Take a walk through history on this 4.3-mile lasso loop that tours Caribou Ranch, home to the 19th-century Blue Bird Mine and the site of a '70s-era recording studio that brought Elton John to town. The well-marked, easy-going trail makes for scenic hiking year-round, and if you visit during the week, you may have the place to yourself.
From the large parking area, follow the DeLonde Trail through a forest of ponderosa pines and intermittent aspen groves. After half a mile, the trail opens up, offering beautiful views of the surrounding mountains before merging onto old railroad grade. At mile 1.2, bear right at the trail fork for a tour of the renovated DeLonde Homestead. Once you've checked out the house, barn, and creek-side overlook, hop on the Blue Bird Loop, which travels north past a spur trail to the Blue Bird Mine. After 2.3 miles, the path merges back onto railroad grade and reconnects with the DeLonde Trail for the return trip to the trailhead.
Note: Caribou Ranch is closed April 1 through June 30 to protect migratory birds and elk calving and rearing.
-Mapped by Sarah Curry, Ben Fullerton, and Kim Phillips
- Distance: 6.9
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From the trailhead head northwest on the DeLonde Trail (marked with blue blazes). Pass a handicap accessible picnic table on the right shortly after the trailhead.
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Beyond the trees on the right, catch a glimpse of a nearby peak, then continue on the well-maintained trail.
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Emerge from the woods into a small meadow (the first of several you'll encounter on the hike).
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The trail merges onto the Switzerland railroad grade for a flat stretch of hiking.
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Stop and read the interpretive sign for some background on the Switzerland Trail. In the early 1900's, the Denver, Boulder & Western Railroad used this route to service the Blue Bird Mine.
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The first view of Caribou Ranch can be seen through an opening on the right.
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Bear right @ Y-junction toward the historic DeLonde Homestead, which includes a renovated red barn and brown house.
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Turn right onto a side trail for up-close views of the homestead.
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Delonde Homestead: Read the interpretive sign that sits in front of the house. Next continue southeast to a small overlook.
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This overlook area features a picnic table and views of Delonde Creek. Next, return to Waypoint 8 and bear right @ 3-way junction onto the Blue Bird Loop.
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Pass a sign by the trail that details the wildlife in the area: deer, elk, coyote, and mountain lions. Continue to follow the blue blazes through the forest.
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At the fork, bear left to continue on the Blue Bird Loop. If you have time, bear right to visit the Blue Bird Mine, named for blue azurite (0.2 miles round-trip).
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The path merges onto the Switzerland railroad grade. Follow the wide and gentle path to the southwest.
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Take in one more beautiful view across the golden meadows and forests. Follow the path back to the DeLonde Trail at Waypoint 7, then retrace your route back to the trailhead.
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The trail crosses an open field before the homestead.
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A quick peek at the mountains on the DeLonde Trail.
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The trail follows old railroad grade.
Views of the Red Barn
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DeLonde Homestead Sign
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View of the DeLonde Homestead
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Return Trip on the DeLonde Trail
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