About 3.7 miles to Lulu City, about 5 miles to Little Yellowstone Elevation change: 350 feet to Lulu, 1,021 feet to Little Yellowstone Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado River trailhead
Easy to moderate trail Very well-maintained trail with good river crossings The steep sections are short Sounds and views of various rivers
Sections get a little steep Can get crowded as the day goes on
Back in 1880, a meadow in what is now Rocky Mountain National Park was a bustling place. It was named Lulu City, probably after a miners daughter. Lulu City was a mining town and like most mining towns, it boomed and in a couple years it went bust.
Now Lulu City is a hiking destination on the west side of Rocky Mountain National Park. We started the hike at the Colorado River trailhead. Getting an early start was key; at 8:30 a.m., even on a Saturday we found just one other car in the parking lot.
The trail was surprisingly easy, but be ready for quite a bit of up and down. While the elevation change between the trailhead and Lulu City is just 350 feet, you may go up and down those 350 feet a couple times. The trail follows the Colorado River here and there, we even saw people fishing on the way down the trail.
As you follow the trail youll see cutoffs to Lulu City three times. At 3.5 miles in, youll get your first signed cutoff to Lulu city just .2 miles away. We decided to continue on and see Lulu City on the way back. At the third cutoff, theres a sign saying its 4.4 miles to the trailhead, .8 to Lulu City and .1 to Little Yellowstone. Theres also a major river crossing here. While there wasnt much water flowing in mid-July, you could see evidence that there was a major flood here in the last few years. A fast moving flood in 2003 downed a lot of trees in this area. There is a bridge to help hikers get across.
We decided to press on a .1 of a mile to Little Yellowstone. Now a warning, that .1 mile is not right. If you want to see the view most think of as resembling Yellowstone National Park, youll need to hike another .6 of a mile or so. Another warning. After a fairly easy hike, the trail changes at this spot. Youre now climbing. Notice at the top of this article, the elevation change between the trailhead and Little Yellowstone is 1,021 feet, you'll do most of that climbing right here. After crossing several small scenic waterfalls, youll see the view of the rocks and the canyon. It is a beauty. Make sure you take in the view both directions, toward the canyon, and back toward the trailhead, the Never Summer Mountains and even a meadow back down there.
We continued a little further hoping for a view of the canyon in the opposite direction, but we passed some hikers coming from the opposite direction who said they hadnt seen the canyon view yet so we turned around and went back to where you could see the view for lunch. The valley nicknamed "Little Yellowstone" in Rocky Mountain National Park.
After a nice break it was time to head back down to Lulu City. When we got back to the 4.4 mile sign, we decided to take the trail toward Lulu City to see something different. This was a good choice. Id say it was scenic, but so was the Little Yellowstone trail. Id say it was very foresty, but so was the Little Yellowstone trail. I guess Ill just say we liked it.
Next stop, Lulu City. Fortunately, I read several articles on the Internet and I knew not to expect your typical ghost town. One report I read said that after Lulus residents disappeared, people in neighboring towns took apart the homes and businesses in Lulu City to steal, well take, the wood.
There are a couple homes you can spot if you look closely. Mainly youll see the wood outline, a few boards that are left and the trees that have grown since the homes were abandoned. There is a sign saying Lulu City, 1879-1884. But articles Ive read say this boom towns streets were platted out in 1880 and two and a half years later everybody was leaving town. Im not vouching for the validity of this article, but it has a ton of information about the history of Lulu City, click here
. Lulu City was reportedly big enough at one point to have regular mail, stage service and even a two-cabin red light district. Several reports say the town once boasted 500 residents, but the National Park Service sign at the site says it had 200 residents. There's not much left in Lulu City, mainly just the foundations of a couple cabins.
Leaving Lulu City was interesting. At one point you cross another river bed and you can see a flood must have come through here many, many years ago. Large trees have grown back in the area, but theres a lot of rock spread over a large area. After you cross the bridge here, get ready to climb. Theres quite a bit of elevation gain to get back to the Little Yellowstone trail. Once you get the cutoff sign, its 3.5 miles back to the trailhead and your car.
If youre feeling like you want more hike, there are several ways to extend this hike. If you stay on the Little Yellowstone trail, you can continue to the Grand Ditch and La Poudre Pass. If you come back to the 4.4 mile sign on the Little Yellowstone trail and turn towards Lulu City, youll find signs and trails leading to the Grand Ditch and Thunder Pass.
If you have questions, comments or hiking trail suggestions, e-mail me email@example.com
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Previous hiking reports:(lower elevation hikes have a star)
, Mallory Cave*
, Marshall Mesa
,Heil Valley Ranch*
, South Boulder Peak*
, The Boulder Flatirons*
, Walker Ranch*
, Bear Peak*
, Rabbit Mountain*
, Bald Mountain*
, Betasso Preserve*
, Wonderland Lake*
, Chimney Gulch*
, Apex Park*
, Elk Meadow*
, Chicago Lakes
, Chief Mountain
Rocky Mountain National Park:
, Twin Sisters
, Bierstadt Lake
, Chasm Lake
, The Loch, Andrew's Glacier
, Sandbeach Lake
Indian Peaks/James Peak Wilderness:
King, Bob & Betty Lakes
, Forest Lakes
, Arapaho Lakes
, Mitchell & Blue Lakes
, James Peak Area
, Heart Lake
, Devil's Backbone*
, Lake Agnes
Summit & Eagle Counties:
, Missouri Lakes
, Mohawk Lakes & Continental Falls
St Louis Lake
, Waterfall At Snow Mountain Ranch
, Granby Ranch
Exploring Fulford Cave
, Our Favorite Hikes
, Our Favorite Bike Rides
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