Many Denver drivers are familiar with the Loveland Pass and other points where area freeways cross the Continental Divide. These high mountain passes are as majestic in the summer as they are in the winter, when they are whipped with cold winds that set powdery snow dancing around the rocky peaks. The Baker/Loveland Trail No. 60, a segment of the Continental Divide National Scenic Trail that runs through the same area, is not as well known, though it should be.
This unique dog-friendly trail is a good option for people looking for an accessible hike with their pup through this otherwise forbidding terrain. Even though the trail altitude hovers in the 10,000-foot range, the elevation gain along this nine-mile round-trip hike is a relatively modest 800 feet. Do note that while the trail is open in the winter, it is groomed as a cross-country trail during that time. When not under snow cover, the gentle trail, which became much more accessible after it was paved in 2010, is open to cyclists, equestrians, and hikers. Adventurous folks can also hike the trail in the winter, but be prepared to trek through snow and yield to skiers.
The extent to which you can hear the whooshing of cars along this trail varies, but to many, the noise is as pleasant as the gentle murmuring of Clear Creek, which runs parallel to the trail. As the snow melts, the creek bursts into a small torrent and forms waterfalls. The sky is often sunny here and a piercing bright blue. At some places along the trail, you can see through the trees to I-70 and beyond. At other points, you're surrounded entirely by pines. Not only are their rich green shades a treat for the eyes, their scent lends something to the air that both human and canine noses can appreciate. The looming peaks of 14,000-foot-tall mountains add drama to the forest scenery.
If you're looking for a satisfying dog-friendly hike within an hour's drive from Denver, check out the Bakerville/Loveland Trail. You'll be amazed by how wild it feels to hike just steps away from a main road.