Our Boulder Dodging, Altitude Climbing, Waterfall Spotting HIKE

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I’ve never been what you’d call super “athletic”.

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Sure, I run 4+ miles several times a week, and can bust out some modified pushups with the best of ‘em, but if my short, 1 year softball career as a 10 year old which ended with me barfing up mambas outside of the dugout after striking out for the nth time, or my awesome ability to just hang from the pull up bar in gym class tells you anything, my calling is more in the kitchen than the athletic field.

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That said, one of the things I really wanted to do on this trip to Colorado was go on an epic mountain hike. Like, not a sweet, wood chip-lined path hike, but a boulder dodging, altitude climbing, waterfall spotting HIKE.

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So we did. :)

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Thursday morning Ben and I got up bright and early, and headed back to Boulder Canyon Boulevard. We drove through the town of Nederland, then Eldora (population: 250 – seriously remote, log-cabin, mountain “town”!) until the paved road stopped, and the dirt road began.

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4 miles and 40 minutes of rocks, dirt, and OMG DOES THIS ROAD EVER END later, we arrived at the 4th of July Trailhead, where we were to start our hike! At this point I was nervous. Nervous, nervous. I had no idea what to expect as far a what the trail would be like, and how hard it was going to be.

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Once I saw the sign that showed the Diamond Lake trail we were going to take was 2 miles each way though, I thought, psssht, I totally got this!

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And so we started our ascent into the mountains!

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I quickly came to find that the 2 mile hike to Diamond Lake on the top of a mountain was going to be anything but a walk in the park.

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The path went from wide to narrow, and back. Smooth, to rocky, then wet.

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It was an ADVENTURE!

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And the views just killed me. Here’s a gorgeous waterfall that we could hear from an entire mountain over.

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And here’s a picture to show you how high we were! Can you spot the cars parked below? :)

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Ben actually hiked this trail with my Dad and brother last summer, and camped out at a spot dubbed “Epic Spot” a short distance away from this wily tree about halfway into the hike that he wanted to show me.

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Just after passing it, we veered off onto a barely recognizable path, which opened up into a big clearing about 10 minutes later. It’s crazy that there was snow all over this area when they were here at the same time last summer!

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We were only there a few minutes when a local and his dogs emerged from the same unbeaten path. He owns 80 acres of land just outside the trailhead and was quite surprised to see us there. Apparently not many people know about this place!

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The area used to be a miners camp way back when, and after exchanging pleasantries we sat next to this abandoned log shack and fueled up for the rest of the hike.

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Cliff Bars seemed appropriate. :)

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A few more breathtaking views later, we got back on the main trail and continued on towards our final destination – Diamond Lake.

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The second part of the hike was a bit more challenging, as the last half mile or so is pretty vertical.

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We passed other hikers coming down though who encouraged us to keep going, and that the lake was worth the hike, so we pressed on.

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After clearing the forest, we emerged into a gorgeous field of wild flowers. Just beyond it was…

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Diamond Lake!!

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A crystal clear, ice-cold lake with fish jumping in and out of the water, surrounded by trees at the top of a mountain. (Click the picture to see a panoramic!)

I sort of felt like I was in a Disney movie!

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The nearly 2 hour hike was completely worth it, so we stayed awhile to rest and snack on some Mango Nectarines while taking in the view.

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Then it was time to turn around and go back!

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I actually think I prefer climbing UP, rather than coming down. It’s a lot more slippy, and you really have to watch where you are going.

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By the end we were practically kissing our car in the parking lot, but could not have been more happy with how the hike went. I sort of felt very accomplished about completing my first ever legit mountain hike!

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Or more hungry. :)

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40 minutes down the crazy dirt road that had taken us to the trailhead, and back through the barely a blip on the radar town of Eldora, we arrived in Nederland and headed straight to Backcountry Pizza where I devoured 2 massive slices of some of the best pizza I’ve ever had.

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Exhausted and slightly deranged looking, but happy!!

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Yesterday we drove down to Breckenridge where we’re staying the weekend for a friend’s wedding. If the carb bar at last night’s rehearsal dinner is any indication – it’s going to be a good one! ;)

Have a great weekend, everyone!

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Comments

  1. Beth 07.14.2012

    Amazing photos–thanks for sharing them! Glad you enjoyed your hike. :)

  2. Amy M 07.14.2012

    Congrats on conquering that hike! I feel the need to go find some mountains now….how many miles from Adel to Colorado? :)

  3. Andrea 07.14.2012

    Your photos of the hike are amazing! Hiking is one of my absolute favorite things to do so the Diamond Lake Trail is now on my to-do list if (when) I can take a Colorado vacation. And that carb bar…WOW…yum! Enjoy the weekend! :)

  4. Those were some gorgeous views! Glad you enjoyed it.

  5. Teresa 07.14.2012

    Amazing! Good for you for getting out of your comfort zone. Love the photos! I can totally relate about your softball experience, by the way. My mom pulled me out of T-ball when I was in first grade because I too afraid that I would get hit by a ball!

  6. Such lovely photos! Looks like an inspiring place to enjoy a good workout. Exercising is much more fun when you enjoy it.

  7. steph 07.14.2012

    I go to CO every year and am always amazed at the effects of the altitude. I eat constantly but always come back having lost weight:-) On a side note, I found out I was pregnant one year. Altitude sickness and early pregnancy have similar symptoms…crazy!

