The parking lot and trailhead for Round Mountain Nature Trail in Colorado is visible to me when I hike from home to the top of Palisade Mountain. According to AllTrails and Colorado Trails Explorer (COTREX), Round Mountain Nature Trail is horse friendly. In fact, you can hike or ride to Stone Mountain as well, and the trailhead starts at the same place. The trail to Sheep Mountain splits off from the Stone Mountain trail. But here is where it gets interesting…
COTREX says that all three trails are horse friendly. AllTrails does not include horseback riding as allowable on the Sheep Mountain Trail. And Alan and I are here to tell you that we don’t think either Sheep or Stone Mountain trails are very good for horses… and we have done some tough trails. Let me tell you how our ride unfolded.
Because I was under the impression that there were at least 5 or more miles of trail to ride, Alan and I decided to haul the horses to this trailhead so close to our home. Dogs were also allowed, and this trail isn’t as heavily used as those in Loveland or Fort Collins. The parking area isn’t very large, and there were 6-8 cars already there when we arrived. However, we managed to find an out-of-the-way area to park the truck and trailer. We tacked up and headed out.
Which trail to take?
The trailhead is clearly marked and quite wide at the beginning. We hadn’t ridden very far when we came to a split in the trail. One way was marked “Nature trail” and the other way pointed to the “Summit Trail.” The research I had done talked about the Round Mountain trail but didn’t describe it as a “nature trail.” We decided that the Summit trail was probably what we wanted, so we turned left and headed that way.
We hadn’t gone far when we found ourselves on a narrow, rocky trail with pretty significant drop-offs on our left. The dogs were ahead of us, single file, and doing okay… but this was not what we had bargained for. I was in front, with the dogs in front of me. I passed a small, carved-out area on my right. It was large enough for Alan to come up behind me and turn Sadie around. After he completed his turn, I backed Kadeen a few steps and did the same thing.
Now Alan was in front, followed by me on Kadeen, and the dogs behind me. The dogs get a bit discombobulated when they are behind us. However, there really wasn’t a good place for them to pass.
We hadn’t gone too far when Alan spied a trail leading off to the left. For some reason, he decided that was the trail we were looking for, so off he went! I must claim some ownership as well, as we swapped places again and I was now in front, with the dogs in front of me.
This trail was also narrow, but not so rocky. What it lacked in rocks it made up for in slope and soft dirt… The horses worked hard to keep their footing. I could tell Kadeen was questioning the wisdom of our route. While he was busy keeping his feet underneath him, I was watching for the very low branches and closely spaced trees. I acquired a few scratches and bruises as I dodged trees and rocks.
Once again, we didn’t go far before I declared to Alan that clearly, this was not the trail we wanted either! We turned around for the second time.
Back on the Round Mountain Nature Trail
We finally made our way back to the wide, dirt, solid nature trail. Horses, dogs, and humans breathed a collective sigh of relief! Unfortunately, the nature trail is short. It didn’t take us long to get to the top. There is a cute little hut at the top, built by the Civilian Conservation Corps, or CCC. There is a loop that takes you by the hut and back to the main trail.
We did a little off-trail exploring but didn’t get far. We didn’t even get 5 miles in that day. There is a little trail that leads to the park across the street, and we followed that too. We covered enough to make the dogs happy and it was a beautful day… so it was good. Well, almost…
A lost phone
We got home and followed our usual routine… I head to the house and rescue Mica, the left-behind German Shepherd. Alan unloads the horses. Within a few minutes, Alan shouts to me to call his phone. I do… but we don’t hear his phone ringing. He searches the truck, the trailer, and everywhere else… no luck.
We decide he must have lost it on the trail. We both have Otterbox Defender cases on our phones. Mine never comes off my belt. It has occasionally been snagged when I am mounting or dismounting, but even then it has stayed attached to my belt. We presumed that Alan’s must have come off during the ride, or perhaps as we were tacking up or untacking.
We really didn’t want to load up the horses again, and I really didn’t want to ride them again on the crazy trails we had encountered. Instead, we headed back to walk the trail. Neither one of us was at all in the mood to walk a few miles, but finding an iPhone was somewhat motivating!
We didn’t find the phone near where we parked. We headed up the nature trail and split up… I took the angled dirt trail with the low branches, and Alan took the cliff trail. I added a few more nicks and scratches to my body as I tried to retrace our steps. Neither of us found the phone.
As we were starting the climb up the nature trail towards the CCC hut, we encounted a family coming down. We asked if they had found a phone… they had not. But they had thorougly explored the area with their little kids, picking up rocks and other treasures. We figured if the phone was there, they would have found it. We accepted our loss and headed for home.
A new phone
The next day, we headed to the Verizon store and Alan bought another phone. Sadly, he still remained on the dark side with another iPhone, even though I have repeatedly tried to convince him to see the light and get an Android!
The day after acquiring a new phone, we headed to Kansas. (I had a medical treatment, something I will write about in a future blog. It is an amazing therapy… applicable to both people and animals.) As we were settling in for the night in our new-to-us motorhome, my phone rang. It was a neighbor on our mountain. Alan’s phone had been found by the guy grading our pot-holed access road! The workman had flagged down the first car he encountered coming up the hill and turned over the phone.
We decided that Alan must have set the phone on the truck tailgate or somewhere similar. He has done that before. It is amazing that the phone rode there all the way up Highway 34 to Drake. It was only after we started up our access road that it was bounced off!
Coming soon, I’ll talk about our rides to Bobcat Ridge Nature area, and Devil’s Backbone. We got into some technical stuff on Bobcat Ridge, and made decisions about which loops to ride at Devil’s Backbone based on some concerns about safety. We have done some very technical rides, such as Odessa Lake. However, we have nothing to prove and we really don’t want to get hurt… life is way too fun right now!