Grouse Mountain Trailhead Loop

Today I decided to hike the Western part of Mueller State Park from the Grouse Mountain Trailhead down to Geer Pond and back in sort of a loop.  Total trail was 5.52 miles and took exactly 2 hours to hike.  I started the hike at 11:15am without a jacket.  I was a bit cold, but it looked like it would eventually warm up.  It did, but it took about half an hour.  It never got “hot”.

The beginning of the hike brought me to a very small (one room?) cabin.  It was most obviously dilapidated and overgrown with pine trees sprouting from the floor.  I questioned its odd placement and what it was used for, as it wasn’t near any obvious necessities (a road, water, etc.) and was located in the middle of a hill. 

Just as I rounded the corner from the structure I came upon some burn piles.  I thought how cool it was Mueller was doing some thinning, then realized the piles were over the boundary of Mueller.  That got me to wondering who owned the land…

At this point in the hike I started noticing a lot of markings on the trees.  Specifically the Aspen trees.  Most look like they’re from deer or elk, but a few showed similarities to Black Bear markings. 

By now it was finally starting to warm up a bit.  I was able to see the backside of Pikes Peak in the distance with a little bit of snow on the peak:

At this point I came upon some bike riders.  I heard them before I saw them, and was a bit upset as I was sure they were scaring all the wildlife away.  Why can’t people hike in silence and enjoy the sounds of nature? 

As I rounded the corner I heard what sounded like a weed-wacker.  I was pondering why someone would think such a device was necessary in the backcountry when I realized it was an insect.  A very loud insect.  I’ve heard clappers before, but this was ridiculous!  I could see it flying about 10 yards away.  It looked yellow in color, but I wasn’t able to get a better look at it to see what kind of an insect it actually was.  It wasn’t a moth or butterfly.

The halfway point of my hike brought me to Geer Pond.  This is by far my favorite pond at Mueller.  I’ve spent countless hours fishing here, and love the solitude.  No one was here today but I didn’t have time to stop and enjoy the pond (my kids were waiting for me back at the campsite).  I took a quick picture and started my (uphill) trek back. 

Mueller is a great place to hike, but unfortunately it sits at the top of a hill, so you inevitably start hiking downhill and end your hike going back up. Fortunately I would rather hike uphill, as my body is conditioned for an uphill hike. 

I passed a drainage area and those bikers again.  They were confused as to how I’d passed them, and I replied I’d taken a loop.  I ended up passing them a third time later in my hike, to which they seemed embarrassed:  “Usually the bikers pass the hikers” they noted.  I smiled, talked to them a bit about reading the trial maps at Mueller, and kept hiking. They never caught back up with me. 

I hadn’t seen any wildlife on this hike (except that loud insect), so I was happy to see a rabbit in the middle of the trail.  It wasn’t happy to see me and bounded behind a tree.  I watched it and was delighted to see a cluster of (edible) Sheathed Woodtuft mushrooms. 

That was the extent of my hike.  As always I was glad I’d taken the hike, but a bit disappointed I hadn’t seen more wildlife.  I ended up getting quite a sunburn as well, which was totally unexpected since I’d hiked the entire time with goosebumps, wishing I’d brought along a jacket.

Author: Laura M Clark

Laura has summited over 500 peaks above 13,000' solo, including being the first woman to solo summit all of the Colorado 14ers, as well as the centennials. After each hike, she writes trip reports for each one and publishes them on her blog, which is read by fans all over the world. Author of Wild Wanderer: Summiting Colorado’s 200 Highest Peaks, which is available to purchase on Amazon.

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