I did a little over 4 mile “out and back” hike up Waterton Canyon today with my sister. I’ld never been up that way before. After this hike, while I’m curious enough to go back and do the full 8 mile out and back to the first major dam, it definitely is not my top choice in fun hikes in the area. Part of my lack of enthusiasm with it was that it was so hot today and there really is no shade along the route accept in a few areas. The other issue I had is that while it appears to be a great, easy mountain bike ride down a dirt road along the South Platte River, it is not the most engaging of hiking trails. That being said I only went down a short way.
Total distance: 4.5 mi, Total time: 1:41:32, Moving time: 1:21:26, Avg moving speed: 3.3 mi/h, Max speed: 6.8 mi/h, Avg moving pace: 18.1 min/mi, Fastest pace: 8.8 min/mi, Max elev: 5549 ft, Min elev: 5388 ft, Elevation gain: 797 ft.
View Waterton Canyon Hike 7/16/2012 in a larger map
That’s not to say I didn’t still enjoy it or that I won’t go back and take pictures (hopefully of big horn sheep that are said to frequent the canyon sides). I think I’ll go earlier in the day though when its cooler and do it at a much brisker pace. Between the heat and my sister’s shorter stride and painful hips, we took it slower than I normally go. But Shannon’s awesome company more than made up for the slower pace or less engaging hiking terrain. What views we saw were pretty impressive though, as you get into the rock walled canyon pretty quickly and its a nice escape from the urban sprawl where we started at the canyon’s outlet.
We spotted several lizards (including a failed attempt at trying to herd one so we could get a good pose for the camera), swallows flying in and out of the cliffs, and butterflies. There were also a couple of fly fisherman in the river, and a lot of bicyclists, runners and hikers, as well as some school groups in the earlier parts of the trail. Needless to say it is a pretty popular place, seeing as how this was a Monday during working hours..