We were only on forest service road 401 for a short distance before we found Piney Ridge at forest service road 441. There were lots of people camping near the trailhead, and we passed through two big boulders and a group camping before we were on our way. The gate was closed so we went through it and closed it behind us. Then things got interesting.
It had rained quite a bit not too long before we got there, so everything was a bit loose and slippery. Luckily, it was drying out quickly so no one slid around very much. The trail was almost always climbing, so when we found a flat spot on the trail we stopped to take in the sights. Piney Ridge was right next to us and it made some great scenery.
The last few hill climbs were a blast. They were almost always rocky and pretty steep in sections. The day had been pretty mellow so far, so we were all really enjoying this part. We got lucky, and we were doing it all in the uphill direction. It would be fun in the other direction, too, but uphill is always more fun.
When we got to the top of the hill climb we found some people camping. They had a nice, shiny truck so we assumed that the other half of the trail would be pretty mellow. It wasn't easy, but it was much easier than what we had found on the first half.
When we got to the spur that takes you up to the top of Piney Ridge we got out to have a discussion. There were so many mosquitoes, and we were glad we weren't camping up there. Ben was planning on heading back to Denver, so he was concerned that the spur would take a while. We also wanted to check out some more trails in the area, so we decided to skip the spur to the top of the ridge this time. We knew we couldn't finish everything before the day ended, so we'd be back. Piney Ridge would be a priority.
We kept going, and it wasn't long before we got to the end of the trail. We checked the time and tried to figure out what was the best way out. We were on the big Sheephorn Creek loop, and we turned right first. Then Monica decided it would be faster to go the other way, so we turned around and headed out in the other direction, instead. In the end, if we would have stuck with our original plan it would have meant a shorter day, but then we wouldn't have seen High Trail. Everything works out in the end.