A few weeks ago we went on a last minute camping trip/ hike in Nederland. We love Nederland for those last minute camping trips because it is so close to Denver yet you are surrounded by beautiful views and get out of the city.
Something to keep in mind when camping in Colorado, and that always catches us by surprise, are the fire bans. We often forget to even check online or call to see if there is one happening the weekend we are heading to the mountains. When camping, a fire is a must for us. We cook our food, roast our mallows and its our main source of light at night. Well, we were already up there when we found out, so instead of cooking over an open fire, we decided to just grab some pizza from a little bar in Ned for dinner and in the morning had donuts and coffee at our favorite place-The Train Car Coffee Shop. If you have never had these little homemade fried donuts- add it to the list of things to try here in CO! Plus, kids love it because the coffee shop is a couple old train cars pushed together ! We often go up to Nederland to ride the Carasoul of Happiness and snack on those donuts. (If you have never taken the kids to ride on this beautiful old handmade carasoul, you must !! I take out of state visitors here every time because the history of this beauty is just fascinating)
After having our delicious breakfast we headed up County Road 126 to Caribou Ranch Open Space. This place is beautiful! Fields of wildflowers, rolling hills, mountain view…and the old farm is really cool to check out.
We heard about Caribou Ranch from one of Nate’s old coworkers that would talk about her time spent working at the Recording Studio that was there! In 1971 a barn was converted to a recording studio near this open space. This studio, called Caribou Ranch, attracted artists such as Billy Joel, Chicago, Elton John, Rod Stewart, and many others. (The studio closed after a fire destroyed the control room in 1985).
It was HOT. Really hot. We ran out of water on the way back and did not apply nearly enough sunscreen. There is not much shade if you stick to the trail!
We wandered off the trail just a bit to play in the flowers of course.
I called this a “hike” but it is really more a long walk. The beginning has some uneven terrain but that is where the shade is. It is very kid-friendly and there are actually many parts of the trail that would be fine to use a jogging stroller on!
When you get to the homestead there are picnic tables and shade. We were starving and had not brought lunch with… amateur move right there, for sure!
Liam got pretty tired on the walk back as he was hungry, hot and it was nap time… so Nathan improvised and Liam rode in between Nate and his backpack! Probably not the safest idea… but he loved it.
A couple things you should know:
- The only bathrooms we saw were at the trailhead so make sure you go before you start your hike!
- This park is FREE!
- There is limited parking and park closes at sunset
- For a printable trail map of this park click here.
- It was about 1 1/2 miles from the parking lot to the homestead. So just under 3 miles round trip. You can make it a longer hike by going around the Blue Bird Loop, which adds another 1.8 miles.
- Grab a free “Nature Detectives Club” brochure from the trailhead for the kids ! It’s suitable for kiddos ages 4-11 and there are some really fun activities in there. (Make sure to bring a pencil!) It teaches kids about different types of trees, wildflowers, wildlife and has a simple kid-friendly map on the back too. Liam loved reading the map and telling us where to go!
Let me know if you ever check out Caribou Ranch Open Space or if you want to share your favorite hiking trails here in CO!
DON’T MISS A THING! I have MANY more hiking trails I am sharing this summer and great places to camp around Colorado! Make sure you subscribe to my blog to be the first to read my posts !
Have a beautiful day!
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