Hiking through White River National Forest.

Hiking a favorite trail earlier this week.

White River National Forest is a wandering, SAHF’s dream. One of our favorite hikes- the hike that doubles as a snowshoe trail during the winter- is located just past the Ski Tip Lodge on the road towards Montezuma. The Ranger called it the “social area” because backpackers and campers like to stop there.

You can park on the left near the large map, which, alas, does not include a sign or name. We dubbed it “Elysium” for lack of a better descriptor. Certainly, the gurgle and gush of the Snake River running along the trail feels heavenly.

After hiking for a few minutes, Gnome spotted a lounge chair away from the trail. We wandered over to theorize while Bunicu snapped a picture.

Recent rainstorms revealed a plethora of fungi peeking up from the moist soil.

Alpine daisies or tansyasters

Soon, the wildflowers and wild shrubs beguiled us in their honey-tongued language.

FIREWEED patch

FIREWEED up close

Between cool shaded areas filled with brilliant purple fireweed, there were patches of sunlight and red clover carpets.

DWARF GOLDENROD
(Solidago nana)

And the dwarf goldenrod, so small and delicate compared to the gargantuan Alabama variety, attracted a ceaseless stream of little butterflies. Gnome calls them “flutterbys”.

SMALL-LEAF PUSSYTOES
(Antennaria neglecta)

Bunica samples the resin from a pine tree. Our fingers stayed scented for so long afterwards. The Eldest used the resin to seal a papercut on his finger. Just because.

Never underestimate the creativity and skill set of backwoods campers and backpackers.

The smiley face a hiker left behind at the trail’s end… I can only imagine the keys had been there for a while- the joints were covered in a light sprinkling of orange rust.

WILD STRAWBERRY SNACK

After hiking Elysium, we wanted to take a longer trail- one that allowed us to bring the kids and get a summit view of Summit County. We dropped by the Ranger’s station to learn more about local hikes, and finally settled on the Lily Pad Lake trail (details forthcoming).

In the meantime, here’s a collection of family-friendly hikes in White River National Forest:

Lily Pad Lake (Easy, 3 miles RT)
Lower Cataract Lake Loop (Easy, 2.02 miles RT)
Gold Hill (Moderate, 3.02 miles OW)
McCullough Gulch (Moderate, 1.27 miles OW)
Mesa Cortina/South Willow Falls (Easy, 4.71 miles OW to South Willow Falls)
Old Dillon Reservoir (Easy, O.77 miles OW)
Sapphire Point Loop (Easy, 0.67 miles loop)
Tenderfoot (Easy, 1.84 miles OW)