Ranger Meadows Loop – 4.3mi / 6.9km
This quiet loop combines the scenic Shadow Mountain Lake with the serene, open Ranger Meadows.
The trail begins by the Green Ridge Campground where you’ll cruise through sagebrush meadows to the dam. You’ll get unimpeded views as you cross over the dam, with the Colorado River exiting the lake beneath you. Begin the loop on the far side of the dam where you’ll stay left, hugging the shoreline. Much of the forest that you’re passing through has been greatly impacted by the pine beetle, but the lake is beautiful.
At the signed junction, leave the lake and head into the forest. A wayward creek may make the path submerged, so be prepared to remove your shoes or get them wet. This, however is the gateway to the open, Ranger Meadows. From here on out, you bounce between wide meadows of cinquefoil and sagebrush, or more marshy meadows. Take a right at the sign for Shadow Mtn Dam, to go up and over a gentle rise through the trees. Stay straight to close the loop.
For a longer day, stay straight at the sign for the dam on the faint trail to follow the Colorado River down to Columbine Bay (see Columbine Bay in 0-5 Miles for description).
Trailhead: At the south end of Shadow Mountain Lake, turn east onto County Road 66 to Green Ridge Campground. Follow the road past the campground and onto the gravel road to the trailhead.
Elevation Gain: 250ft / 75m – Elevation Loss: 250ft / 75m