Posts tagged Comanche Peak Wilderness
Always on the lookout for great new hikes in stupendously gorgeous scenery, I stumbled upon the Browns Park Trail while looking for someplace that we haven't hiked already in our Fort Collins backyard.
The Comanche Peak Wilderness is a sprawling wild area on the northern boundary of Rocky Mountain National Park in northern Colorado. Rocky's majestic Mummy Range scenery spills over the boundary line into the Comanche and continues north almost to the Cache la Poudre River.
I have slowly discovered that I really love this area. The mountains are much of what we expect out of the Colorado Rockies, but without the crowds and hassle that usually accompanies on hikes farther south.
The Comanche Peak Wilderness is penetrated by a road exclusion drawn around Crown Point Road - a one-way dirt road that serves no other purpose than to allow access to great camping and hiking areas. And for that this road gets a five star rating from me.
On this late August day, we selected Browns Lake Trail for a lollipop loop to explore the heart of this wilderness.
The Browns Lake Trail heads south from Crown Point Road and immediately climbs the ridge on which Crown Point sits. The Point looks like a jumbled mass of boulders from the trail, but if you continue past it and drop into the alpine tundra-filled valley below, it appears stoically perched alone over the valley.
This valley is really beautiful and unexpected. We actually crossed through forest at higher points to descend into alpine tundra here. The meadows are covered by dense grasses, willow mats, islands of krummholz (gnarled and windblown spruce, pine, and fir), and the views reach west to the Rawah Mountains and east to the Great Plains.
We continued south, up and over another ridge before finding a junction with the Flowers Trail. We could have continued south to descend to Browns Lake, but we weren't sure what the weather was up to, so we opted for a shorter loop.
Taking Flowers Trail westward, we traversed through an open forest of pine, spruce, and fir in the process of being attacked by mountain pine beetles - evidenced by the dense cover of reddish needles on the ground - and found a nice viewpoint that revealed Browns Lake and nearby Timberline Lake to the south. Directly beyond was the Comanche Peak massif - a large cirque dominated by Comanche Peak itself.