From one of Colorado’s best backpacking loops to a hide-away car camping spot, we’ve got you covered.
When the summer months hit, the collective rush to flee the Front Range in search of the healing powers of the Rocky Mountains can be anxiety-inducing. Bearded, flannel wearing men and women donning Chacos race to fill the trunks of the Subarus by the thousands. Finding locations to escape for the weekend can feel impossible and wildly competitive. Worry no more, whether you’re gearing up for backpacking or a simple night of car camping accompanied by a hike, here are two less-traveled getaways to put on your radar.
Located in central Colorado in Jefferson County just a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Denver via U.S. Route 285, sits nearly 120,000 acres of Lost Creek Wilderness, situated within Pike National Forest. Offering a collection of out-and-back hikes with campsites peppered along the way and one of the best backpacking loops on the Front Range, the Lost Creek Wilderness Loop. Consisting of around 28 miles of more difficult trail and nearly 3,500 in vertical gain, this loop provides everything from stream crossings (prepare for mud in the early season), to aspen groves, to views of Pikes Peak, and traveling past granite rock features on Bison Peak. (Reminiscent of what you might imagine Mars to look like.)
Starting from Lost Park or Goose Creek trailheads, folks can choose to complete the full loop in two to three days. Plan to set up camp at least 100 feet from the tail and any water source and enjoy the fantastic Mars-like rock gardens atop Bison Peak.
For an easier, single night trip with developed campsites, there’s the option to camp at Goose Creek Campground within Lost Creek Wilderness. From Goose Creek Trailhead, there is access to trails along Goose Creek and Hankins Pass Trails. Lost Creek Wilderness does allow dogs (on a leash) and permits are self-serve in the parking lot.
“Hiking trails may be accessible in April and expect wildflowers to bloom in May,” says a spokesperson for the Forest Service from the Pike and San Isabel Nation Forests. “Goose Creek Campground opens on Memorial Day, has ten first-come-first-serve sites, and group sizes should never exceed 15 people.”
Car camping more your speed? Head up to Horseshoe Campground next to Williams Fork River southwest of Fraser or an hour north of Silverthorne over Ute Pass Rd. Located in Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forest, these are first-come-first-serve sites that open for camping starting June 1.