A Hike in Squirrel Creek Canyon

24 August, 2016
Rye Colorado

The first developed recreation area on National Forest land!

Following the Ludlow Massacre in 1914 near the Rockefeller's Colorado Fuel and Iron Corporation camps, there was a surge towards labor reforms which, among other things, resulted in the first developed recreation area in the National Forest system.  Increased leisure time along with rising automobile ownership and developed roads meant that more people were visiting the National Forests.

A landscape architect was hired to manage the impacts of so many visitors to the Squirrel Creek Canyon area.  Arthur Carhart had been a sanitation officer during WWI and was appalled at the health risks he encountered - trash, stream pollution, denuded slopes and the dangers of uncontrolled campfires.  Carhart's solution would revolutionize how public lands would be handled in the future and saw the creation of recreation areas that balanced responsible recreation, wilderness and commercial interests.  

The campgrounds in Squirrel Creek Canyon have been maintained in close to the original style (the picnic tables are constructed of massive logs!).

We didn't hike the entire creek trail as it appeared to follow the creek forever (and all downhill on the way out - which, of course, meant all uphill on the way back).  The trail was partially a wash, partially a constructed ATV path and crossed the creek a number of times.  We could see small fish (maybe brook trout) in the clear water.  A very pleasant hike and it wasn't too hot in all the trees.

One of the more open parts of the trail, just at the beginning.

Bishop's Castle

On the way back to camp, Julie took a detour to show me one of the more colorful aspects so far in the San Isabel NF.  A guy (named Bishop) 'claimed' ownership of some land in the NF - and has built a most eccentric structure (the Castle).  He has a cafe and let's folks tour the castle (if they dare, it certainly isn't built to any formal code).  He has signs up around the property that remind me of the meandering label on Dr. Bronners soap bottles (only more anti-government and paranoid).

See the dragon head and wings?


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