Bright Trail to North St. Vrain Creek, then Taylor and Big John Mountains, 05/24/2008

Bright Trail Trailhead sign, 05/24/08

Bright Trail Trailhead sign, 05/24/08

Chipmunk off Bright Trail, 05/24/08

Chipmunk off Bright Trail, 05/24/08

North Saint Vrain Canyon from rock overlook, 05/24/08

North Saint Vrain Canyon from rock overlook, 05/24/08

You can see the GPS tracks for this entire hike.

From Lyons, we headed up CO 7 then turned right, after Bunce School Road and before Ferncliff, onto Taylor Road. We drove up this road about a mile to where Forest Road 330 starts. The gate was open, so we could have driven the 1 mile to the trailhead of the Bright Trail, but the road is rough, so we parked there (elev 8396').

We started hiking up FR 330 at 9:56, and soon reached the high point (elev 8726'), where the descent down the North Saint Vrain Canyon begins, with the odometer showing 0.88 miles. This is the saddle between Taylor Mtn and Point 8842.

Getting to the trailhead of the Bright Trail at 10:20, our odometer showed 1.00 miles. There is a developed parking area here for those who want to drive this far. There is also a trailhead sign with a map and info.

Hiking down the Bright Trail, a view of South Sheep and North Sheep Mountains soon appears. There were lots of flowering currant bushes off the trail. Taylor Mtn and Big John Mtn could also be seen. The trail soon began its steep descent of 1350 ft down the canyon to the North Saint Vrain Creek. Just as in the Grand Canyon, it got warmer as we descended.

We reached the creek at 11:23, where the odometer showed 2.85 miles. This is the end of the Bright Trail. The other side of the creek is the start of the Bright Extension Trail, where we were exactly 1 week ago. But there is no bridge.

We explored the bank of the creek in both directions for a short distance. To the west is a beautiful meadow, which is apparently a popular place to camp, since there were three campsites in close proximity.

We started hiking back out at 11:49, with the odometer showing 3.06 miles. Hiking back to the previous high point, which is a forest road intersection, we turned left onto FR 330B, and hiked to its end. Where FR 330B ends, an unofficial trail begins. We followed this trail as it passes to the north of Taylor Mtn summit, and heads toward Big John Mountain. This trail soon fades out, with only rock cairns remaining.

We reached the saddle between Taylor and Big John at 13:40, with the odometer showing 6.88 miles. Continuing on to Big John, we reached its summit at 13:53, with the odometer at 7.28 miles.

The summit of Big John has no views, being surrounded by trees, but there are great views a couple hundred feet to the south, including Taylor Mtn, the Ironclads, and Mt Meeker. The summit register which we deposited on May 14 2005, took almost a year before it got its next signing on April 2006 by John Prater. But there were several entries from just 3 days ago.

We had lunch near the summit of Big John, before heading back to the Taylor-Big John saddle, then up to Taylor. We reached the summit of Taylor Mtn at 15:19, with the odometer showing 8.72 miles. This summit doesn't have nice views, being also surrounded by trees. We built up the summit cairn a little, before beginning our return.

We returned to our parking place at 16:15, with the odometer showing 10.7 miles. The total trip time was 6 hours, 19 minutes. The total elevation gain was approximately 2450 feet.

- Richard Hollos and Stefan Hollos

GPS data
Place nameElev [ft]Accuracy [ft]Lat/Lon
Parking at start of FR 33083961640.19323,-105.48418
High point before descending87261740.20355,-105.47672
Int of N St Vrain Creek and Bright Trail73714040.21580,-105.45714
Saddle btw Taylor and Big John Mtns88201440.19751,-105.46048
Big John Mtn summit91272040.19613,-105.45665
Taylor Mtn summit91831840.19588,-105.46797