I am sure I hiked Homestead Meadows when I was still in single digits… following my folks. This history lesson nestled in the Roosevelt National Forest is truly one of my favorite places to hike or ride. Over the years, I have watched the historic structures succumb to the forces of wind and rain. Nevertheless, there are still many amazing sites to see in this beautiful forest.
I wrote about Homestead Meadows in January of 2019. In Riding the Rockies BEFORE the Flood, I described the innumerable times I rode the many trails available at this location. I often took horse friend guests to this destination. Here is a photo of my Kansas riding instructor and her family during their week-long visit in 2013.
The Great Flood of 2013 changed this area significantly. In my post about Riding the Rockies AFTER the Flood, I described a sticky situation I encountered due to topographical changes in the meadow. I didn’t get back to Estes Park until 6 years later when Alan and I rode here in 2019. He was riding Kadeen, my gray Arabian, and I was riding Finn. (There are many blog posts about Finn!) Here is Alan in front of one of the many cabin ruins.
Because Homestead Meadows is a Larimer County Park, we didn’t need a coveted RMNP pass. You do need a Larimer County Park pass. We get a yearly one, but daily passes are available. This area is actually called Hermit Park. There is a horse camp located a quarter of a mile from where we park to day ride. Unfortunately, they allow non-horse campers to reserve the sites, so rarely do we see horse people there. It is dry camping only… another deterrent to large numbers of campers. To my knowledge, it is one of the only places near Estes Park where horse people can land and find horse accommodations.
As you can see from my Garmin watch recording, it was a warm day! There are many options when riding Homestead Meadows… this is just the “basic” route to the meadow and back. We traveled 7.7 miles in a little less than 3 hours, which included lunchtime. It is less than a 1000 feet elevation gain, so not a hard ride.
We didn’t encounter many hikers. The hiking trailhead is called Lyons Gulch and is accessed off of Highway 36. There is room for a horse trailer and it is possible to begin your ride there as well, but the Hermit Park location is larger and safer for horses. However, you don’t need a park pass to start from the Lyons Gulch trailhead. If you head to the Meadows on this route, be sure and watch for the old Model T that is ditched in the river not far from the meadow area!
We had lunch in the meadow, where I have eaten many, many times in years past. As I have mentioned previously, I am quite careful about where I tie up the horses. We did find a couple of suitable trees where the horses could hang out. Although Alan started the ride on his mare, Sadie, we swapped early on for several reasons. After lunch, we traded horses again.
By the way… the feature photo is of Kadeen, after our ride, enjoying some of the lush grass available in the parking area!