White River Trail from Alta Crystal Resort
Wednesday, October 14, 2009
This is a great year-round trail for hiking, biking, horseback riding, trail running—and, in the winter, we snowshoe here too!
We decided to take the dogs on a quick walk last Sunday afternoon. It was a gorgeous Fall day with clear blue skies and cool temperatures—plus the Fall colors are nearing their peak and we wanted to take some pictures.
The intersection with the White River Trail is just about a 5-minute walk from Alta Crystal Resort. All you have to do is cross the foot bridge over Deep Creek and follow the trail where it says “Horse Traffic”. The trail meanders along the ridge line, and trail runners like it because it’s mostly flat and you can go forever! Part of the trail parallels Highway 410 so you’ll occasionally see cars, but it usually feels incredibly peaceful with mainly trees for company.
The first thing of note on this hike is Dry Creek and two large private cabins on Forest Service land that are mainly used by skiers in the winter. After Dry Creek, the trail continues across the site of a large slide, and the colors of the vine maples there were just incredible. We then meandered along through the forest to Ranger Creek.
Ranger Creek was the site of a giant tree fall last winter. If you remember, the mountains got about 8 feet of snow in 8 days. It then warmed up, and the trees’ shallow roots just couldn’t hold the weight of the heavy snow on their tops. Trees toppled everywhere! The trail crews did an incredible job of clearing the trail, but take a moment and appreciate what it looked like after the storm.
Past the junction with Ranger Creek, you’ll come to another sign where you can make a decision. You can go up to Little Ranger Creek, the Palisades Trail, etc. (all are glorious hikes) or stay left and keep going towards Camp Sheppard. It was late in the day so we continued towards Camp Sheppard. After about 100 yards, you’ll come to another sign so you know you’re going the right way. From Alta Crystal to this sign is about 2 miles one way, and from the sign to Camp Sheppard is about another 2 miles each way. We hiked about a mile further (since we were in search of fall colors) and then turned around.
This trail is usually uncrowded, and it’s nice to walk without a lot of noise. On Sunday afternoon, we saw 4 other people—3 who were looking for mushrooms and 1 who was doing an 8-mile trail run. No horses that day—but lots and lots of ground squirrels getting ready for winter.
All in all, a wonderful way to get some exercise, smell the trees, and let our dogs run, play in the water and chase squirrels. Plus we had some wonderful Fall colors thrown in! It was a great day.