“We’ve been in the car forever!  I hate hiking!”

“There’s too much wind on my face! ERRRRRRGGHEEFE!!” (sound made while arching back in car seat)

Not the sounds or words you want to hear from your 5 year old for whom you just purchased actual hiking boots. And it appears we are now paying for years of excellent car behavior.

It was already afternoon, and unfortunately L did not nap on our way to Lower Dadd Gulch Trail like her sleeping 18 month old sister beside her.

Maybe we’ve been pushing too hard. We’ve hiked a lot lately…

These thoughts along with her sour mood melted away after a pre-hike snack of Gorp. After getting C on my back I took a handful myself and noticed a (not surprising) disproportionate amount of peanuts and raisins to m&ms…


Lower Dadd Gulch trailhead is situated right off of Highway 14 29 miles (about an hour drive up the canyon). It’s a trailhead we’ve passed a million times but never stopped. Honestly it’s always looked a little hot and dusty. But in our quest to get out of our ruts and discover new places we decided to give it a go. Far enough up the canyon to get out of the 90 degree weather in town, but close enough to accommodate our late start- perfect.

Immediately the old Jeep trail was immersed in a thick wood, following a meandering gulch we got to cross multiple times. The path led us up through aspen groves and across meadows where L chased butterflies and picked a few wildflower specimens (just a couple, I promise). But there was still a lot of foot dragging. She just wasn’t feeling it today. All the m&ms in the world would not have gotten her too much farther. We hiked in an hour, approx. 1.5 miles of the 3.6 trail and turned around to make sure we got back to the car without any meltdowns. Hiking with kids, you gotta know when to fold ‘em.

We’ve given up seeing the end of trails this year. It’s what we get right now with an 18 month old on the back and a 5 year old on her own two feet. And sometimes we will average one mile per hour. And that’s okay. We got outside and we found a new great trail. Next time we’ll get an earlier start and avoid that mid afternoon malaise.


The Details

Drive Time: Approx. 1 hour from Fort Collins

Trail Length: 3.6 miles one way- ends at trailhead to junction with Dadd Gulch and Salt Cabin Park Road, we went in 1.5 and turned around

Designated Rating: Moderate

Toddlerado Rating (First 1.5 miles): Easy- the first 1.5 miles had a gradual incline, mostly shaded and L enjoyed crossing the stream multiple times.

Usage: Light- we went on a Saturday and ran into just two other groups

Elevation Gain: 7,024-8,489

Trail Highlights: Butterflies! Kid approved stream crossings! Easy access, trailhead right off of highway 14. Vaulted toilet and additional parking across highway 14.

Trail Lowlights: There are some power lines, not a big deal but kind of an eye sore

Optimal Time of Year: According to the Poudre Wilderness Volunteers website, the trail should be clear of snow by mid May. But as we all know this can vary year to year.

Would we go back? Yes.  We will return this fall, with all the aspens this should be a pretty hike in late September.