A couple of days ago I went mountain biking at the Royal Gorge area with Dave. We didn’t get very far. So I decided to explore the area on foot. I heard there’s some epic scenery about seven miles in, so I decided to head up early in the morning to try to find it.
I arrived pretty early in the morning, there was no one else at the trailhead when I got there.
I loaded up my gps with the area topo maps and a GPX route file I found online.
My target was the North Fork American River and the Heath Springs Overlook, which were both about seven miles in.
A fork in the road. We missed this on Saturday, going left instead of right. The sign was so small, it was really easy to miss while on the bike.
On Saturday we were on the wrong side of the lake. You can sort of make out the trail that we were riding on the far shore of the lake. The correct trail takes us high above the lake.
The correct trail is much more ride-able. There were lots of nice sections of singletrack. I wish I had my bike with me.
There were big rocky sections, but it was still pretty ride-able, and there were cairn stones to mark the trail whenever it wasn’t obvious.
I was glad to have the gps. The trail wasn’t very distinct in the forested sections.
About five miles in the trail gets really rocky.
The bridge over Palisade creek at 5.5 miles in. For some reason the GPX route file I had got cutoff here.
I took a short break underneath the bridge to filter some water and grab a bite to eat. All I had was a couple of granola bars and a couple of bottles of water, but after hiking nonstop for several hours they tasted so good. I think that’s part of the reason why I like being outdoors so much– it helps you to appreciate the simple pleasures.
After my short break I continued on toward Heath Falls. Unfortunately my GPX route file stopped just before the bridge, so I didn’t have any real guidance. I just continued on the trail, thinking it would lead me to the waterfall. The trail that I was on abruptly ended back at Palisade Creek. Since I had the topo maps loaded on my GPS, I could see that I was pretty close to the American River which Heath Falls runs over, and at times I thought I could hear the waterfall, but I couldn’t find a way to get there, the terrain was just too steep and rocky. So I decided to head back home.
On the one hand I had hiked over a dozen miles without reaching my destination. On the other hand, I had a good time hiking and got a few nice pictures. And anyways, I need to train for an upcoming big hike, so the day wasn’t a total bust. And it was kinda nice being alone going at my own pace.
I really do want to see the waterfall though, I heard it’s pretty nice. I looked online for some pictures of it and found this–these guys are crazy! http://www.kayakdiaries.com/2011/07/31/royal-gorge-epic-trip/
Things I’m thankful for:
- Nice long hikes through nice scenery (even though I didn’t make it to the waterfall the scenery was nice in general)
- Continued good health– being able to walk a dozen miles without too much trouble is a blessing that I often take for granted
- Simple pleasures– cold water and granola bars during a hike; nice hot shower and warm bed after the hike