Due to all of our recent snow, Sandy and I loaded up the packs and headed down to Lakewood, CO where we hiked into the William F Hayden Park on Green Mountain.
The park encompasses an entire grassy mountain, all 2,400 acres of it. It was used as a Buffalo Ranch for many years and still has some of the original corrals and loading chutes. In 1972 the Hayden family donated it to the City of Lakewood (the community west of Denver) and it has been developed as a mecca for hikers, runners and mountain bike enthusiasts.
The weather was great, the low 60’s and partly cloudy, which was nice compared to what we have been used to lately. Metro Denver has had the highest level of precipitation ever for the month of April and we still have additional storms in the forecast. Still, there was quite a bit of unmelted snow and lots of sticky clay on Green Mountain’s vast trail network. Our boots and poles quickly became caked in mud but we absolutely did not let that deter us.
We started out from the main trailhead at 6,090 feet elevation and climbed steadily all the way up the Green Mountain Trail to the summit at 6,800 feet. We then walked to the far western side where we stopped for a nice view of the Golden, CO area. It was on the west side of the mountain where we found some nice sized rocks to sit for lunch.
After a few minutes of eating and resting we were back on the trail. We had two options for the trail back, the quick way – about 1.5 miles, or the, “extremely long way” as one hiker explained it to us. Of course, we chose the “extremely long way”. The Rooney Trail back to the parking lot was a lot of elevation losses, then elevation gains – you know, the hiking that can drive you a bit crazy. But I have to admit, it was great training for what we expect along the beginning of the Camino. Up and down, very muddy and snow packed. The long hike downhill caused our old knees to ache but we were distracted by the singing of songbirds and the beautiful cactus in bloom.
The overall numbers for the day were as follows: Pack weight was 22 pounds. Total distance covered was 5.56 miles. Total time on the trail was 3:01 hours.