Under crystal clear, 80-degree noontime skies in mid-May 2012, we set off on the Coulson Gulch trail (known as the deadly sterile and utterly unromantic “916” trail by the bureaucrats at the National Forest Service). Easy, often level, sandy trail hike with several moderate ups and downs, as it crosses several dry stream beds through a relatively narrow, wooded valley. Nine miles round trip but could be easily made shorter as this is an out and back spur trail, not a loop. The first portion of the trail takes the hiker through a quiet pine forest. Eventually, the path joins the very pleasant North St Vrain Creek, which is a highly scenic whitewater creek passing through a very photogenic canyon. The creek provides many secluded swimming holes of ice cold, clear water — great for skinny dipping after a hot day of hiking (which, of course, we did). The trail passes a historic old, roofless cabin still containing a rusty old bedspring and stove. Big Elk Meadow is another highly scenic meadow that this trail passes through.
The trail is west of Lyons off Hwy 36. The trail gets very little use, which provides for a quiet, secluded experience.
The trailhead starts at 7,700 feet of elevation.
This link is a YouTube video of the photos I shot during our hike: