|View eastward toward a ridge extending from Pike's Peak|
Mueller State Park is a relatively new Colorado state park, having been cobbled together from several ranches. The park road turns west off of the north-south state highway south of Divide, Colorado, travels about a mile into the heart of the park, then turns sharply north to provide access to campgrounds and trailheads. The beautiful new Visitor Center is located on a high point at the sharp bend in the road.
We stopped at the Visitor Center to get oriented and to ask for hiking suggestions. I jokingly approached the ranger with the question, "Can you recommend a 5-mile hike with great scenic views and waterfalls?" To my amazement, she replied, "I sure can (sort of)!" She sketched out a route that included several scenic viewpoints and the canyon of the only perennial watercourse in the otherwise high, dry and arid park.
|Kali at Raven Ridge Overlook looking southward|
|View eastward toward the northwestward shoulder of Pike's Peak|
|Another view southwestward from Raven Ridge|
|Geer Pond, where we were greeted by a pair of Mallards|
|Kali on the trail below the Geer Pond dam|
|Rock Pond - aptly named. All of the numerous ponds in the park are old ranch ponds behind dams|
|Through an aspen grove|
Nearly all the trails through the park are located on the ranch roads that used to criss-cross the land that is now park. However, the state parks folks have done an excellent job of converting the roads to trails and of maintaining those trails, which, for the most part, are more like wide pathways than old roads. In addition, all of the trails are very well marked and corresponded exactly to the trail map.
Our hike at Mueller State Park was actually the most pleasant hike we completed during our visit to Colorado this year. The trails were well-maintained, were not too steep (because they were old ranch roads), and were well-marked. The scenery wasn't "national park" spectacular, but we enjoyed the abundant wildflowers, the ease of walking, and the cool breezes sighing through the evergreens.
We returned from our hike just as the skies opened up with a torrential mid-summer mountain downpour. Great timing!