Going Wild Series (Part II)
Planning Your Trip
Do you know
how many designated wilderness areas there are in
We are not
We draw many trip ideas from, The Complete Guide to Colorado’s Wilderness Areas, by John Fielder. This book has a chapter for all 48 wilderness areas with maps, photos, trail descriptions and recommended trips. Start with Fielder’s book (or one like it for your state) to get a feel for the possibilities.
The first step is to define your trip parameters. What kind of experience are you looking for? What are your constraints? I will show how we do it by pre-planning a trip we have placed on our list for next summer. Here we go!
1. Objectives and Parameters for the Trip:
Ø 4 full days (3 nights)
Ø Any time after July 15 (high-country clear of snow) and before the girls start school
Ø Close enough to drive, pack in and reach our 1st campsite well before dark
Ø Lakes and/or steams with good fishing, good water and nice meadows
Ø No horse rides of more than 3 hours (continuous riding)
Ø Spectacular scenery, watchable wildlife and wilderness solitude
3. I go to my Colorado Road Atlas (1:160,000
topographical) and see that that Rainbow Lakes is just east of the continental
divide located in the Routt National Forest due east of Walden, Colorado.  I see that there are 3 lakes (
Ø Up early (4:00 AM) – good breakfast
Ø Feed/load horses & gear (5:00 – 6:30 AM)
Ø Dirt roads, Walden to Trailhead 15 miles (9:30 – 10:15)
Ø Saddling, loading packs, lunch and some flex time (on the trail by 12:00 noon)
Ø 5 miles to the main lake plus time to look around for an ideal camp (2 hours)
Ø Set up camp at a relaxed pace (1 hour)
Ø Swimming, fishing or taking a nap by mid-afternoon
The timing and logistics for this trip work with room to spare!
4. Fielder’s book has an important comment. He mentions that the short easy hike to the
5. What’s the fishing like? For this, we go to the “Fish Bible,” Official
Colorado Fishing Guide, by Kip Carey.
This is an amazing book! It has
information about every river, stream and lake in
6. Now I go to “Google Earth” on the computer
and zoom in on satellite images of the
7. Sometime before the trip, I will go by REI and purchase a National Geographic Trails Illustrated map for the Mount Zirkel Wilderness Area ($8.00). These are the best wilderness trail maps available and they are waterproof. This is the map we will take with us on the trip.
8. Lastly, a week or two before we go, I will call the Walden Office for the Routt National Forest and ask to speak with the field ranger in charge of Rainbow Lakes area. These rangers are very friendly and anxious to help. I will lay out my trip plan and ask for advice and updates about trail conditions. The local field ranger has usually been over the trail recently and can tell you exactly what to expect. They can also tell you about any fire and/or stock regulations that may apply.
Our pre-planning is done.
The final article in this “Going Wild” Series (Part III) will be “On the Trail.” We will share things have learned for managing the horses and making the trip safe, fun and easy.
 We have
now found similar reference books for
 This is a large Atlas with 100 detailed topographical maps covering the State. They are available at any sporting goods store and most travel convenience centers.
 You can find Kip Carey’s Official Colorado Fishing Guide at REI.