By Suzanne Webel
Sometimes I wondered if I’d EVER be writing those words as the title of a trail log….. but yes, it has finally happened. Caribou Ranch is open to the public, so go – enjoy!
… and, folks, it is a showcase of current public land management thinking with regard to trail siting, design and construction, trailhead parking facilities, interpretive material, and historic restoration. Although getting reasonable equestrian access to this property has taken us more than eight long years of constant vigilance, and we’re not completely there yet, I believe you will all agree the final result will have been worth every bit of the struggle. I’d like to take this opportunity to thank all the BCHA members who supported my efforts by attending endless meetings, by writing letters and emails to the County, and by generally cheering me on. And I’d like to thank both Ron Stewart and Jim Guercio for their willingness to negotiate the necessary additional access south from Caribou Ranch to Mud Lake; however we still need access north along the Switzerland Trail toward the Rainbow Lakes Road and the Sourdough Trail.
From Nederland, travel north on the Peak-to-Peak Highway (CO 72) about a mile to CR 126, a dirt road on the left. Proceed a short distance to another dirt road on the left that leads up to the horse trailer parking lot (P-1). From here, riding back down the access road and up CR 126 about a half mile to the car-only main trailhead will add the feeling of a loop. The Delonde Trail has been constructed from the trailhead through piney woods, rock outcroppings, and small meadows, and merges with the old Switzerland Trail railroad grade. After about a mile, the Bluebird Loop Trail takes you past hay meadows and beaver ponds, the old Delonde homestead, and the Bluebird Mine complex. At the mine the County has constructed a horse hitch rail for your convenience in exploring the area on foot since horses are not allowed. This makes a great lunch spot. After the loop rejoins the main trail, return to the car parking lot. Cross CR 126 and follow the new, well-signed Mud Lake trail back to your trailer.
Please remember: Only pedestrians and equestrians are allowed at Caribou Ranch. The entire property is closed to all visitors from April 1 through June 30 by order of the County Commissioners. All visitors are required to stay on trail.
BCHA is officially designated the keeper of the Delonde Trail from the Caribou Ranch trailhead to the homestead.
Total Distance: 4.2 miles round trip at Caribou; another .5 mile each way at Mud Lake, with future extensions discussed above
Total Time: Approx. 3 hours.
Jurisdiction: Boulder County Parks & Open Space
Maps: Excellent park map available at TH