Hidden Gems hikes on tap | AspenTimes.com

Hidden Gems hikes on tap

Dear Editor:

The Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign is leading a hike up Huntsman Mountain on Saturday, July 3, and a wildflower hike with Aspen Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) naturalist Jim Kravitz in the Hunter Creek area on Wednesday, July 7.

These free hikes are part of a larger hike series into proposed wilderness areas in Eagle, Pitkin and Summit counties. The hikes this year tend to fall into two categories: challenging hikes designed to take even longtime local hikers to new places, and short, accessible hikes allowing hikers of all levels to experience the proposed wilderness areas.

The hikes are a great way to get out into less explored areas of the Roaring Fork Valley and see firsthand many of the areas in the Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal. With so much public discussion about the Hidden Gems, this is an opportunity to gain a deeper understanding of where the wilderness proposal areas are and what they look like on the ground.

Huntsman Ridge towers over the vermilion sandstone canyon of the Crystal River above Redstone. The ridge crest offers fabulous vistas of Capitol Peak, the Marble Valley, Chair Mountain, and even the distant San Juan Mountains.

The hike climbs 1,400 vertical feet to the ridge crest through aspen groves and fir forests. It then follows the gently rolling ridge above the solitary basins of Bear and Hayes creeks. The goal of this hike will be to reach the summit of remote Huntsman Mountain, towering above Coal Basin at almost 12,000 feet.

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The Hunter Creek hike is an easy half-day ramble past the popular lower area – Aspen’s playground – into the less-frequented terrain that is proposed to be added to the Hunter-Fryingpan Wilderness. The hike will include frequent stops to admire and learn about the wildflowers from Kravitz.

Other upcoming hikes in the Roaring Fork Valley include a trek to the hidden waterfall and mining ruins on the backside of Mount Sopris on July 18, a trip to the red rock slots of Seven Castles Waterfall on July 31, and an ascent of Treasure Mountain on Aug. 15.

The Hidden Gems Wilderness Campaign is seeking designation of major new Wilderness additions on the White River and Gunnison national forests and nearby Bureau of Land Management lands. The proposal would also create several brand-new, standalone wilderness areas. To view the hikes schedule and sign up or to learn more about the Hidden Gems Wilderness proposal, visit http://www.whiteriverwild.org/p-Hikes-74.html.

Collin Stewart

Carbondale