The Art of Exploration · a diary of day trips, natural places, and miscellaneous adventures

Balanced Rock, Lumpy Ridge

Thursday, July 23rd, 2015 in Colorado
Balanced Rock, Lumpy Ridge

First, a bit of local wildlife news. One night last week, a bear broke into the Colorado Cherry Company pie shop—a popular eatery in the quiet mountain community of Pinewood Springs. The bear in question climbed in through the kitchen window at the back of the building and made a beeline to several large racks of recently baked pies.

A bear in a pie shop. Can you just picture it?

Anyway, the bear proceeded to devour … (wait for it) … 24 cherry pies and 14 apple pies (!!!) before vacating the premises and, in all likelihood, staggering back into the pine forest to barf.

Since hearing this story, I have been quite concerned about the bear, imagining him battling an entire armada of intestinal discomforts. Phil on the other hand is not at all worried and is instead convinced that bears boast guts of steel and that Cherry The Bear (as we are now calling him) is lounging in some quiet corner of Pinewood Springs, licking his chops and belching in complete culinary content. I do hope Phil is right.

Much to my delight, it remains wildflower season in the mountains. Much to my dismay, this bristle thistle (Carduus nutans) is an invasive species and as such is not technically one of the blooms I should celebrate.

Anyway, local bear lore aside, I wanted to share some of the pictures from another hike I did in the Lumpy Ridge area. I’ve been hiking here for several weeks now because the climb up to Gem Lake provides me with a good workout and, time-wise, it fits neatly it into a Sunday morning. This enables me to be back home by mid-afternoon and I can spend the rest of the day doing chores and preparing for the busy week of work ahead (because these days, all of my work weeks are busy).

Today was different though, I had no need to be back home to do chores and prepare for the corporate slog since I had booked Monday as a much-needed day off. So today, I hiked to Gem Lake and I kept going. What I found out is that there is a lot of trail past Gem Lake. After the lake you can descend down the back side of Lumpy Ridge and continue on towards the Cow Creek Trail.

If you’re not in the mood for the Cow Creek Trail, you can instead turn onto the quiet single-track that leads to Balanced Rock. As you can see from these pictures, that’s what I did because I am a sucker for balanced rocks. I was very pleased with this balanced rock. It is situated in a place that feels quiet and remote. The rock itself is smaller than Balanced Rock in Arches National Park (but don’t get me wrong—under no circumstances would I want it to fall on my foot). But what it lacks in raw bulk it makes up for in charisma: it is very pretty and exudes a tremendous, zen-like vibe.

Trail Map

Tags for this entry:   


London Mini Break
London Mini Break
The late afternoon sunlight illuminates the buildings along Harrington Gardens. An exhibit for Art on the Underground.
White Ranch Park
White Ranch Park
I arrive at the Rawhide Loop Trailhead shortly before sunrise. I’m an hour early for my first hike with the Colorado Mountain Club but I’m pleased for the extra time. There are two other cars parked in the lot but they are empty.
Celtic Sea