With a little research the nimble hiker was able to find two hiking areas in the mountains just south of Casper. On Saturday we did the longest and most difficult of the two, a five miler in Rotary Park that begins at the base of Casper Mountain. This little park is located at the mouth of a canyon created by a couple of streams that merge into one just above a nice waterfall. A series of trails along either side of the canyon allow you to enjoy a hike of any length, although all trails come with sharp elevation gains.
We started out by hiking up a short trail to the base of Bridle Falls.
Look closely at the base of the falls in the photo below and you can see a young man standing under the falls. Turns out his father offered him $10 to stand there.
After checking out the falls we began hiking up a trail on the west side of the canyon. At points where two trails intersected there is a map mounted on a pole designating the location and the elevation of that spot. We didn’t find the people of Casper to be of above average height, but there must be many tall hikers around here somewhere as each location sign was mounted a bit high up on the pole.
This marker gave us a warning of what to come in the statement “steep trail ahead – 15% grade.”
They weren’t kidding about the steep grade. The trail went sharply up for about a half mile before entering a series of switchbacks with a more reasonable gain in elevation.
The trail leveled off at the top and we soon came to a formation appropriately called Split Rock.
The trail crosses the main creek before it heads back down the east side of the canyon.
As the trail heads back down the canyon it goes through an area containing a couple of cabins. Someone in one of the cabins must be an avid dog lover.
Just past the treat area we came to a short side trail that led to a nice bench next to a stream. The perfect place for lunch!
As we enjoyed our lunch some hikers passed by with two dogs. Do they look a bit familiar?
The trail continued down the east side of the canyon with great views of Casper in the distance.
We passed through a number of open areas filled with colorful spring flowers.
We began this hike with no expectations, as the information on it was a bit vague. But it turned out to be a great hike with a challenging gain in elevation and beautiful scenery.
Today (Sunday) we drove south to another mountain range, Muddy Mountain. To get there we drove back south over Casper Mountain, across an open valley, and up to the Muddy Mountain Environmental Education Center (elev. 8,200′).
The Muddy Mountain Environmental Education Area has a series of short, easy trails with 28 interpretive signs providing information about the surrounding “flora and fauna.” Two overlooks provide great views of the valley below. We hiked all the trails for a total distance of three miles. There are also two small primitive campgrounds on either side of the trail area.
We really enjoyed our short stay in Casper. It is a very nice little city and we found the people to be extremely friendly. Tomorrow we head a hundred miles to the north for an extended stay in the small town of Buffalo.
More on that later . . .