Monday, August 22, 2016

Trails head to historical RMNP sights

McGraw Ranch barn, built in 1884, and corral fence. NPS photo.
From mining to cattle ranching, Rocky Mountain National Park enjoys a fascinating history, some of which is preserved via buildings, ruins and trails. A good sampling of those historic areas include:
McGraw Ranch – The working cattle ranch operated near Estes Park from 1884 to 1948. Many structures, including the barn and corral from 1884, still stand. It can be reached via the Cow Creek Trailhead in a 0.33-miles walk.
Utility Area Historic District – Buildings in this area reflect the national parks' rustic design popular when they were built in the 1920s and 1930s. Some were constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps. The area is off of the Park Entrance Road west of Marys Lake Road.
Ute Trail – Arapaho and Ute Indians for centuries crossed Trail Ridge as one of their routes to reach their summer hunting grounds on the Great Plains. This area off of U.S. Hwy. 34 is alpine tundra.
Lulu City – The ruins of an 19th century mining town can be seen on the 6.2-miles round trip Colorado River Trail. The town was created when silver was discovered there in 1879.
Holzwarth Trail – A historic ranch started by a German immigrant in the 1910s is preserved on the park’s west side in the Kawuneeche Valley. It can be reached by hiking unpaved Ditch Road, which crosses the Colorado River and ends at the historic site.
Gaskill Cemetery – About all that remains of the 1880s mining town of Gaskill is its cemetery. It can be reached via Bowen Trail, a sand road, which crosses the Colorado then heads south to Gaskill Cemetery in Bowen Gulch on a 6-miles round trip hike.

Learn more about the park's day hiking trails in my Best Sights to See at Rocky Mountain National Park guidebook.