra is extremely fragile.

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about 5 years ago

This is an easy hike, but there are some parts that are rocky, make sure you're wearing the appropriate shoes!

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about 5 years ago

From mid-June to October 4th, the Maroon Bells can only be accessed by public bus between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm. So if you want to drive your own car and park, then go early in the morning or later in the evening. Be advised there is a $10 entrance fee per car. Either way, the area near the parking lot is gorgeous and the scenery can't be beat. Take a stroll around the numerous social trails near the lot!

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about 5 years ago

The hike up to Crater lake is short but beautiful, plus it puts you right at the foot of the Bells. If you want to make a longer day hike, then add on the hike to Buckskin Pass. From there you can get views of Snowmass Lake and the surrounding peaks. Absolutely beautiful!

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about 5 years ago

Quintessential Colorado adventure!

If you're in Colorado then checking off Garden of the Gods is definitely a must do. The park has miles of trails for you to choose from and every one is a gem. Stick around for sunset, the rocks really explode with color plus the views of Pikes Peak can't be beat. Trinity Brewing is just down the street if you're looking for a post hike brew.

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about 5 years ago

This is a cool little park on the west side of Boulder that gives visitors the opportunity to check out some cool rock formations. Although not as big as say Red Rocks or Garden Of The Gods, the formations still make for some neat exploring.

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about 5 years ago

Great Views in Autumn (and year round)

The views from Kenosha are amazing, especially when you're looking out over South Park. In the fall the parking lots and trails can get pretty busy, but if you get out early you can still find some solitude.

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about 5 years ago

Great snowshoeing trail

This is a great snowshoeing trail for beginners or those looking for something close to Denver. The trail generally has gentle grades, although there are a few sections that are a little steeper, but by and large this place is perfect for those wanting to try out snowshoeing. The trail is easily accessible, but if coming in winter you will need a high clearance vehicle to make it to the proper trailhead. Commuter cars will have to park at the end of the pavement and hike in.

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about 5 years ago

Choose one pass for a day hike

If you're looking for a day hike, either West Maroon or Buckskin Pass can be completed as day hikes. We did Buckskin when we were in the area and the views were spectacular. From Crater Lake you bear right at the intersection to travel up Minnehaha Gulch up to Buckskin Pass. The roundtrip mileage is about 9 total and the gain up to Buckskin can be challenging, but it's definitely worth the effort!

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about 5 years ago

This is a great hike that will give you fantastic views of the nearby 14ers from Murray Lake. Towards the top, the trail can get boggy if it is early in the season, so make sure your boots are waterproof. If you make the trek to Murray Lake, please be aware that there is no defined trail to the shore. Use caution when walking on the fragile alpine tundra and try to use stepping stones as much as possible to preserve the area!

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about 5 years ago

Going for the combo can be done is one day, but be sure to give yourself enough time to summit both peaks and off the trail before the afternoon thunderstorms roll in. Much of this trail is exposed, so there won't be much cover if a thunderstorm pops up on you. The access road can be bumpy and you'll need high clearance to get all the way to the trailhead. There are several pullouts on the way up, however, so if you're in a commuter car you can make it about halfway up the road.

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about 5 years ago

Being one of the closer and easier 14ers to Denver, be prepared to fight the crowds on the trail. Be sure to arrive early and plan on submitting before noon. Don't take chances with the weather, if things are looking bad then turn around and get below treeline as soon as possible. And as always, bring plenty of water and sunscreen!

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about 5 years ago

This is a great trail near Denver-metro for the beginner. The trail is wide and well maintained, plus you'll get some great views of the foothills!

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about 5 years ago

Get there early!

Brainard Lake Recreation Area is the perfect spot for the outdoor enthusiast, but if you're planning on doing this hike on the weekend then definitely get to the entrance gate early in the morning. If you wait til later in the day, be prepared to wait in line at the entrance gate, sometimes for half an hour or longer! Besides, an early morning start will ensure that you miss the afternoon thunderstorms that roll through the area in the summer months.

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about 5 years ago

Sure, the Jenny Lake Area is one of the top tourist attractions in GTNP, but we hiked this trail in mid-July and didn't feel like we were overwhelmed by other hikers. Plus, we figured we'd be seeing other people along the way anyway so we were prepared to run into other hikers. That being said, I still felt like there were plenty of times when we were hiking just by ourselves. Plus the falls are absolutely beautiful. The trail will take you on the backside of Jenny Lake and often times you will feel like you're hiking in the PNW because the vegetation is so lush.

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about 5 years ago

This is definitely one of my favorite hikes near Boulder. The trail can be steep at times, but keep pushing because the payoff at the end is worth it. On a clear day you can see all the way to DIA!

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about 5 years ago

This is an awesome hike if you're looking to stick close to Boulder. It gets busy in the summer, but probably not as busy an Chautauqua, plus you still get great views of downtown Boulder as well as the Flatirons to the south. After the hike, be sure to stop at the new Avery taproom for food and beer!

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about 5 years ago

Beautiful hike, just please respect the area

This is a quintessential Colorado hike that takes you to one of the most spectacular lakes around. If you've flipped through a Colorado landscape calendar chances are you've seen a shot of this lake. There is a fallen log in the middle of the lake that looks inviting for walking onto, but please please PLEASE do not walk on the log. The Forest Service has put up signs that walking on the log is not allowed. Not only is this for safety reasons, but also because the ecosystem surrounding the lake is extremely fragile. Walking on the log can introduce contaminates into the water which can degrade the clarity of the lake. I know the log looks inviting, but if you respect nature and want to keep the area preserved for other to enjoy, stay on the boardwalks.

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over 5 years ago

A photographer's dream

The Paint Mines are perfect place to visit for the shutter bug. The geologic formations and the rainbow of colors make for some great pictures. The park is also great for families as the trails are all fairly easy the the kids will love running around and exploring.

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over 5 years ago

Beat the weekend crowds

Finding campsites here in the summer on the weekends can be a battle against RV'ers and ATVs. Stake your claim early or be prepared for searching out a campsite if you're car camping.

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over 5 years ago

Some of the best aspen groves around!

The aspens groves on this drive are some of the biggest in Colorado. Make sure you time your trip for peak colors, this usually starts the last week of September until early October.

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over 5 years ago

Check the reservoir conditions

Be sure to check with the local ranger station to get an update on the lake's water level. They drain the lake in late summer, so if you hike up there expecting a ton of water you might be disappointed. It's still beautiful nonetheless, however!

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almost 6 years ago

There are two waterfalls that you have to cross on the trail, make sure you wear good shoes/boots unless you wanna take a dip. The wildflowers are best in July.