It continues to be gorgeous weather here in the Front Range and so we decided to go hiking with Will and Moses in the Foothills on Saturday, November 12th. We had heard of a little park called Lair o’ the Bear Park near Morrison in Jefferson County and began to drive that way. The drive was scenic and short compared to most of our hikes; and we arrived at Lair o’ the Bear Park in the early afternoon. Parking was close to full, but there were spots left. We hopped out and began to explore the trailhead and our options.
The options at this park are numerous, and so we came back again on Friday, November 24th. As crazy as it seems, the trails were still relatively clear of snow even as we get close to December. Our first time out we walked on the Bear Creek Trail, which runs along Bear Creek, until we hit a bridge that led us to the Bruin Bluff Trail. The Bruin Bluff Trail loops around the park and gives some pleasant views from the hills to the south of the park. As we looped back around, we met back up with the Bear Creek Trail and followed the trail back to the parking lot. On our next adventure, we opted to visit a castle we had read about which is located about a mile out on the Bear Creek Trail. We hiked approximately one mile to Dunafon Castle and then kept going another half a mile to Corwina Park. This was an out-and-back. Both hikes were around 3 miles, and below are details and pictures from our adventures.
There are quite a few trails leading off from Bear Creek Trail, almost all of them go to the water. One very interesting trail we explored had an arch made of plants that led down to a beach. The Creekside Trail does run along the creek as well, and is a nice short diversion from the other trails. However, there are many other unnamed trails to explore. Just be careful, since erosion can be a problem and damaging the wildlife isn’t anyone’s goal.
Also, the park had a sign that mentioned a problem with New Zealand Mud Snails. The sign warned anglers on how to sanitize their boots and clothing if they go in the water. Because of this, it would probably be a good idea to head this warning signs if you do travel down into the water. The snails themselves are tiny, only about 4-6 mm in length on average, and cause problems for the ecosystem.
To the left you can see Will standing under the arch on our way to explore the beach. After the beach we continued on and found a little deck that was a nice resting spot for Moses and also had some interesting information on the creek. Being so close to the Continental Divide, we sometimes take it for granted, but by definition, all the water on the east side of the divide flows into the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean. The creek here flows for 15 miles to the South Platte River, which flows for 650 miles until it merges with the Missouri River on the Nebraska-Iowa border, and from there it flows another 2,500 miles to the Gulf of Mexico. Thinking about the journey the water was going to take that we were playing around in was quite humbling. Below are a few pictures from the end of the hike.
All things considered the park offers plenty of activities and diversions; from picnicking, to hiking, to mountain biking there is always something to do here. We’d recommend this for anyone wanting to get outside in a group with mixed abilities, as the trail is easy and almost anyone can do it. The options on distance are nice as well. Whether you want to take a long 12 mile hike or a short 1 mile jaunt along the creek, it’s all up to you. After your activity, we also recommend stopping in Morrison for some food and drinks. We particularly like the The Cow and they have a great happy hour. Cheers!