The Rich Creek / Rough and Tumbling Hiking loop is one of the most high density Colorado nature experience trails I’ve been on. There are stands of Aspens, forests of Lodgepole Pines, meadows of wildflowers, streams and rivers with tons of fishing thanks to the beaver dams.
The loop itself is about 12 miles and some people definitely do it as a day hike. We set up a tent about 2/3 of the way around and hiked up for some great views of the Collegiate mountain range. There are a lot of opportunities to get some serious vertical hiking in the area, but only about 1,000 vertical feet if you want to keep to the trail. We saw Beavers, Moose, Pikas, Marmots, brook trout, and tons of birds. There were lots of good spots to set up a tent and enjoy the view at various distances down the trail.
Best of all there were not too many people wandering around. I didn’t see a single dog poop bag on the trail, and only a few little spots where someone lost a wrapper or some other trash. People really respected the “leave no trace” philosophy.
Getting there was fairly easy. It was about 2 hours of driving on 285 from Denver. There are a few trailheads that serve the trail system but we picked the Rich Creek Trailhead, just outside of Fairplay. It isn’t too hard to find, just head south out of Fairplay and hang a right on Colorado Road 5. After 7 miles of what eventually becomes dirt road, take a right on Colorado Road 22. The trailhead is on the left and well marked about 3 miles later.