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Colorado State Parks

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USA Parks
Northwest Region
Colorado State Forest
Colorado State Forest River Moss © Oletha Henderson
River Bank at Lair O Bear Park near Kittredge, CO August 2011
Colorado State Forest © Mike Ross
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746 Jackson County Road 41
Walden, Colorado   80480

Phone: 970-723-8366
Reservations: 970-723-8366
The Colorado State Forest is a 71,000 acres (290 km2) forest located in Jackson County in the U.S. state of Colorado. Trees in the Colorado State Forest include Engelmann Spruce and Subalpine Fir in areas of higher elevation, and Lodgepole Pine and Quaking Aspen at the mid and lower elevations.

The Colorado State Forest was officially established on 2 December 1938 by President Franklin Roosevelt.
History of the Area
Colorado State Forest is located in north-central Colorado and is often referred to as the "Never Summer Mountains." Its rich history dates back to the time of indigenous Native American tribes, such as the Ute and Arapaho, who used the region for hunting grounds.

The history of the forest is characterized by the influx of settlers during the late 19th century. With the discovery of gold and silver in Colorado, particularly during the Colorado Gold Rush of the 1850s, the area surrounding Colorado State Forest experienced a rapid increase in population. However, the harsh winter climate and rugged terrain made sustainable settlement difficult.

In the early 20th century, efforts were made to protect the land as a state forest. The Colorado State Forest was established in 1970 and encompasses approximately 41,000 acres of diverse terrain, including alpine tundra, subalpine forests, and montane ecosystems.

The region is also known for its logging heritage. During the early 20th century, extensive logging occurred in the area to provide timber for the growing mining industry and the construction of railroads. However, unsustainable logging practices led to deforestation and environmental degradation in the region.

Efforts to restore and manage the forest began in the 1950s. The Colorado State Forest initiated reforestation projects, including planting spruce, fir, and pine trees. These efforts aimed to restore the forest and enhance its ecological value as well as provide recreational opportunities for visitors.

Today, Colorado State Forest offers various recreational activities, including hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, wildlife viewing, and winter sports like skiing and snowshoeing. The forest's diverse ecosystems provide habitat for a wide range of wildlife species, including moose, elk, mule deer, black bears, and numerous bird species.

Colorado State Forest continues to be managed by the Colorado State Forest Service and Colorado Parks and Wildlife, ensuring the preservation and sustainable use of this important natural area for current and future generations.
 Hiking Trailyes
 Swimming Beachyes
 Bike Trailsyes
 Bridle Trailsyes
BoatingLaunch Rampsyes
 Electric Sitesyes
1. State Forest State Park: This park offers over 40 primitive campsites, dispersed camping options and cabins for rent.

2. North Michigan Reservoir Campground: Located within the state forest, this campground has sites available on a first-come-first-served basis with picnic tables, fire grates and vault toilets.

3. Bockman Campground: It is located in high-country setting at an elevation of approximately 9,500 feet near Gould town center offering both RV & tent campgrounds along with yurts rental option as well.

4. Crags Campground: A more secluded area that provides great opportunities to view wildlife like moose or elk while enjoying your stay amidst nature's beauty.

5. Ranger Lakes Campsite: Known for its fishing spots it also features restrooms facilities, drinking water availability etc making it ideal spot especially if you are travelling with family.

6. Dispersed Camping: For those who prefer solitude can opt for backcountry camping which allows visitors to set up their tents anywhere they want following certain rules.

7. Yurt Rentals: The Never Summer Nordic Yurts provide unique lodging experience inside Colorado state forest where one gets chance to enjoy panoramic views from comfort of these cozy accommodations.

8. Cabins/Cottages: Several rustic style cabins/cottages are scattered throughout the park providing basic amenities such as beds,stove etc but guests need bring own linens,sleeping bags,pots/pans/utensils.

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1. American Lakes Trail: This 6.4-mile trail is moderately trafficked and offers a variety of activities, including hiking, camping, fishing and snowshoeing in winter months.

2. Clear Lake State Wildlife Area Trails: These trails cover approximately 5 miles through diverse landscapes such as meadows filled with wildflowers to dense forests leading up to the serene lake itself.

3. Gould Loop Trail: A short but scenic loop that covers around two miles within Colorado State Forest's boundaries; it provides stunning views over surrounding mountains while passing by several small lakes.

4. Cameron Pass Nordic Ranger Trails: An extensive network of cross:country skiing routes during winters which also serve as excellent trekking paths for summer hikes covering distances from easy half mile loops to challenging ten-mile treks across varied terrains.

5. Michigan River Fishing Access Point Hiking Path: It's an easily accessible path along Michigan river offering beautiful riverside scenery ideal for family outings or casual walks.

6. Bockman Road Campground Nature Walks: Short nature walk options starting right at Bockman campground providing hikers close encounters with local flora & fauna.

7. Ruby Jewel Yurt Approach Route: Roughly five-miles long this route leads you towards Ruby jewel yurt located amidst lush greenery making it perfect choice for overnight backpackers looking forward spending night under stars.

8. Kelly Lake Via Montgomery Pass: Approximately nine miles round trip hike taking one past alpine tundra landscape onto Kelly lake nestled between towering peaks.

9. Agnes Creek Black Mountain Cutoff: Challenging seven mile out:and-back trail featuring steep inclines rewarding climbers panoramic vistas atop black mountain peak.

10. North Diamond Peak via Blue Lake Trailhead: Long strenuous twelve-mile journey traverses multiple ecosystems before culminating on North diamond peak summit boasting breathtaking panoramas encompassing entire state forest region.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
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1. Start by heading west on US:40 W from Walden.
2. Continue driving for approximately 10 miles until you reach County Road 41 (also known as Jackson County Rd 41).
3. Turn left onto County Road 41 and continue for about 5 miles.
4. You will then see signs directing you to turn right onto a gravel road that leads into the state forest.

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Colorado State Parks