08 Aug

Fourth of July Trail – Nederland, Colorado

Looking to get outside this weekend and get away from the annoyances of city life? If so, a day hike on the Fourth of July trail is a great way to do it. Its a 5.3 mile loop just outside of Nederland, Colorado that provides hikers with some breathtaking scenery. It’s one of my favorite hikes in the Denver/Boulder area and I think you will agree.


Fourth of July Trail Details


The trail starts at the Forth of July trailhead and ends at beautiful Diamond Lake. The trail is moderate difficulty and there is a lot to see along the way. As you make your accent toward the alpine lake, you will pass a wide variety of scenery including including waterfalls, streams and creeks, and in the summer, an incredible amount of colorful wildflowers.

The highlight of the trail for me is the serene Diamond Lake. It sits at the base of the Continental Divide and the views are spectacular and powerful. It’s a great spot to sit down and enjoy an afternoon picnic or take some time to relax in the cool mountain air.

Instead of writing a long description here, I created a video of the trail for your enjoyment. You can watch it below:




Though the trail isn’t difficult, there is one spot in particular that you need to be aware of, especially if you are afraid of heights or are bringing small children with you. On a day in July, I saw several people turn around because they were intimidated.

Toward the beginning of the trail, there is a waterfall that crosses your path and you need to use step stones to cross it. There is quite a drop off on the south side and it can be intimidating to people afraid of heights. I would recommend bringing trekking poles along with you if you have them.

Finally, this trail gets busy in the summer. If you want to find a parking space, get there early. You also want to make sure you drive a car that has enough clearance underneath it as the road to the trailhead can get bumpy and there are good sized rocks in the road.



ProTrails Details of Fourth of July Trail 



Hiked the Fourth of July Trail before?

Have you hiked the trail before? Let me know your thoughts in the comments!


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29 Jul

Walk the Highlands

Walk the Highlands – The West Highland Way

So you want to walk the highlands of Scotland? Good choice. It’s a beautiful place and it should be on everyone’s bucket list.

I wanted to walk the highlands so I decided to hike the West Highland Way. It’s a 100 mile trek through some of the most beautiful country in the entire UK, ranging from farmland to lochs and mountain ranges.

Walk the Highlands of Scotland

I got the 100 miles done over 6 days and it was a blast. I got to meet a ton of awesome people and the nature and peace the hike brought were incredibly rewarding. I highly recommend this walk to anyone that loves the outdoors.

If you decide to walk the highlands, choosing to do so over 6 days on the  West Highland Way is a great option. Doing the 100 miles over 6 days makes the trail very enjoyable and doesn’t put a lot of pressure on you to make it to your daily destination. It ensures that you have enough time to enjoy a few pints at the end of the day and not be exhausted.

This guide will help you plan your adventure and get the most out of your walk. It’s broken down by segment so you can easily hop to any segment of the trial you want.

All of the days of hike area available below. I hope it is useful in your trip planning!

West Highland Way Review and Photo Guide

Milngavie – Drymen – 12 miles
Drymen – Rowardennan – 15 miles
Rowardennan – Crainlarich – 20 miles
Crainlarich – Inveroran – 15 miles
Inveroran – Kinlochleven – 19 miles
Kinlochleven – Fort William – 16 miles

Other Links

Official Site of the West Highland Way – Useful background information for the walk.

Guidebook  for the West Highland Way – This book was super helpful and was great for planning my walk and also for reference along the way. I recommend picking one up and carrying it along with you.

Share your comments below!

09 Nov

West Highland Way Review

West Highland Way Review

Completing the West Highland Way was a rewarding experience and one I was happy that I had undertaken. It was a pleasurable walk and covered a wide range of scenery as it made its way through the highlands of Scotland.

The Way gave me a nice challenge from time to time and it was never overly difficult. It allowed me to soak in the scenery and not feel pressured to keep moving forward to make it to the next town. I had moments of sore feet from the hard packed military roads, but in general it was pretty easy walking

West Highland Way Trail to Kinlochleven

Trip Planning

I booked everything myself for this trip and did not use a travel service. When I first started planning, I contacted a few companies to get prices and they were pretty expensive, even more for single traveler as they would throw on an extra $40 a day or something crazy for a single occupancy charge.

I booked my reservations in February for September and I had no problem finding places to stay. I used google to find the B&B’s in town and I either contracted them through email or booked the rooms right on their websites. I also booked rooms for the Rowardennan Youth Hostel and the Inverardran Guest House on booking.com.

It took a bit of time and research and plan, but, as you will see below, it was the best decision I made for my trip.

Should I use a travel company?

This is an important question to answer so I want to break it down in detail for you based on my own trip costs.

