A fun lollipop loop with some ups and downs and creek crossings to keep you on your toes.
There are often moose, elk, and deer in the area, which makes this a popular area for hunters in the fall - so make sure you wear bright colors if you hike during hunting season. It's also popular with equestrians, so watch your step.
The Lady Moon Trail #985
opened in 2010 when the Lady Moon Trail was extended south to Boy Scout Road; it seems to get less use than some of the other Red Feather area trailheads.
If you follow the obvious trail to Elkhorn Creek, the calf-deep crossing can be cold. To avoid wading, watch for a social trail to the right just before the willows. A couple of rough boards span a gap between some boulders and keep you high and dry.
After crossing the creek, expect a lot of uphill hiking. The trail is heavily rutted in areas, thanks to springtime runoff. If you remember to look backwards, you might spot a glimpse of the gold top of the Great Stupa at the Shambhala Mountain Center between the trees. If not, watch for it on your way back.
After taking a left to avoid a steep hill, go through a small gate where you might see cattle, pass another gate (you'll go through the second gate on the way back) and arrive at the junction of the north-south Lady Moon Trail #985
and Granite Ridge Trail #991
A sign on the south side of the trail points to Molly Lake Trailhead on Manhattan Road, 2.7 miles away. Follow the sign uphill through another gate and follow the Granite Ridge Trail #991
until you see a sign for Granite Ridge Trail (pointing east-west so you know what trail you're on) followed by a sign for Molly Moon Trail #991-2
Turn right/north onto Molly Moon Trail #991-2
and follow it through some switchbacks to a big meadow near Lady Moon Trailhead and the Red Feather Lakes Road. This section is a blast to hike. Skirt trees on your right, and find your way through the some marshy areas and across a small stream (in spring) to the Lady Moon Trail. If you can't spot it, keep an eye out for a short metal signpost, without a sign on it, to the south of the marshiest areas.
Lady Moon has a few deadfall trees across the path in November 2016, but easy paths around. Head uphill back to the signs for Granite Ridge and Molly Lake, then head away from Molly Lake and right through the first gate you see. Watch for cowpies, and enjoy another fun downhill to the sign for Disappointment Falls 985-2 and Lady Moon 985. Take a left here, with a short downhill stretch before a steep uphill that gets you back to a ridge and familiar trail. From here, it's all downhill.
Moose, elk, deer.