Monday, January 23, 2012

Milner and Bobcat Loop

~23Miles from Nick's House
Milner Mountain Summit (6881')
Pt. 7124 "Mahoney Knob" (proposed name)
Blurry view of Horsetooth Reservoir from Milner Summit

More than 150 years before our town's most famous British-born ultrarunner moved his family here, the Milner Family emigrated from England and settled in the environs between Milner Mountain and Bobcat Ridge, including the Redstone and Buckhorn canyons. The details of their early life, and the surrounding geohistory, are a storied piece of Western history, with a local school being named after Sarah Milner (as pointed out by my wife), the first teacher in the first public school in Larimer County.
Most of the surrounding land is private, and I have no idea if it's possible, but since there are some ranch properties for sale in the area, any possible addition of this historic land to the Larimer County Natural Areas would be a remarkable way to preserve the area, especially the impressive summit of Milner Mountain.

Anyway, Nick proposed a loop around Bobcat Ridge -- which is my favourite natural area, but is an otherwise routine loop. To make it more interesting, though, he proposed some exploration of Milner Mountain, which lies, conveniently, between his house and Bobcat Ridge. This extra bit of adventure would allow us to visit a new summit, and was sure to enliven what would otherwise have been a 5-mile road trudge. He has more of the details of the summit, but nominally it requires sufficient routefinding and obtaining permission, with respect to local ranch properties.

On the West side of Milner, we enjoyed following Firethorn Drive, South of Masonville, as a new road to explore, which pops out almost directly across from the Bobcat Ridge entrance. We arrived with no other cars, horses, or people in sight, although this could probably be attributed to the constant blustery wind and overcast skies.

The climb up the Ginny Trail is always enjoyable, and Nick has remarked that the terrain and elevation changes are very similar to the WS100 trail, making it a great training ground. My legs felt good, but since I hadn't brought sunglasses, my eyes were getting blurry in the wind, and I was getting dizzy trying to focus on the trail. Time to get new sunglasses! This got better as soon as we shifted out of the wind and headed into the trees near Mahoney Park.

Now at the far NW edge of the Bobcat Ridge trail system, there's a prominent knob which I always thinking about heading up and tagging, but never have. Based on the climb from the valley, and previous views from Milner, we thought it might be the officially ranked highpoint of Green Ridge, so we decided to make a quick go at it, which was especially nice on non-rattlesnake season. There's a fun little summit block at the top, with great views, but clearly the higher (and even more interesting) summits of Green Ridge and nearby Spruce Mountain were further North. We saved those for another day, in what looks like could be a fun combo loop from the North (possibly even as far as Storm Mountain).

Distant view of Milner Mountain, from West

We finished up the loop with some remaining ice in the shady parts of the DR trail, but then had easy work on the lower, frozen mud (complete with frozen mt. bike tracks) of the Valley trail, before the final uphill road slog back to Nick's house, completing a fun and interesting loop.


  1. Mahoney Knob is a most excellent naming proposal; consider it seconded.

    Your history link is no good, but thanks for the brief intro. I knew there was a reason I was drawn to the general area.

    I like the Storm, Spruce, Green route idea. Jug Trail and other FRs look like they would connect it pretty well.