Sunday, August 4, 2013

The Narrow Gauge Trail and A Ghost Town……and a bit of dancing in the Park (in Salida)

Thursday, August 1, 2013 -  Today we decided to explore the Chalk Creek area, hiking the Narrow Gauge Trail, then driving on down the road to walk the streets of the ghost town, St. Elmo.

This trail follows an old narrow gauge railroad route that ran from Nathrop (the town where our campground is located) to St. Elmo, an old mining town.This trail follows a section of the railroad bed  for an easy out and back route running 2.2 miles each way, along the north side of Chalk Creek Canyon and ending up at Cascade Falls.


Trails like this are a delight…..good footing and a gentle slope….and beautiful! We walked and enjoyed the morning.

You never know what you might see along the way…….


This little waterfall was marked by an arrow on the trail.

Before too very long (maybe just over an hour of walking) we heard the roar of the Falls, a sure sign that we were just about at our destination…..


Cascade Falls! Lovely, cool, clear water roaring down the canyon……


A perfect place for a rest break…….After enjoying Cascade Falls, we headed back the way we had come. The road back always seems shorter, somehow.

Back in our car, we drove on another 9.5 miles, some of it dirt road, to the town of St. Elmo. Along the way, we passed many trailers with ATV’s and realized that an extensive ATV trail system ran through this area.

St. Elmo, established in 1880, had once been a thriving mining town, with a population of 2,000 at its peak. After the mining went from boom to bust, the town dwindled to just a handful of permanent residents, though the buildings and property are still privately owned, and many are being renovated and preserved.


I think that we had expected to wander the lonely streets….alone….in this ghost town. But, There were actually quite a few people with the same idea…..including several ATV touring groups. I had to really be patient to get these pictures without the ‘hustle and bustle’ of other sightseers.


These old buildings were really neat. One can only imaging a town with a post office, general store, a dental office (!), a shoemaker, a blacksmith and just about anything else one might need.



Residences along a side street……IMG_2642

Each with an outhouse in the back.Now THAT would be  a cold trip in the winter!

After walking the streets of St. Elmo, we drove into Salida, a fair sized town just about 9 miles south of our campground. We spent the afternoon looking around Salida. It was threatening rain, and I did not want to chance getting my camera wet, so….no pictures…..but a wonderful time! And, the rain held off and the skies cleared up!  

Salida has a number of really neat little shops and restaurants. We ate an early dinner at the Fritz (my sister, Sally’s recommendation) and had a delicious burger. Then we settled in at the Riverside park to listen to a local band that was performing for a free outdoor concert series being held on Thursday evenings through the summer.

The band was the J.P. Smith band……a group of older gentleman (that is to say, our age) playing guitars and drums -  easy listening rock music, CCR, even stretching it to Elvis and a bit of Van Halen. Good music for dancing in the park….though, in truth, it was a pretty laid back audience, and I think that we  may have been the only ones dancing……   : )

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