Ancient trees found on Antones Trail | VailDaily.com

Ancient trees found on Antones Trail

Although Sylvan Lake State Park is closed for another summer, there are still plenty of trails open for hiking in the surrounding area. You can begin hiking the Antones Trail either at LEDE Reservoir or at FSR No. 414.

What to Expect

To begin at FSR 414, exit Interstate 70 in Eagle and head towards U.S. Highway 6. Drive towards downtown Eagle, taking a left onto Capitol Street. After taking another left onto Brush Creek Road, follow signs to FSR 400 and Sylvan Lake. Continue past Sylvan Lake on FSR 400 until it intersects with FSR 414. Turn right onto FSR 414 then take the first right. As you continue on this road, the trailhead will be marked on your left.

This trail begins quickly as it climbs into an open meadow. Look for cattle grazing while passing by. While soaking up the sun, hiking through the meadow, don’t forget to look up and get a view of Red Table Mountain Ridge.

Entering a stand of Aspen, the trail begins climbing again, this time along a stream. After reemerging into another open area, the trail becomes faint, so stick to the tree line on the left as it climbs the meadow. This open area offers amazing views of Mount of the Holy Cross and the Sawatch Range.

The trail becomes more clear as it approaches a sign for Antones Lake Trail. This is the highest point of the hike, at just over 10,000 feet. Continuing along the trail, descend to LEDE Reservoir. An excellent place for a picnic and a rest; the fields surrounding the reservoir provide opportunity to view mule deer, elk and moose. The reservoir is 2.8 miles from the opposite trailhead making this an excellent, 5.6 mile out-and-back day hike.

Remember your Field Guide

Ascending through spruce, pine and fir, look for some stoic giants that are known to be over 100 years old. This trail has some amazing old-growth trees alongside it. Douglas fir in particular can be between 50 and 500 years old. Douglas firs are so strong that even forest fires only result in minor burns to their bark. These ancient trees were here before many of us and will likely be here after. Make sure to respect their home, stick to the established trail and pack out everything you pack in.

Jamie Jubeck is a backcountry interpretive guide with Walking Mountains Science Center.