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A Weekend in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area of Colorado

Fall Colors, Quiet Hiking and Downhill Biking

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Adventure Feet First - Weekend in Flat Tops Wilderness - Trail

A Western Slopes Getaway

We live in one of the Colorado Rocky Mountain epicenters of outdoor adventures. It’s kind of amazing if I’m being honest! However, this means we get an influx of adventurous tourists year round with only the preferred adventure changing. This also means we tend to seek out the lesser known areas for our own adventures. This year we opted to spend our fall road trip weekend in the Flat Tops Wilderness Area, located on the western slopes of the Colorado Rocky Mountains. The Flat Tops Wilderness is a bit further north than the better known parts of the western slopes…but it is gorgeous, even when there’s a smokey haze. 

COVID Cautious...While Traveling

It was very important to me that we kept every aspect of this weekend away as COVID cautious as possible. As someone living in a small community with limited medical resources I am hyper aware of how I may impact other communities with similar limitations. On one level…these small communities will likely hurt more from an outbreak. On another level…these small communities truly rely on tourism. So we opted for something in the middle. We stayed in local accommodations with a fully kitchen, wore masks when there was any chance of coming into contact with people and generally avoided any interactions with locals or visitors. This felt a bit surreal for me as I tend to truly enjoy my interactions with the locals…especially via a morning stop at a coffee shop. 

Ultimately, this compromise we created felt safe and responsible to us. We did venture into the grocery store for forgotten butter and chat with a tiny home neighbor. She ventured out a bit more than we did so I’m sharing some of her local recommendations for places to visit if you’d like to stop for a meal or latte. With a little planning ahead you can easily follow COVID precautions in smaller communities.

Our Flat Tops Weekend Itinerary

Day One

Hiking in Meeker, CO

We arrived in Meeker after a few hours in the car. It was scenic but we were all ready to stretch our legs a bit! We checked into our tiny home at Trail and Hitch then headed a few miles into Meeker to hit the trails. Over the weekend we hit up a few trails near Meeker:

All of these trails were easily accessible and dog friendly [on leash!]. Our dog, Max, has hips issues that make technical hiking very challenging. The Meeker Trail System was great for him while the Trappers Lake trails got pretty rocky.

Day Two

Biking in Meeker, CO

Fall in Colorado is known for epic mountain biking. We had our aging dog with us on this trip which throws a few wrenches into getting the bikes onto the trail, but we still packed the bikes. After a day of hiking and a few morning wanders we felt comfortable leaving our dog in the tiny home for a few hours on the trails. We headed out onto the Meeker Flow Trail, which we accessed from the Sanderson Hills Park.

This flow trail is only about a half mile long but it packs a LOT into a short stretch of single track. We had our cross country bikes which helped on the mile ride up to the top of the flow, but downhill bikes would have been fun on the flow descent! As a fairly new downhill biker I found the Meeker Flow Trail to definitely be intermediate…but also ride-able if you take the time to ride around the bigger obstacles.

Day Three

Road Tripping the Flat Tops

We took the scenic route…everywhere. On our drive to Meeker we added an extra hour of driving for leaf peeping. As we headed home we opted for an even more scenic route, adding about two hours of driving. Both routes were completely worth it!

These are some of the roads we roamed searching for mountains covered in fall colors:

We used pull outs to grab snacks and snap pictures and even explored a few forest service roads on foot [ya know, to walk the dog…or me].

*County Road 8 is about 80 miles long with over 50% of the road being gravel. It is maintained, but be prepared for much slower speeds and variable conditions.

More About Meeker

Where to Stay

We stayed at the Hidden Valley tiny home which is one of give tiny homes available at the Trail and Hitch RV Park and Tiny Home Hotel. We wanted a place where we could be fully self-contained. This home had a full kitchen, WiFi access and a private bathroom with shower. It also allowed our dog to stay with us [with a $25/stay fee]. This was not our first time staying in a tiny home, so we knew what to expect — tiny living!

That is exactly what it delivered. It was private, quiet and met all our needs [with very minor exceptions…such as a knife capable of cutting a watermelon!].

Trail and Hitch is located just north of Meeker at the start of the Flat Tops Trail Scenic Byway. It was easy to pop into town for trails or food and allowed us to escape from the world…unless we wanted to turn on WiFi. The cell service was a bit lacking, but WiFi was fairly dependable.

Where to Eat

As I mentioned earlier, we were fairly self-contained on this weekend getaway. Aside from a quick stop by Watt’s Ranch Market to snag butter we didn’t spend much time in the town of Meeker. This was primarily due to our personal COVID precautions. However, I did ask around at Trail and Hitch to get some solid recommendations, from both locals and visitors. Here are a few spots they deemed “must visit”…

Honestly, writing this now has me nostalgic for small town eateries…

Road Tripping...Close To Home

This little weekend getaway only took us a few hours from our home…which was perfect! It was just far enough to demand we disconnect but close enough that we could easily slip away for the weekend. We were able to reset and take on the coming week with a bit more ambition.

Not everyone is just a few hours from the small mountain town of Meeker, but don’t let that keep you at home. If you want to make a longer trip of it, do it! Meeker is an excellent basecamp for adventures into the Flat Top Wilderness Area. I can help make any adventure into the Flat Tops or beyond stress-free and easy for you. All you need to do is check out the adventure itineraries I offer and reach out!

Also, if you’re not close to Meeker but are in search of a close-to-home adventure, let’s chat. I create personalized adventure itineraries all around the United State [and sometimes beyond!].  I would love to the one that helps you find adventure in a place you hadn’t thought to look!

Heidi Berghammer

Heidi is the founder of Adventure Feet First and the Creator of Experiences. She is the brains and legs behind all of the adventures created here at Adventure Feet First. This means she thinks up the itineraries and when they’re even remotely close to home she is the one out there scouting the routes, campsites and local businesses. As a trail running, bikepacker and overall adventure seeker Heidi is definitely the person you want creating your adventures!

"So lovely was the loneliness of a wild lake."

- Edgar Allan Poe

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