This is the last full week before my son goes back to school. It’s become a tradition for me to take the week off and for us to do fun things in the area. This year, I wrote activities on paper, and tossed them in a hat. Every morning, we’re drawing out of the hat to see what we’re going to do. Today, a trip to Chinns Lake was the lucky winner.
Chinns Lake is a small lake in Arapaho’s National Forest that is at 11,300ft above sea level. The trail is relatively short, and given a rating of moderate, mainly because you need to have decent clearance. The time of year is probably the determining factor is 4WD is truly required, but I did see a Tundra at one mild section struggling with traction without 4WD engaged. The initial ascent is an easy, wide rolling road that eventually gets progressively rockier and steeper. About 2 miles in is old mining debris on the side of the road. We got out and explored the area a little bit.
There’s a creek that runs the entire length of the road that heads up to Chinns Lake, and Fall River Reservoir, that we hiked down to explore. My son commented on how cool it looked and said it looked like a salmon ladder, as there were small stepped falls that climbed up quite a ways. Once back in the 4Runner, we drove a little further until we hit a fork in the road at about the 2.5 mile point. To the right, Fall River, and to the left Chinns Lake. We first decided to check out Fall River Reservoir.
My son tossed a line in the lake, but there wasn’t anything biting today. We were able to spot some small rainbow trout along the rocky shoreline, as well as marmots in the rocks. We hiked up to some small falls, which made my son a little nervous, as it was a fairly steep climb. After exploring there, it was back on the trail and up to Chinns.
All in all, it was a really fun day. A few years ago, I picked up Charles Wells Funtreks books to get more familiar with Colorado trails. Until today, we’ve done mostly graded/forest roads. I think it helped my son that the trail wasn’t a scary shelf road above the tree line. Being mostly in the trees, which helped masked some of the drop offs, he was really calm and happy to be outside. I’ve made a concerted effort the last few weeks to get out into the mountains more and get him unplugged from Xbox, iPads, etc. Today was probably the longest overall drive I can remember being in the car where I didn’t get asked “are we there yet” and it was close to a 6 hour day overall.