September 8 to 16, 2018

Status FULL
Cost $1380 (shared room, shared bath)
$1580 (single room, shared bath)
$1680 (shared room, private bath)
$1880 (sing room, private
Travel Dates September 8-16, 2018

Explore the back side of Colorado’s famous Front Range, from Berthoud Pass to Rocky Mountain National Park.  The area features peaks over 13,000 feet, mountain lakes, wildflowers, and wildlife including antelope, elk, moose, big horn sheep, and deer.  The trip is based out of the environmentally friendly Devil’s Thumb Ranch Resort and Spa just north of Winter Park.  The area includes the Continental Divide Trail, the Kawuneeche Valley on the Colorado River near its headwaters, the Never Summer Mountains, and the Arapaho National Forest.

Hiking will be moderate to strenuous, with round trip distances of 6 to 11 miles and climbs of up to 2,100 feet to elevations over 12,000 feet. Less strenuous options will be also be available. The real challenge will be the altitude above sea level for us low-country hikers. To enjoy these hikes and keep up with the group you must be an experienced hiker in good condition. The itinerary is set up to provide an opportunity for us to acclimatize, with the relatively easier hikes at the beginning and the more strenuous at the end.

Devil’s Thumb Ranch  Devil’s Thumb Ranch dates back to 1937, when it began as a working ranch.  It was later both a working ranch and dude ranch.  Current owners Bob and Suzanne Fanch have updated the ranch in accord with their vision of create a special place where visitors will have a truly Colorado experience celebrating the rustic spirit of the West.

The ranch sits on 6000 acres of flowering meadows and lush woodlands, with a significant trail network on site.  The ranch owners and management have made a commitment to sustainability.  Efforts include geothermal heat, photovoltaic panels feeding dc microgrids, sustainable local foods and organic meats.  The ranch has been recognized with a Mountain Living Magazine award for sustainable building practices, and an EPA award for Environmentally Sensitive Remodeling and Expansion.

Our stay at Devil’s Thumb Ranch will include Wi-Fi and access to ranch amenities including the pool, hot tub, sauna, steam room, fitness center, theater, game room as well as hiking trails on the ranch’s 6000 acres.  The ranch also offers horseback riding, zip line tours, mountain biking and guided fly fishing at an additional cost.

Our group will be staying at the Bunkhouse, a bit over a mile from main ranch buildings.  We have reserved the entire Bunkhouse for our group.  The Bunkhouse has four types of guestroom, with the largest number being single rooms with private baths.  These rooms are offered for a range of costs as listed in the table below.  The various room options are offered on a first come, first serve basis.  When reserving the trip, state your preference for Room Type.  The trip leader will then confirm the availability of that room type, or will communicate the remaining open room types that are available for your selection.

The Bunkhouse has a full kitchen and dining area on the ground floor, and we will be preparing and eating our meals there.  We will prepare our own breakfasts and trail lunches from a shopping list we draw up.  For each of the 5 dinners at the ranch, we’ll look for 2 volunteers to set the menu and prepare each meal, and two others for clean-up duty.  Typically, others will be around to help should the need arise.  For the 6th evening at the ranch, we will dine at Heck’s Tavern in the main lodge.  Heck’s is modeled on the Timberline Lodge at Mt. Hood, and offers scenic view of Devil’s Thumb and the surrounding peaks.

The Bunkhouse has common areas on both the first and second floor.  Quiet hours will be observed from 10pm to 6am on these two floors.  The spacious kitchen and dining area are on the ground floor, and can be used for quiet gatherings during quiet hours.

Ground Transportation  Our plan is to rent 4 midsize or compact cars for group transportation.  We will look for 4 volunteer drivers from among our group.  This arrangement will provide maximum flexibility for groups going to the main ranch, into town for groceries, etc.  It will also give us flexible options for our scheduled free day, and have the maneuverability that can be lacking in larger vans.

Arrival and Departure  Plan to arrive at and leave from the Denver airport.

  • 6 nights at Devil’s Thumb Ranch with resort privileges including outdoor pool with indoor access, outdoor hot tub, dry sauna, spa, steam room, fitness center, library, game room and theater
  • Gratuities at the ranch
  • All meals prepared at the Bunkhouse
  • 1 dinner at the Heck’s Tavern
  • First and last night lodging near Denver airport (with complimentary breakfast)
  • Trail lunch on Day 2
  • Ground transportation between Denver and the ranch, and from ranch to trail heads, and between airport and first and last night’s hotel
Not Included
  • Airfare to Denver International Airport
  • Day 1 dinner
  • Day 8 dinner
  • Beverages
  • At the ranch, optional activities available for an additional fee include stables, spa, zip line and fly fishing.
Payment Policy A Deposit of $ 600 is due with the Application forms to register for the trip.

Must have 15 registered by March 1, 2018 for the trip to go.
The Balance of the payment is due no later than May 15, 2018.

