Born 1940, Died 1942
Aspen Park, Colorado N 39° 31.996 W 105° `16.703
Mount Lugo was a victim of war – World War 2, to be exact.
It was started on the north slopes of Mount Legault by Covert Hopkins, a man who helped found Watson’s Ski Hill a few miles to the east. It operated only two seasons, with a horse-drawn sleigh pulling skiers from the parking lot to the base of the 1,200-foot long rope tow. Little is remembered about this area, other than it did not open for a third season because wartime gas rationing prevented skiers from driving to the mountain.
It is located on Meyer Ranch Park of the Jefferson County Open Space park system, so what is left of the slope can be accessed, and even skied, provided you are skilled enough to dodge aspen tress on the way down. Just find “Old Ski Run Trail” on the Meyer Ranch trail map and hike to it. As you ascend the hiking trail, you can see a wide lane of aspen tress up slope from the trail. In the 75 years that have elapsed since the ski run was cut, the aspens have matured, so you will need to look closely to detect the ski run.
The cache is located about 350 feet up the slope from where the aspen “lane” intersects the trail. It is a strenuous climb, with lots of rocks and fallen trees. Still, it is an easier approach than higher up on Old Ski Run Trail, where you will have to leave the trail near the lollipop intersection and head west across some rock outcroppings to reach the cache area. Be forewarned there is considerable GPS bounce because of the steep slope and the trees. It took me three visits before I felt confident the coordinates were accurate and would lead to the cache.
Your reward for finding the cache is the beautiful aspen glade at the heart of an evergreen forest, deep within the less-traveled areas of Meyer Ranch Open Space. For that reason, Mount Lugo is probably my favorite of the ten areas in this series.
As a bonus, the old rope tow’s bull wheel and cable are only about 70 feet west of the cache. I have included some pictures of the lift’s remains on my web page (see related web page link at the top of this page), so you will know what you are looking for.
I haven’t located the tow’s motor (which reportedly remains in the park) or the base of the tow. Bonus points to anyone who does. Of course, please keep in mind these are archaeological ruins within a public park and take nothing but pictures (or trinkets from the cache).
Believe it or not, one adventurer has written a guide book to the “Powder Ghost Towns” of Colorado. He includes a few pages on Mount Lugo and a map of potential routes. The author concludes “you won’t have an epic day here, but it is a nice casual outing close to Denver.”
He also notes that it takes quite a few dumps along the Front Range to make this area skiable. On my first visit, in mid-March, the snow was thigh-deep at many places on the mountain, at a time when there was barely any snow on the ground in central Evergreen.
The old-timers may not have had much to work with at these lower elevations, but they seemed to know the few spots where the slope angle and orientation would maximize the snow depth and coverage throughout the winter.
Powder Ghost Towns: Epic Backcountry Runs in Colorado’s Lost Ski Resorts. Peter Bronski. Wilderness Press. Berkeley, CA. 2008