We ran this trail as the sun was going down, right after finishing spending the day on Mount Antero and the spurs off the trail. We figured it wouldn't take long, and we were right. It took us about an hour and 45 minutes and we took a lot of time to check out the lodge, too.
Most of the trail on the way up was very smooth and mellow. You could do it in a car but you'd need to be careful because of low clearance. Soon we ended up behind two other Jeeps, one of them towing a popup trailer. The trailer was bouncing all over but it made it to the top.
They let us go by them at a switchback and we resumed our quick pace to the top. We came out of the trees and saw the last switchback, the one you can see from the highway. It was narrow and a little steep, but not too bad.
At the top we enjoyed the big views of the valley below. You could even make out the parking area at the start of the Chinaman Gulch trail. It was gorgeous.
Walt knew where the lodge was and he pointed out the little hiking trail that takes you there. It was a short walk to the lodge and we were all surprised to see how nice it was.
We've been seeing a lot of cabins and other places lately where people often stay, and they're usually very rugged and not particularly nice. This lodge is a completely different story, though. It has complete walls, doors and windows, with a nice roof. It is very well-maintained.
It's also big enough to sleep quite a few people. We imagined it would get pretty cold at night with all of the open space inside and cement floors, though.
We enjoyed the view from the patio behind the lodge, then we were on our way back down. We were out and back to the parking lot in 30 minutes, airing up.
It was almost dark when we stopped at the Coyote Cantina for dinner (of course). It was a great day and everyone looked a little sunburned -- or was it wind burn? Either way, we all had a fantastic time.