On average, my room plus a full Scottish breakfast was about $60 a night. As a single hiker, I was able to book 6 nights of accommodations for about $360. I had an additional $75 for baggage handling which brought the main total up to $435 for the week. This included a nights stay in Fort William at the end.

I won’t name any companies here, but here is what it would have cost for me to let a company book my hotel rooms and contact Travel Lite on my behalf (they don’t carry your bags themselves):

Base Cost – £450 – $718
Single Supplement – £25/day for 6 days – $40 day * 6 days = $240
Extra Night in Fort William ~£50 – $80
Total travel company cost – $1038

Do a quick comparison on that.
My Cost – $435
Travel Company – $1038

Total Savings by NOT using a travel company: $603!!!! And thats just for one person!!

My costs were for a single walker, and sometimes I had to pay for a double room. The extra cost was minimal, maybe $20 extra. No where even close to the extra $40 a day the companies want to charge plus the already inflated room rates.

If you were a couple walking the trail and used a travel service, you would have to pay £450 EACH. That would bring the cost up to around $1,450, NOT including a stay in Fort William. Wow…

From the people I talked to on the Way, I was surprised to hear that most people use these services. Having talked to the ones who did, the only real service that anyone mentioned was that they provided a private car to drive them back to a previous town when there were no accommodations available where they wanted to stay.

If you have a lot of extra cash laying around or really don’t want to have to think about planning, use these services. Otherwise, book the trip yourself…seriously…

West Highland Way Flowers


As I mentioned in a previous post, I had Travel Lite carry my main bag from town to town and I just kept a small day pack along with me. Here is how I filled it:

Day Pack Gear List
1. Rain jacket
2. Rain pants
3. Rain cover for backpack
4. Trekking poles
5. First aid kit w/ blister pads
6. Plastic bags for carrying out trash and for keeping electronics dry
7. Camera – DSLR w/ 2 lenses – small lens and a zoom lens
8. Water reservoir (camelback)
9. Food for the day (lunch and snacks)

I was happy with my packing list and I would carry the same gear again. I never had to break out the rain gear as I was extremely lucky to have zero rain on my walk.

The only thing I would change would be my camera setup. I would have left my zoom lens at home as I never had a need for it. There isn’t a lot of wildlife on the trails and there wasn’t a need to zoom in for my shots. I would have the zoom lens out for a fish eye lens which would have come in handy many times.


A lot of reviews and guides suggested wearing full hiking boots for the West Highland Way. I personally think this is overkill. I wore Solomon X Ultra Gore-Tex hiking shoes that come up below the ankle and I had plenty of support and grip for the trail. They fit every need I had and I would recommend them.

The only things you need to think about when picking your shoes is that they are waterproof and comfortable. The long stretches of military road the trail follows are hard and after several miles on them they feel very hard. Make sure your shoes are comfortable. I would even suggest some nice comfortable insoles to make sure you have a pleasant experience.

West Highland Way Loch Lomond


I hiked the West Highland Way in 6 days In my first post, I mentioned that I am in my mid 30’s and in pretty decent shape. If you haven’t seen my earlier posts, this was my itinerary:

Day 1: Milngavie – Drymen – 12 miles
Day 2: Drymen – Rowardennan – 15 miles
Day 3: Rowardennan – Crainlarich – 20 miles
Day 4: Crainlarich – Inveroran – 15 miles
Day 5: Inveroran – Kinlochleven – 19 miles
Day 6: Kinlochleven – Fort William – 16 miles

Overall, I feel like this schedule was super manageable and I could do this again easily. The only day that felt a little too short was the first from Mingavie to Drymen. I could have easily stretched this out to Balmaha and it would have been very manageable.

The only day that felt a little long was from Rowardennan to Crainlarich. The trail along Loch Lomond is slow walking and it takes quite a while to reach the end of the loch. Because of that, I didn’t have a whole lot of time to sit around and enjoy the scenery as much as I would have liked.

If I were to hike the Way again I would probably keep this itinerary or just make a couple adjustments on the two sections I mentioned above. All the other days were perfect lengths and made for an enjoyable trek.

As for recommendations, if you hike regularly or are in good general shape, I would plan on no more than 6 days.  Any longer than this and you will probably be a bit disappointed. The towns are small and there isn’t a lot to do once you arrive.

If you want to go a bit faster, 5 days would be  manageable and give you a good workout without pushing you too hard. Any less than that and you would have to keep a pretty steady pace and you wouldn’t have a lot of time for sight seeing or photography.

Eating and Drinking

West Highland Way Dinner

If you plan on eating all of your meals at restaurants on the way, keep in mind that it is not cheap. Meals for lunch and dinner will set you back anywhere from £9 – £15. When you are paying in US dollars, like I was, that adds up really quick.

