Escaping The Nutshell
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Parking at the closed Forest Service gate off Big Elk Road, we hiked a few yards past the gate to Johnny Park Road, then turned right onto it.
After about 2.2 miles on the road, we turned left onto the unmarked North Sheep Mtn Trail. The trail starts out gently through relatively flat forest, then descends steeply, with severe erosion, much of it from the flood of September 2013.
Further down the trail, the flood damage becomes extreme and the trail vanishes among flood strewn boulders, dirt and dead trees. We slowly made our way through the altered landscape where the trail used to be, down to North St Vrain Creek.
Because the way we came was so rough, we decided to return by ascending the ridge on the west side of the gulch, then head north along the ridge.
Ascending to the top of the ridge turned out to be a very steep climb of about 1300 feet. We followed the ridge north to the Bright Extension Trail, then took the trail back to Johnny Park Road, closing the loop by hiking northeast along the road.
This hike took about 6 hours, total distance traveled was 9.5 miles, and total altitude gain was about 2100 feet.
|Place Name||Elev [ft]||Accuracy [ft]||Position (lat,lon)|
|Parking below Coulson Gulch Trailhead||7640||20||40.25072,-105.41091|
© 2012-2016 Stefan Hollos and Richard Hollos
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