I’m a planner. I make lists. I’ve learned that if we don’t make a plan, our days off run the risk of slipping away. Besides, the planning and preparation is all part of the fun.

This past Memorial Day Weekend, I let go and let my husband do things his way- loose and list-less. And it all worked out, despite one minor little hiccup.

Court’s childhood buddy would be in Denver so we left the weekend open to ensure we could meet up. (These two became fast friends when they both wore Dukes of Hazard belt buckles the first day of kindergarten.)

We met up for a Rockies/Cardinals baseball game and made plans to hike on Sunday. Due to scheduling and proximity, Court decided the Boulder area would be best. He researched the night before and picked the Forsythe Canyon Trail that leads to the northwestern portion of Gross Reservoir, just south of Boulder.


Despite the holiday weekend and perfect hiking weather, we had no problem finding a parking spot though it was definitely busy. The kid-friendly trail is a 2-mile round-trip jaunt, mostly shaded and mostly downhill on the way in. (Which also means it was slightly uphill on the way back, which means it was mostly whining from L for the second half.)


The trail follows Forsythe Creek and about three quarters of the way features a waterfall. After the falls we had to make a decision- turn around or do some bouldering with a six year old and a two year old on my back. I wouldn’t have given it a second thought if it was just Court and I but with the kiddos, it gave me pause. We decided to go for it.


It definitely required optimal family cooperation and was probably the cause for a sore neck and back, but we were rewarded with a sandy beach and rocky cove that opened up to the reservoir that is owned and managed by Denver Water.

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But don’t bring your swimsuits. ‘No Swimming’ signs are posted due to injuries sustained by visitors who jump off the surrounding rocks. We also saw some questionable slime along the shoreline that kept us from even wanting to dunk our toes.

Photo Credit: L

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The only thing missing were our friends we intended to hike with.

Lessons Learned…

1. Meet your Hiking Party Prior to Losing Cell Service (and it’s helpful to know the vehicles each other will be driving)

As we well know, there is no cell service in these gorgeous canyons that lie to our west. But for this casual meet-up we had just set a time and place. So we waited around at the trailhead for a while, but decided to go ahead and start, not sure if our friends were going to make it and no way to confirm. We figured at our pace, if they showed up we’d run into them on the trail. But that’s if we went the same distance on the trail. When we ran into them as we returned to the lot we found out they’d arrived late and did the trail but turned around at the waterfall. I was reminded of those math problems in high school with the two trains traveling at different speeds leaving at different times… I was never very good at those… Although we didn’t get to hike together, luckily we didn’t let the mishap keep any of us from enjoying the trail and gorgeous spring weather.


2. Stash Warmer Clothes in the Car

You never know what the day the will bring. Afternoon rainstorms can pop up out of nowhere or the group you’re with can decide to head to Nederland and have dinner and brews on a patio. Lightweight rain jackets aren’t that warm. Luckily we had blanket in the car for the kiddos, but I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t jealous of all the other adults with their long pants and fleece jackets.

3. Sometimes it’s Nice to Let Go

Being the planner of the family also means if things don’t go quite right you feel personally responsible. Even if you know no one cares, and everything works out in the end, you can’t help it. (How did I forget the syrup for our camping pancake breakfast last weekend??) So when the opportunity arises to take a break and let others take the wheel, take advantage and sit back and make the memories. Despite not hiking the trail along side our friends, we all met up, had a great (albeit chilly) dinner and a wonderful visit.


The Details: Forsythe Canyon Trail to Gross Reservoir, just south of Boulder

Drive Time: From Fort Collins, it took approx. 2 hours, see link below to get driving directions and make sure you save them and bring a map, especially if you are not familiar with the area

Trail Distance: 2 miles total in and out

Designated Rating: Easy

Toddlerado Rating: Easy for adults, some bouldering at the end that made it more difficult with a six year old and a two year old in the carrier

Highlights: Shady, not too crowded even on Memorial Day Weekend

Lowlights: A little tricky to see where the actual trail led at the end, had to send Court ahead to see if he could tell we were going the right way

Usage: Light, the fact we had no trouble finding a parking spot on a holiday weekend with perfect weather makes it a great option

Amenities: Vaulted toilet at trailhead, no water

Camping: We saw multiple groups carrying gear in, obviously heading for an overnight adventure. According to USDA Forest Service website camping is allowed at designated sites along National Forest System Road 359.

Would we go back? Yes. The wilderness just outside Boulder isn’t that far but an area we have definitely under-utilized.

Visit Denver Water and USDA Forest Service websites for additional info

Photo Credit: L