This quick getaway took us to Colorado, where we flew in early Saturday morning and made the one-and-a-half-hour drive from Denver to Winter Park. We spent the rest of the day acclimating to the higher altitude and exploring the main street of this charming town. Sunday morning was another early one as we like to hit the trails by 6 am. We enjoyed our hike and headed back from Winter Park to Denver to rest and prepare for the first flight out Monday morning. Read on for details about our weekend trip hiking the Continental Divide Trail.
Winter Park, Colorado, is a delightful town. The main street is adorned with small garden beds and flower pots, making it a lovely place to spend the afternoon walking and shopping around. There were chairlifts where an average street bench would typically be, giving a bit more character to the road.
From a recommendation, we enjoyed dinner at Randi's Grill & Pub on the patio. I do love being in a place where it's comfortable to eat outside. Our selections of the Irish nachos, Randi's elk burger, and the applewood turkey sandwich for dinner were tasty, and we were not disappointed.
Living in Texas, there aren't many stores we can go to that have a wide selection of colder-weather necessities, so we took advantage of our location and stopped in at a few local stores as we made the mile walk to the other end of the street.
By the end of our stroll, it was time for a jolt of caffeine and dessert. There weren't any coffee shops still open, but we found ourselves at a restaurant ordering cappuccinos and tasting the chef's pastry for the evening, bomboloni. It was our first time encountering this sweet treat, with raspberry sauce for me and caramel for Josh, and it was delicious!
The mountains serve as the main street's backdrop for Winter Park, and as we took in the view all day Saturday, I was anxiously excited to tackle my first thirteener. We weren't sure what to expect with each peak, so we planned several options to assess and choose our course as we were hiking.
Our first destination was Mt. Flora. With the trailhead immediately connected to one of the main through roads, the accessibility stood out to us and made it a great introductory thirteener. From the start of the trail, it was rocky and an uphill climb. We quickly found ourselves above the tree line where it was windswept. The morning of our hike came with about 30 to 40 mph winds at about 35° F bringing the windchill temp to the low teens. The air was brisk, and I eagerly anticipated the sunrise for added warmth.
At around 2.75-miles, we reached the summit of Mt. Flora, and in all directions, were greeted with gorgeous views. My favorite was looking south toward Torreys, Greys, Evans, and Bierstadt. I was thankful to see someone already built wind shelters made from the rocks at the summit, which made a difference in the coldness, and we were able to hang out and refuel and hydrate before heading on to Breckinridge Peak.
It's worth noting that when you search Breckinridge Peak, most results go to Breckenridge Peak in Breckenridge, Colorado. These are not the same. They are spelled differently and are about an hour away from each other. You won't find Breckinridge Peak listed on Google Maps, but you can find it on AllTrails.
If you're still feeling great and wanting to continue without taking on another thirteener, the Breckinridge Peak summit is roughly 1 mile out and 1 mile back to Mt. Flora and off the beaten path. When following the continental divide trail, you pass by it, but to reach the summit marked by rock cairns, you have to move from the course through some rock beds, which is about half a mile of climbing up a couple of hundred feet.
On our way down, we decided to add Colorado Mines Peak to the otherwise standard return, taking it from a 2.75-mile hike back to just under 4 miles. This stop can be on the way up as well, it's not the most interesting with the weather station, but if you get up there and look south, you can see the entire valley and where we got the beautiful view of the aspens changing colors. If we were to go again, this might be one that we skip.
For the more accomplished hiker or fit person confident and comfortable at higher altitudes, there are multiple other thirteener peaks along the ridgeline including, Mt. Eva & Parry Peak.
We did encounter many hikers climbing up with their dogs. If you're looking for a canine-friendly option, this one seems worth looking at for your next experience.
Overall, Josh and I had a pleasant trip as we explored Winter Park and added another hiking adventure to the books.
Until next time,
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