I trust Xavier (most of the time), but he has a tendency to remember things a little... off. "It's just a 5 mile hike" = 13 miles in real life. You know, that kind of thing. So when he told me he wanted to camp along Forsythe Canyon Trail outside of Boulder, I was skeptical this was a legit thing because the internet didn't do much to back him up. I am happy to report that Xavier got this one right... sort of. Back country camping is allowed along the trail, but the area we ended up camping in was Winiger Ridge on Forest Road 359.
Winiger Ridge is situated between Nederland and Boulder west of Gross Reservoir. From the Forsythe Canyon Trailhead head down Forest Road 359 on foot or in your car. The non-motorized hiking trail entrance will be on the lefthand side. If you continue down 359 you'll find about 30 designated dispersed camping spots. The road is pretty rouge and bumpy, a bit too much for my Altima, so I recommend an SUV if it's an option.
The distance between each campsite makes it feel a little private, even though tree coverage is spotty. Our closest neighbors were a good bit away up a hill. There is a bathroom at the trailhead, but it's pretty far, so I would go ahead and plan on peeing in the woods. You got this.
Also, fair warning, there is very spotty cell reception, so if you're planning to meet up with friends, make sure you have clear directions and a plan on how to me up. I speak from experience.
If you follow Forest Road 359 all the way, it ends at a parking lot near the lake within short walking distance of Gross Reservoir. The shoreline is rocky, but we made it work. While you can't swim in the water, you can fish, kayak, canoe and hike. Xavier fished (it's stocked with salmon!) most of one afternoon, but the fish didn't bite.
If you're into hiking or biking you could head back the the trailhead and see what Forsyth Canyon Trail has to offer. Paired with the hike from your campsite back to the trailhead, it would probably take up a good chunk of the day. Quite a few people drove their ATVs along Forest Road 359, which I imagine would be pretty exciting with all of the hills.
I really enjoyed staying at Winiger Ridge. Even though it was Fourth of July weekend, and every camping site filled up by 5 on Thursday, it didn't feel overrun. When we went to the lake Friday afternoon, there were plenty of spots to be had along the lake. I imagine on a regular weekend, it would be even less crowded. Scrappy CoCo enjoyed the adventure as well! Dogs are allowed on-leash.
Next time I want to explore a bit more around the lake, see how far I can go, and maybe take a kayak in to enjoy the water. All in all, it was a great place to get away from the city.
- From Denver, take 6th Ave west.
- Continue straight onto CO-93 N.
- Turn left onto CO-72 W/Coal Creek Canyon Rd.
- Take a slight right onto Co Rd 97 (there will be an old fire station on the right).
- Turn right to stay on Co Rd 97.
- Take a slight right on Magnolia (there is a yield sign).
- Turn right onto Co Rd 68. Turn right onto Forest Road 359.