  8. morgan 07.14.2012

    What a fabulous hike! Looks like a must-do if (when!) we ever get back to Colorado. Last time we were there we did some intense hiking in Estes…thought I might never make it back to the car after one of them — the way back was deceptively inclined. Happy travels!

  9. Charli Bryan 07.14.2012

    This hike looks awesome! I’m in Denver for the summer and this trail just got added to my Colorado bucket list! Thanks for posting!!!

  10. Amanda 07.14.2012

    That hike looks amazing! My husband used to live out there and highly recommends Beau Jo’s Pizza in Idaho Springs if you happen to be looking for some more tasty pizza :)

  11. Kristin 07.14.2012

    How gorgeous! Out of curiousity how was the trail marked? I’ve been on hikes where there are plastic markers leading the way – spray painted trees – or plastic ties around the trees but always seems to take a wrong turn.

  12. Loren 07.14.2012

    Beautiful pictures and a beautiful state! Thanks for sharing your adventure..looks like you had a great time! :)

  13. lisa 07.14.2012

    <3 to Backcountry Pizza! Always eat there when we rent our cabin in Nederland!
    Also, you can get seriously good trail maps at McGuckin Hardware in Boulder. McGuckins is a trip all in and of itself!

  14. Jenny 07.14.2012

    I love this post. What a great hike. Love the Iowa shirt. Go hawks! Are those black and gold tennis shoes?

  15. Jen 07.14.2012

    Congrats on first hike ! ! sure you can now see and understand nothing is more beautiful then actually hiking to a lake. You know that not many people been there and its just so peaceful. Use to hike as a kid with my dad seen some beautiful country that way now I’m kinda of spooked to do it. You just don’t know who you going to run into back in those woods.

  16. Tina 07.15.2012

    Wow your photos are breathtaking! Makes me want to visit CO! Also lovin the Miami gear your husbands been wearing lately in the blogs. Go Canes!

  17. Absolutely BEAUTIFUL! I love mountain hiking and this place looks like a dream to me. You made me want to visit Colorado.

  18. Rebekah 07.15.2012

    Welcome to Colorado!! I’m so glad you’ve enjoyed your time in the mountains :) You should definitely come back in the winter and play in the mountains again. The whole state is like a playground!

  19. Joan V 07.15.2012

    Oh, my, this is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing your hike and all of the beautiful scenery. You are an inspiration to make me want to get out there and do this hike.

  20. rt 07.15.2012

    absolutely love your blog…just stumbled upon it…love your spirit love your energy, I am planning to try some of your recipes I am always looking for eaasy quick recipes and I loved your collection Thanks God bless you

  21. Trisha 07.15.2012

    Seriously awesome.

  22. Joanna 07.15.2012

    Looks awesome! I have been wanting a good hike lately too but I live in Omaha and Council Bluffs is about all we have :) Maybe Colorado would be my best bet! Pizza looked amazing!

  23. Rachel 07.16.2012

    Congrats on the hike! I completed my first more difficult hike this week too (Flattop in Anchorage, AK). I totally agree with you on the going down.. I was terrified and definitely did most of it on my bottom and my hands.

  24. That hike looks beautiful! I wish we had places like that here in the UK to hike!

  25. Gorgeous photos! What kind of camera / lens did you use? Surely it wasn’t just your phone!

  26. jesser 07.16.2012

    Congrats on your first hike!! This is such a great trail – I haven’t been there since college or high school and I’d almost forgotten about it! I always love a hike that brings you to something cool, be it a waterfall or lake or the one we did this weekend- natural waterslides! That was a first. Glad you’re enjoying CO so much. Cheers!

  27. Teresa K. 07.16.2012

    oh my you could make post cards – or puzzles out of those pics – what a beautiful hike!

  28. Allison 07.16.2012

    I got engaged while hiking in Colorado. There is no place I would rather be than on a mountain in Colorado.

    Carb bar, seriously?! Love it.

  29. Lauren T 07.16.2012

    What a beautiful hike! I’ve been hiking in CO before, and even though the trek is hard it’s so worth it once you get to your destination!
    p.s. I made your black bean burger recipe this weekend, and LOVED it!!

  30. What pretty views!!! It looks like you had so much fun on your trip. Thanks for sharing it with us! :)

  31. That scenery looks incredible!

  32. Your photos are unbelievable!! So pretty :)

  33. OMG, a carb bar?! Looks amazing.

    And those views are incredible!!

  34. […] guess there was something about the crisp mountain air and healthy outdoor lifestyle we experienced in Colorado that had me craving light and fresh dishes throughout the trip. I figure […]

  35. Erica 07.17.2012

    Oh your pictures reminded me of when we lived in CO! We moved to Idaho Just three years ago, and I miss those mountains! We stayed in Breck one weekend in the winter, it is beautiful!

  36. […] thought the waterfalls on Ben’s and my hike in Colorado were loud…can you imagine sleeping with Iguassu Falls, in Iguassu National Park, outside your […]

  37. What kind of animals live in that area? Did you see any along the way? Looks like a beautiful hike.

  38. Iowa Girl Eats 07.24.2012

    We thankfully did not run into anything but birds. I’m not sure what else lives in the area though!

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