Saturday, October 2, 2010

Beaver Brook - Arapaho National Forest

Steady run through a good chunk of the Beaver Brook parcel in the Arapaho National Forest.

Time: 1:39
Distance: 11.69 miles
Effort: Moderate
Body: Good
Weather: Sunny & Cool

After dropping jP off at a friend's b-day party, I had just enough time to squeeze in a solid and steady jaunt through the 1,442-acre Beaver Brook open space, which, I believe, is partly owned by Clear Creek County and the Arapaho National Forest.

I started running on a gravel service road, just off Highway 103 on Old Squaw Pass Road, that serves as access to a small City of Golden reservoir.  The road drops a couple hundred feet down to the reservoir. About a 1/2 mile from the lake, the trail/road splits. The service road continues right and switchbacks up a mountainside and accesses some beautiful meadows to the north. If you go left, as I did, you're on the Beaver Brook Trail, which climbs steadily to its terminus in another fine meadow surrounded by resplendent aspens in all their fall glory.

I didn't go all the way up the Beaver Brook trail.  Instead, after about a 1/2 mile, I hung a right and followed a nice trail that followed an old (presumably) logging road, climbing steadily through a nice mixed forest above gurgling Beaver Brook, which is still flowing nicely despite the dearth of rain the last month or two. I noted that there appears to be numerous springs still running in this area. Lots of little rivulets heading downhill here and there.

About four miles in, my trail dumped me out on a dirt road somewhere in one of those subdivisions that give firefighters nightmares - dense forest, a number of poorly marked, dead-end roads and many houses with little, if any defensible space. 

I had a pretty good sense of where I wanted to go, so I started following roads wherever my nose led me.  I climbed one road to a high point (and a dead-end) and could see to the southeast a large rock formation that I knew was at the head of Whittier Gulch on Highway 103, right across the road from the upper meadow of the Beaver Brook Watershed, which is where I wanted to be.

So, after a bit of trial and error (and a couple extra miles), I found what seems to be the major thoroughfare of this subdivision, LIttle Bear Creek Road.  I climbed on this dirt road for about three miles until it hit Highway 103. Hung a left here and ran along 103's shoulder to the upper meadow at Beaver Brook. 

The little parking lot here was as full as I've ever seen it. Kids and grown-ups with cameras were milling about, snapping pics of the golden aspens. I quickly hopped on the Beaver Brook Trail and ran it several miles downhill back to the City of Golden Reservoir.  From there, it was a quick climb back up to the truck.

I really enjoyed exploring some parts of this relatively big (and close-in) chunk of public land that I haven't previously seen. There's only one official trail in this area (the Beaver Brook Trail). Still, from what I saw today, there's still more to explore, trail or no trail.

I was a tad late picking up jP from the party. Thankfully, though, no one, including the hosts, seemed to mind.

1,672 feet of elevation gain. Average pace was 8:20.


  1. That's cool. Is it Squaw Pass that has the meadow full of aspens? I think I've stopped there. I'm a little fuzzy on it, but I'll have to check out the trail some time.

    I had a similar adventure Sat. trying to find my way from my place up to Green Mountain in Lakewood by linking parks and trails. Ravines run down from the mountain in all directions, through suburban neighborhoods, and there are some parks here and there, but also undeveloped public land. I almost did it. Regardless it was fun learning about my area, and finding hidden trails I didn't know about. Some great views of treed ravines, prairie terrain, west metro, the foothills.

    With a few additional linkups between public lands it would make a great extended trail system. It's not that far to Golden, for example, and from there to the Clear Creek path.

  2. Nah, the actual Squaw Pass is still several miles west of the Beaver Brook parcel's meadow. This spot is on a bend in the road with a good-sized dirt parking area. The head of the meadow has a nice wooden fence around it, separating the meadow from the parking lot. Directly across the highway is a very big rock formation on a mountainside. Can't miss it.