We reached the trailhead at around 11:30AM. Instead of braving the weekend crowd at Chautauqua, we parked in the expensive neighborhoods near 17th and King and started our hike on the Four Pines Trail. This turned out to be a solid choice. Parking was a whole lot easier and the trail itself was less crowded. We really didn't see many other folks until we linked up with the Mesa Trail later on.
The first stretch or Four Pines is relatively steep, so we were huffing and puffing a bit while our legs got used to the effort. But once we branched off onto the Koehler Mesa Trail, the terrain mellowed out significantly and we really got to enjoy the shade of the pines.
Once we linked up with Mesa Trail, it went from quiet and serene to frat-guy-central. I'm not a snob by any means, but it sorta puts a damper on the afternoon when these huge groups of loud college kids go storming around the trails. But that's the price of hiking on the weekend, I suppose.
We didn't encounter any snow or mud the entire afternoon (a testament to the dryness around here the past few weeks), and the final stretch of rocks leading up to the cave was pretty easy to scramble up. It was about 1:15 when we got there. There are bars over the entrance to the cave to protect the bat population from disease, but the view of the Front Range is pretty good from there. We pounded some protein bars and turned around just as a huge group of college kids came bounding up over the rocks. Needless to say we got the heck outta there.
Alex and I made it back to the car by around 3PM. We used trekking poles for extra stability on most of the descent, but they weren't necessary. The West End was calling our name, so we chilled downtown on their rooftop bar with cold drinks and good grub before heading back to the 'burbs.
Springtime in Colorado is just the best.