February 7, 2009

Buttonrock to Hall Ranch

Joel and Our Dad - by Renee Haip

Yesterday, Friday the 6th, we finally did a local hike that our mom and dad have been wanting to do for a couple of years.  It is an 8 mile one-way hike, starting at the Buttonrock Nature Preserve and ending up at the Hall Ranch trailhead near Lyons.

For the first three-quarters of a mile, our path followed the St. Vrain River upstream, where we missed seeing American Dippers, which we usually see on this stretch of the river.  We headed away from the river at the Sleepy Lion trailhead.  We followed this trail up to a mountain meadow, where we saw a Townsend's Solitaire, and then hiked on to an overlook of Ralph Price Reservoir before heading east to meet up with the Button Rock Trail.  This trail took us through some more pine forests and a series of mountain meadows eventually meeting up with the Nighthawk Trail.  We kept a traveling bird count on a map and had seen the usual Pygmy Nuthatches, White-breasted Nuthatches, Mountain Chickadees, Pink-sided Juncos, American Robins, Common Ravens, and more Townsend's Solitaires. 

The Nighthawk Trail winds down in elevation, as the landscape drastically changes from pine and juniper forests with granite outcroppings and meadows to the shrubs and sandstone of the lower foothills elevation.  As we neared the Hall Ranch trailhead, there was a grove of junipers in a drainage where we saw American Robins and a surprise of two Western Scrub-Jays!

Rock Outcroppings in Meadows - by Renee Haip

Cottonwood Trees in Drainage - by Renee Haip

Caterpillar - by Renee Haip

Lower Elevation with Juniper Grove and Hogbacks - by Renee Haip

Western Scrub-Jay - by Renee Haip

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