If you and your canine kid are looking for a pawesome new trail in the Arapaho and Roosevelt National Forests in the Rocky Mountains, you should check out the Homestead Meadows Trail in Lyons, Colorado. This 5.6-mile out and back trail is not just a great hike, but it is also a historic one. In fact, Homestead Meadows is listed on the National Registry of Historic Places with the remnants of eight homesteads from the 19th and 20th centuries.
Your expedition starts at the Lion Gulch Trailhead on Highway 36 where there is a free parking lot. You will find no restrooms or water here, so you will have to bring your own H20 and practice the “leave no trace” principles. Bring along some baggies to clean up after your fur baby. You can access the Homestead Meadows Trail by taking the Lion Gulch Trail. There's an information board at the trailhead with historical information about Lion Gulch and the Homestead Meadows.
You and your canine kid will hike three miles on the Lion Gulch Trail, which starts out as a drop down into a stream and then you will begin climbing up the gulch where you will cross the stream several times using bridges, logs, and sometimes just rocks so you should wear proper shoes. The first crossing is the Muggins Gulch Crossing, and then there are bridges at 0.3 and 0.9. The other crossovers are in random areas depending on the season and rainfall. You can use the water from the stream to refill your water bottles if you treat it first.
From the second mile marker, the incline becomes very steep, and that continues throughout the entire hike. You will see an intersection for Lion’s Paw at 3.2 miles, the Griffith Homestead junction at 3.5 miles, and the beginning of the Homestead Meadow Trail at 3.7 miles. There is a shortcut trail (949.2) to the right past the first Griffith cabin at 3.6 miles, but the official trail stays on 971-1 to continue about a mile east to a sawmill and the Irvin Homestead. The Boren Homestead marks the end of the Homestead Meadow Trail. It is best to get a map of the homesteads from the Canyon Lakes Ranger’s Office.
With pawrific scenery, incredible wildlife, and history along the way, the Homestead Meadows Trail is a furific hike you and your pooch will love!