On the Trail: The midvalley’s Ute
As a new resident of the midvalley, I’ve been longing for the midvalley equivalent of Aspen’s quick workout hikes – the Ute Trail and Smuggler being the two that come to mind.Several folks suggested I seek out the Arbaney Kittle Trail in Holland Hills. I finally heeded their advice, hitting this popular midvalley route twice last weekend.It’s neither Smuggler nor the Ute, but something in between. It lacks the sharp switchbacks required by the steepness of the hillside the Ute Trail traverses, but a number of its straight, uphill stretches make Smuggler look tame by comparison. I could feel it in my calves on the way up and in my knees on the way down.Arbaney Kittle also offers the social aspect of Smuggler. Even I, a newbie to the neighborhood, ran into a hiker I knew.I have no idea where the trail actually ends. I hiked about 45 minutes to what I was told is a typical turnaround point – a flat, wide area with a view into the Fryingpan Valley. It’s sort of like the platform on Smuggler as a popular destination, though one can hike considerably farther up that mountain.According to one hiking guide, the Arbaney Kittle Trail is 16 miles round-trip, and you can wind up above Lenado. I didn’t go nearly that far, but I intend further exploration – after I get a map, and when hunting season is finished. Nothing was happening near me, but I heard frequent gunfire from hunters across the valley, in the hills at the base of Mount Sopris.Sopris, by the way, is the best part of this hike. The elevation gain provides some stellar views of the midvalley’s most prominent peak, make that twin peaks, now covered in snow.To get there: The trailhead can be accessed by foot or bike off the Basalt-Old Snowmass bike trail (behind the Roaring Fork Club). It’s also accessible by car: Drive east from Basalt on Highway 82 and take a left onto Bishop Drive. Veer left at the fork in the road and left again when the road turns to dirt (watch for the signs). The road ends in a parking lot at the trailhead.
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