TELLER COUNTY — In our exclusive series Adventures with Alan, we'll travel across Southern Colorado week-by-week to show you thrills and chills, hidden gems and well-known spots.
Horsethief Falls...we're back!
The Horsethief Falls Trail is a three mile out-and-back hike that can be found off of Highway 67 in Teller County, midway between Divide and Cripple Creek.
As you may recall, it's a hike that we first did last summer, but hiking in winter can be a whole new experience.
Part of the reason that we chose this trail again, this time of the year, was to try it with microspikes.
"Microspikes are designed to give you additional traction that you've lost, that you wouldn't have had with your regular hiking boots given that the terrain is now a hard, slick surface," said Rachael Abler.
Abler is the Associate Director of Outdoor Education at Colorado College. She's helping us stay safe on this winter hike.
Getting them on isn't too difficult. It only takes a few minutes.
The spikes are lightweight and easy to use to use...and they're compatible with most hiking shoes.
Right away...I can tell a difference with the amount of traction they provide.
On the snow packed trail, the microspikes give you the kind of grip that your hiking boots just won't provide.
"Anything from November into early May, just having that (microspike) as a staple item in your backpack for anytime you're gonna venture out and about is really a great idea," said Abler.
The higher we climb, the more snow we find.
Up here...the air is crisp and the trail is covered with firm packed snow.
It's a winter wonderland, and it's absolutely gorgeous!
The snowy landscape, an empty trail, bluebird skies...I could get used to this.
After soaking in the peaceful mountain views, we continue onward, passing one last fork in the road before the trail turns icy.
Ice versus snow is certainly more challenging, but these spikes get the job done.
After a little more than a hour, we come across a frozen layer of ice that marks the bottom of the falls.
For safety and comfort reasons, we decide not to hike any further on the ice before turning around and making our way back down the trail.
Winter Hiking Tip #1
As you just saw...hiking in Southern Colorado in the winter can bring a whole new set of challenges.
Packing the proper supplies is imperative. This includes extra layers of clothing, food, water and traction devices such as microspikes.
Winter Hiking Tip #2
Always, always check the forecast! For example, we did the hike on a bluebird day. Hiking during a storm would be an extra challenge that I wasn't prepard to try, given that this was my first time on microspikes
Horsethief Falls winter hike adventure rating
When it comes to difficulty, snow and ice will naturally make the hike more challenging, but the spikes as you can imagine definitely help. I'll score this 3.5 out of 5.
For scenery...there's nothing like a bluebird day in the snow covered mountains of Southern Colorado. I'm gonna give this 4.5 out of 5.
For fun level, I had a blast! 5 out of 5.
Now for my final score....let's rate this 5 stars out of 5.
Trying out microspikes on your own
In researching this story, I called six to seven different outdoor recreation stores in the Pikes Peak Region, and none of these businesses rent microspikes.
Stores like REI or Mountain Chalet do sell them, and it's a great investment if you're serious about hiking in the winter. Prices range between $35 to as much as $75. I've also been told that thrift stores carry them.
We also discovered that Colorado College rents microspikes and other outdoor gear to students, staff and faculty at very reasonable prices. The catch here...you must be affiliated with the school.
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