In early October, we did a few day hikes around aptly-named Buena Vista, Colorado. The first took us from Denny Creek Trailhead to Browns Pass.
Crossing a log bridge over Denny Creek. The trail’s pine forest smell was immediately relaxing.
The snow-capped Collegiate Peaks were beautiful. As we walked, Shins songs kept playing in our heads because we had just seen them perform at Red Rocks. It was a good soundtrack for the hike.
A few brightly colored leaves still clung to branches.
Even late in the season there was still plenty of water flowing.
Light snow lingered at Browns Pass. Hiking above tree line is Chris’s favorite!
We stayed in a tiny house near Poncha Pass for the evening. Coyotes began howling as an almost full moon rose, illuminating the landscape.
Our second day was another glorious bluebird sky day. We were heading to Marshall Pass via a scenic dirt road. On the way, we stopped at O’Haver Lake with great views of Mt Ouray. (FYI the best campsite is 12A, secluded with excellent views.)
A bighorn sheep scurried away from us in a dense aspen grove.
At Marshall Pass, we saw pine grosbeak snacking in the willows. From there, we hiked along the Colorado Trail and Continental Divide Trail (CDT). Note that the early part of this trail is an old dirt road popular with mountain bikers and a few ATVs. Be alert if you plan to do this hike.
Some other birds were out exploring too ;-)
They don’t call these the Rocky Mountains for nothing!
Mt Ouray rises 13,971 ft on the right. It’s not quite a fourteener, but every bit as dramatic.
Back down at lower elevation, we spotted this buck in a vibrant cottonwood grove.
On our third day, we woke to snow!
The Arkansas River flows next to downtown Buena Vista.
The Barbara Whipple Trail is a short walk from downtown.
Next we checked out Cottonwood Pass, which lies on the Continental Divide.
We hiked a short section of the Colorado Trail and CDT near Cottonwood Pass.
Below tree line we found a flatter trail through a pine forest. The branches were thick with wet snow.
It felt like the end of fall.
Winter had begun in the Rocky Mountains.
The Rockies can be unpredictable weather-wise. This trip provided a perfect mix of snow and sun. We’re excited to return to Buena Vista in summer to see another side of its beauty!