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441 Park & Ride to Bear Lake 2011-07-17

view from the shore of Bierstadt Lake

Friday morning we had chores to do and could not go into the mountains until the afternoon. Without any real plans we caught the shuttle bus from the Glacier Basin Campground and rode it probably less than a mile to the Park and Ride, where we would have to transfer to another bus. Though the ride was pleasant and we enjoyed talking to the driver, we decided on a hiking route to Bear Lake.

Last year, we had hiked down a steep trail from Bierstadt Lake to the Park and Ride. We chose it as our route but we were going to have to climb the steep hill.

The connecting trail is about 1.8 miles in distance (every sign we saw had a different mileage on it.) It was divided into three sections. Near the top of the first section a family of three was seated by the trail. They asked, 'how much further is it?' From experience at answering navigation questions I always answer with a question, 'where are you going?' Soon, the son, backed by the parents, were giving us a detailed account of their perils of a day on the trail. We really did not know where they went, how they got lost, how far they had hiked, or how long they had been hiking, but we finally figured out they were trying to get to the Park and Ride two tenths of a mile down the hill. We hope they made it!

We felt sorry for the Lost Family. They were going for a hike; but had no sense of Navigation, carried no gear, and had no backcountry skills. If the weather had changed (it was a nice day) they would have been in trouble. Hiking in the mountains is not the same as a walk in a crowded shopping mall but finding your car at the end of the day just might be!

On to the trail: the second section of the trail was steep. Added to the steepness, the trail (an old road) was in terrible condition. Soon we finished the section and were rewarded with an enjoyable stretch of nearly flat trail. After the pleasant stroll, once again the trail grew steep. This time, perhaps even steeper than before. Ouch. It hurt as we climbed that last section.


groomed trail near Bierstadt Lake

Groomed trail near the Lake

Lake Bierstadt was beautiful, as usual.

It was late in the day and we were really doing a fitness hike, so we soon were on our way.

The trail to Bear Lake climbs steadily, though not as steeply as earlier, for almost a mile before it descends to the large trailhead.

As we neared the Bear Lake Trailhead there was a funny incident ...

Two college age girls were leaving the trailhead carrying the large crash pads used for bouldering. The girls wore tank tops and were obviously athletes.

Two high school boys saw the girls and said to one another, "they've got yoga mats. Why would they need a yoga mat up here?" as they snickered to each other.

The poor boys, did not know what a bouldering crash mat was or, for that matter, what a yoga mat was! Ah, boys.


odd trees near Bierstadt Lake

Oddly shaped trees along the lake shore

A few Park and Ride to Bear Lake trail notes ...

The Park and Ride has restrooms.

Trail information is available from the kiosks and an information booth.

The trail from the Park and Ride to Bierstadt Lake is difficult. It is very steep and the trail on the steep sections is mostly loose rocks.

The trail from Bierstadt Lake to Bear Lake is moderate.

The trail is easy to follow and there are directional signs at every junction.

The trail from Bear Lake down to the Park and Ride is a popular ski run during the snowy seasons.

We enjoyed the hike. It was steep but we were using it as a fitness test. The section from the Park and Ride to Bierstadt Lake is not a casual walk in the park. Most folks would prefer to take the bus to Bear Lake and do an out and back hike to the beautiful shores of Lake Bierstadt.

Happy steep trails


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