Cancellation Policy
  • If registrant cancels prior to March 1, 2018 all payments received by ADK minus $100.00 will be refunded.
  • After March 1, 2018, refund will only be made if the vacancy can be filled from a waiting list maintained by the leader, if any, and then all but $100.00 will be refunded.
  • Note that there is a $100 registration fee included in the trip deposit which is not refundable if you have to cancel for any reason whatsoever.
  • If the leader decides that this trip is not for you, or the trip is canceled by ADK, all payments received by ADK will be refunded.
  • Devil’s Thumb Ranch has reserved the right to ask for us to commit to the event before March 1, 2018 if they receive a competing request to reserve the space, so early registration is encouraged.
What to Bring Be prepared for early autumn hiking conditions at high elevations.  Avoid cotton while hiking, dress in layers, and be prepared for sudden weather changes.  Plan to carry liquids in your pack, and allow for additional water due to the high elevation and low humidity.   Be prepared for significant sun exposure at high elevation on several hikes.  Further details will be provided to participants prior to the trip.
Trip Insurance It is very strongly recommended that all participants have trip or travel insurance that will cover trip cancellation by the participant, travel delays, medical expenses and medical evacuation. ADK does not provide this insurance and does not cover medical expenses or evacuation in the event you are injured or become ill during the trip. Note that if you have to cancel after the date indicated above, and cannot be replaced from the leader’s waiting list, if any, you could be out the entire amount you paid for the trip.



Daily Itinerary

Day 1: Saturday, September 9

Arrive and meet at Denver airport, spend night near Denver airport. Meals on your own. Introductions and orientation meeting after dinner. (Overnight in motel is included)
Optional activity for those whose arrival time permits: Visit to Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge Day 1.

Day 2: Sunday, September 10

Travel to Devil’s Thumb Ranch. Hike Jim Creek Trail in Winter Park en route, and stop for groceries in Fraser before checking into the Ranch.  The Jim Creek Trail begins at the Bonfils Station Outdoor Center in Winter Park.  The first two miles winds through a pine forest with stands of wildflowers. The trail fades into the marsh, then by a boulder field. There are several waterfalls in this area as the canyon narrows. Follow the creek, staying right of the creek wherever possible. This is a good acclimatizing hike, the full hike is 5.8 miles round trip with a 1000 foot vertical rise.  Arrive at ranch in time for dinner.  (All meals included).

Day 3: Monday, September 11

North Inlet Trail to Cascade Falls and Big Pool.  Cascade Falls is 3.4 miles up the relatively flat North Inlet Trail, passing through an open meadow with a marmot community, and lodgepole pine forest.  The scenic falls pass over a series of granite steps while heading down the valley.  Big Pool is another 1.2 miles up the trail, is a natural basin in the creek, at the base of a small falls.   The North Inlet Trailhead is at 8500’ elevation, and the hike is 9.6 miles round trip with a 420’ vertical rise.

Day 4: Tuesday, September 12

Lulu City/Little Yellowstone.  This hike follows the Colorado River up the Kawuneeche Valley, passing by log cabin remains, tailings from the Shippler mine and then a flowered field remain from Lulu City, a former mine town.  It then heads into the Little Yellowstone Valley, carved into yellow and white volcanic rock dating back millions of years.  The Colorado River Trailhead is at 9040’ elevation.  The hike is 10.4 miles round trip with a 1000’ elevation gain.

Day 5: Wednesday, September 13

Free day. Enjoy a range of opportunities ranging from a relaxing day at the ranch to the challenging hike up to Devil’s Thumb in the Indian Peaks Wilderness Area (where there is a group size limit of 12). We plan to organize several small group outings for those interested. Horseback riding, fishing, zip line are available for extra cost at the ranch.

Day 6: Thursday, September 14

Timber Lake.  Timber Lake is a scenic lake perched at the treeline at the foot of Mt. Ida and the Continental Divide Trail.  The trail itself is forested and passes through areas where moose and elk have been spotted.  A landslide occurred two miles in from the trailhead—there is an off trail section above the landslide as a result.  The Timber Lake Trailhead is at 9060’ elevation.  The hike is 8.8 miles round trip, with a 2000’ elevation gain.

Day 7: Friday, September 15

Stanley Mountain is west of Berthoud pass on the Continental Divide Trail.  The trail rises rapidly from the pass, clearing the treeline and reaching the base of a steep wall.  A set of switchbacks brings you up to the open tundra, where the trail levels along the continental divide, with a sharp drop to the east and a more gradual falloff to the west.  The trail follows the edge of the Vasquez Wilderness at 1.85 miles,12,370 feet.  Stanley Mountain has an elevation of 12, 521 feet, just a small rise above the ridge at 3.5 miles from the trailhead—the adventure lies in getting there. 7 miles round trip, 1200’ elevation gain.  Also, we will leave the Bunkhouse Friday morning, and then check into Devil’s Thumb Ranch’s Trailhead Inn in Winter Park for the night of the 15th.

Day 8: Saturday, September 16

Breakfast at the ranch, pack a lunch, check out and then drive Rocky Mountain National Park’s Trail Ridge Road on the way back to Denver.  Trail Ridge Road winds 48 miles through RMNP, with eleven miles above the tree line.  We will choose from short hikes such as Forest Pass Trail, Ute Trail and Marmot Point Trail— or we’ll just enjoy the great view along the road. Late afternoon check-in to our hotel near the airport, with dinner on your own.

Day 9: Sunday, September 17

Depart for home.  Breakfast at motel included.  Group transportation to airport provided.

Registration Procedure Please carefully read the above detailed trip description and itinerary, and contact me if you have any questions. Then, if you decide to join this adventure, please contact me (email, phone or snail mail) and I will send you the registration paperwork, consisting of the Registration form, the Health and Physical Condition Questionnaire and Release of Liability form. Complete these forms and send them to me by U.S. Postal Service with the deposit (check payable to “ADK” or the Credit Card Authorization) to reserve a spot. Please note that original signatures are required on all forms. Spaces are reserved in the order that complete and acceptable registration forms and deposit payments are received, so don’t delay.
Trip Leader Tom Ortmeyer
15 Lawrence Ave. Potsdam, NY 13676
(315) 244-3707