Now open for camping, Colorado’s state parks have been a breath of fresh air for many over the last months. Though the majority of the state had shut down, Gov. Jared Polis made it clear early on that keeping state parks open for Coloradans for hiking and fresh air was important. Most state parks were kept open in one way or another with restrictions such as closing campgrounds, showers, and bathrooms.
Over Memorial Day weekend, following camping restrictions lifting last week, Trinidad Lake State Park (TLSP) saw full capacity with RV’s, tent campers, and bumper pull campers.
“It was busy,” said TLSP Ranger Floyd Duran. “The weather on Monday was a little cold and breezy but the campgrounds were completely full.”
Being spring, Duran said it’s important right now to watch for snakes and be aware of the wildlife.
“Here on the park we have had a couple of rattlesnake sightings,” said Duran, “but to the best of my knowledge we have not had any bear sightings.”
TLSP, just outside of Trinidad, has a plethora of hiking trails with varying degrees of difficulty from leisure walk to steep, rock embankments. With a pass being $9 per visit currently, I decided to invest in an annual moveable pass for $120 and it’s already paid itself off a few weeks later. Plus, knowing I can throw up my tag and go for a hike whenever the urge hits means I go nearly every day after working behind a computer for a lot of the day.
For those of you looking for a little bit of adventure or perhaps a challenge, here are two trails I’ve done numerous times I feel are worth checking out.
At around 1.5 miles, with some up and down terrain, this trail is perfect for those who are just starting to get out on the trail. The first time I walked the trail looping around cliffs overhanging Trinidad Lake, it took me about 45 minutes and took all the breath out of me. Now, I can run a decent portion of it and finish it in around 20 minutes.
There are one or two spots where rebar is exposed on the trail and one section that takes you down in elevation pretty quickly which takes some time to maneuver, but all in all the views and tranquility of the hike, and the fact that it can be done so quickly has made it my ‘regular’ trail.
The trail head is located right across from the campground bathroom and shower facility with convenient parking and a map to give you some ideas for future hikes.
Reilly Canyon Trail
This 4.5-mile trail has some of the best views to be had at TLSP and is a great hike for those looking for a longer stretch. With a couple short stops to admire the unique rock formations and take photos, generally the trail can be finished in just over 2 hours one way.
Unless you plan to pack up for an in and out nine-mile hike, the best way I’ve found to enjoy the trail is to have a friend follow me to the trail end, drop off my car and let my friend shuttle me to the trailhead which is the same as the Levsa trail at TLSP campgrounds. The trail’s end can be found traveling further up Highway 12 and taking a left at the coke ovens directly across from the Cokedale turnoff.
Being a longer trail, it’s really important to bring plenty of water and some protein packed snacks for fuel help around mile marker three.
Share your state park experiences
If you decide to try out one of these trails or any others, be sure to take some photos and share them with us on our Facebook page or forward your state park experiences to me at News1@trinidadchroniclenews.com. I’d love to share in your adventures.