I found another trail that is low enough in elevation to stay out of the snow but high enough to stay away from ticks. The Army Corps of Engineers has had active projects in the Elk Creek area since 1971. Originally to be developed for hydroelectric power and flood control, the dam projects ended up falling through for environmental reasons (mostly to protect anadromous fish). The area is now moving in a direction of being a outdoor recreation site.
I started at the Upper Elk Creek trailhead, named Homesteaders trailhead. This is the northernmost end of the trail. It starts off as soft gravel, but quickly turns into an old paved road. The old road is the “trail”, although there are human and deer trails that traverse the flats closer to the creeks edge, especially the further south you go.
At almost exactly 5 miles in, I reached the Yellow Rock trailhead, which marked my turn-around point. I could see Yellow Rock Canyon on my phone’s map, so I did a little bit of exploring before I headed back (I didn’t see anything super special). It was good timing with the weather because the sun went behind the clouds and never game back, so I had to get back to my car before the rain hit. It sprinkled on us a little bit, but not enough to make it too cold or wet.
Overall, this hike wasn’t bad. It was kind of annoying that I had to avoid cowpies so often, yet that’s kind of expected near so much private property. When I hike it again, I need to take the unpaved route as often as possible because the constant stepping on hard surfaces made my feet uncomfortable by the end. I could often see the trails, but I didn’t want to walk in all the mud and cow poop.
If you’re interested in this hike’s stats and map, here you go: