Trail Exploration: Mitchell Creek Trail
For the final installment of the eight-week trail exploration series, the plan was to check out Hanging Lake Trail. To my editor and me, the trail was the quintessential hike to serve as the finale for the series.
I booked my reservation last week for the afternoon of Aug. 5 and was excited to go check out a bucket list spot. However, Mother Nature had other plans, as late last week into last weekend the area saw several flash-flood storms that caused massive mudslides resulting in the Hanging Lake Trail and Interstate 70 being closed for the foreseeable future.
Which brings us to how Mitchell Creek Trail in West Glenwood became the subject of the final trail exploration article. Mitchell Creek Trail can be accessed from the Glenwood Springs Fish Hatchery, where there are designated parking spots for those hiking the trail.
The access to the trail starts off as a steady uphill paved road that provides access to local homeowners and the Mitchell Creek Bed and Breakfast. After about a half mile of walking, the trail splits off to the left and takes you up into wilder country.
I was warned beforehand that the trail tends to be covered in dense foliage, so it came as no surprise to have to use my hands to push limbs and branches out of my way as I hiked farther uphill. For me, this was part of the fun of the hike. It felt like I was truly hiking in a piece of Colorado’s vast wilderness.
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The trail takes you pretty far up the hillside in a relatively short distance. It isn’t long before you are standing on a field of rocks observing the mountains on the horizon and taking in the lush green hillsides.
Aside from being dense with foliage, the trail is relatively free of spots where one may turn an ankle. There are a few rocky sections, but the rocks hold firm and allow one to swiftly maneuver around them.
About 30 minutes into hiking I quickly lost the trail. There is a little creek that was fun to cross, as one has to hop across using some rocks and then walk over a log. But after going over the log I was faced with a wall of fallen trees and brush. I looked and tried to find a sign of the trail from there, but it was hard to discern where the trail went and if I could get there.
According to the map, the trail continues deeper into the White River National Forest; however, it may just require more extreme bush-waking than actual hiking, as the trail is only occasionally maintained.
The Mitchell Creek Trail is still a trail I would take my family on if they visited as it still had some magnificent views. Add the hike with some time spent feeding the fish and checking out the fish hatchery and you have enough activity to fill most of an afternoon.
Start of the wooded section of the trail. | Cody Jones/Post Independent
How to get there: From downtown Glenwood, head north on Grand Avenue and then merge on U.S. Highway 6. Head West on U.S. Highway 6 until you get to Mitchell Creek Road, where you will turn right. Keep on Mitchell Creek Road for a little over a mile until you come to the Glenwood Springs Fish Hatchery parking lot.
Length: 6.6 miles out and back, 3 miles out and back if you turn around when the trail gets more wooded.
Highlights: Views of mountains and surrounding hillsides, hiking through dense foliage
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Addie apparently wanted to stake her own claim on the downhill, and Charleston seemed to have his own opinions about this particular runner’s pace.