Trail of the Week: Beall Trail (with video)

I think Mother Nature intentionally leaves yellow wildflowers for last. She eases us into fall with golden rod, tansy and asters.

The late-summer flowers pop up when the grass around them is brown and other wildflowers have long faded. The August blooms provide one last dose of summer while warning us the aspen will soon turn the entire landscape yellow.

Beall Trail on the backside of Emerald Mountain has evidence of the first sign of fall everywhere. Trailside bushes have gone red and young aspen show tinges of yellow. Ferns are browning and temperatures are cooling. The morning light cast down through yellow-tinted leaves, casting a warm glow on the earth.

I didn’t feel the need to start up Beall Trail very early last weekend, since it was below 50 degrees when I woke up. Usually I prioritize an early start since Dallas, my all-black lab mix, tends to get hot, especially when he wears his hiking backpack.

A grove of old aspen guard a section along Beall Trail.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

The trail begins on the southern-most end of Routt County Road 45. There is a gravel parking lot just south of the previous trailhead, where there is no parking. The trail begins at the lot and soon meets up with the original trail.

The path climbs slightly up a drainage gully before turning up into the woods. The climb is pretty gradual and there are sections of ups and downs on the ascent. The very beginning is open, passing by a murky green pond, but the rest is mostly in the woods, shaded by massive spruce. Some sections work through a grove of scrub oak and low growth bushes and ferns.

My favorite part was a section of old growth aspen. The darker conifers stop and in a warm-lit patch of forest, dozens of foot-wide aspens stood in all their glory. They were some of the largest I’ve ever seen. It’s crazy to imagine that each tree, or stem, could be more than 100 years old, but the grove could be thousands of years old, since aspens are clones of the original tree.

A scrub oak towers over Beall Trail.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Emerald is a hotspot for wildlife encounters, but we saw nothing but chipmunks and squirrels. Dallas’ ears perked up each time a chipmunk dashed across the trail ahead of us.

The birds were chatty too, catching up with each other before embarking on a long journey to warmer weather.

One of the beauties of Beall Trail is it can be a long hike or a short hike. The whole trail is about 6.5 miles long and meets up with Ridge Trail, Wild Rose, and Lane of Pain. Dallas and I made it about 3.5 miles up, making for a 7 mile round trip. We turned around not long before the trail goes under the power lines. We stopped on a rock to eat some snacks.

A spiderweb glistens in the morning light along Beall Trail.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

Dallas munched on some protein-heavy treats and I poured some water into his popup bowl. There’s no water on this trail, so make sure to pack some for yourself and your hiking buddies.

Beall has a little bit of everything for everyone. Sunshine, shade, huge trees, curly ferns, and views of the south valley.

Evidence of fall can be found along Beall Trail.
Shelby Reardon/Steamboat Pilot & Today

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