I tended to want to eat out for dinner, so I packed my lunches each day on the West Highland Way to save a few dollars. Plus, the big Scottish breakfasts held me over really well so I never wanted a big lunch.

I took advantage of grocery stores or convenience shops along the way to stock up on my food. They had pre-made sandwiches, fruit, crisps, etc. which I could just throw in my bag and get on the trail.

The only day I payed for a lunch was leaving Rowardennan. I bought a packed lunch from the hostel as there weren’t any shops until you reached the Beinglas Farm in Inverarnan or the Cranlarich Store in Crainlarich.

I also stocked up for a few days when I was in Tyndrum. This is the last town with a grocery store you will stop at before you reach Kinlochleven. I bought about two days worth of lunches and snacks here.

As for drinks on the West Highland Way, there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy a pint or some Scottish whiskey. Almost everyday, there seemed to be a pub at about the half way point where I could stop and take a nice break. Each town I stayed in also had a pub where you can unwind at night and enjoy some good conversation.

The pubs don’t always have real ale on draft, which I preferred, but they have a decent selection. They tended to always have the standards such as Belhaven’s Best or Tenants on draft and one or two others. Some pubs had more real ales than others and there are some local selections at a few places as well. I felt obliged to sample the local offerings and I was never disappointed.

If you are a whiskey fan, the selections seemed to be pretty good. I don’t drink it myself, but others on the Way said they had found some good varieties to try.

The End of the Way

There is something very rewarding in the through hike experience. Waking up each morning, throwing your pack on, breathing in the crisp morning air and heading off for a new destination is one of the best feelings in the world.

I had a great experience on and off the trail. One of the best parts of the trail is all of the people that you get to meet. The locals are super friendly and the camaraderie that builds between hikers is great. I made a lot of great friends on the trail and I won’t forget my experience.

Overall, I would recommend the West Highland Way to anyone who is interested in really seeing Scotland and enjoys hiking. The landscapes are varied and beautiful, even if they get a bit too close to civilization at times. Getting outdoors and away from modern society for a week is an amazing and refreshing experience, something most of us could all stand to do more often.

West Highland Way




West Highland Way – Photo Guide and Review by Day

Introduction to the West Highland Way

Milngavie – Drymen – 12 miles

Drymen – Rowardennan – 15 miles

Rowardennan – Crainlarich – 20 miles

Crainlarich – Inveroran – 15 miles

Inveroran – Kinlochleven – 19 miles

Kinlochleven – Fort William – 16 miles


Have you hiked the West Highland Way? Leave your impressions of the trail in the comments!


29 Oct

West Highland Way – Day 6 – Photo Guide and Review

Day 6 – Kinlochleven to Fort William – 15 miles

The final day of the West Highland Way had arrived and I was feeling ready for the last miles of the adventure. I was feeling super pumped after the great previous day from Inveroran to Kinlochleven and I was ready to get on the trail. I powered through my fantastic breakfast at the Fort View Guest House, grabbed my bag and headed for the trailhead.

West Highland Way - Kinlochleven

The weather was warm and a bit hazy as I started my days walk out of the valley from Kinlochleven into the remainder of the Scottish Highlands. The trail from town takes you uphill, nothing outrageous, but it was enough to get the blood flowing and required me to take off an outer layer of clothing.

As you start to reach the crest of the climb, the views start to present themselves. The trail follows a valley for several miles and hills lie on both sides. Before you get into the valley proper though, you will get some nice views of Loch Leven to enjoy. It’s a nice view, even if it does have some power lines in the way.

West Highland Way - Kinlochleven

The next several miles through valley were along the hard packed old military road that I had come to familiarize myself with and they weren’t demanding by any stretch, though hard on the feet as usual. The trail stretched out ahead of me and I could see where I was headed out into the distance.

As I got further down the trail, a few miles, I came across some ruins which were being enjoyed by a couple of sheep. They were quite charming and I soaked them in for a few minutes before hopping back on my way.

West Highland Way Sheep

After the ruins, the view doesn’t change much for several miles. The trail stretches out in front of you and its time to just power through it. The views are nice, but nothing really changes for quite a while. I enjoyed it, but after the great previous day, I was hoping for a bit more.

West Highland Way - Day 6

As I approached the bend in the trail, I saw that I was venturing into a bit of different territory. The landscape was leading me to an old forest that no longer existed. There were fields of old, dried out wood and stumps where the loggers had come through in previous years. This was another one of those times where I felt that civilization was a bit too close, even though there were no people around. Real, standing trees are better than chopped, grey stumps any day.

West Highland Way - Fell Forest

The way got a bit more hilly as the miles went on and steered me toward Fort William and out of the dead forest. The views were still quite nice and awarded me me with a great view of Loch Lunn Da-Bhra off to the West and the hills of the highlands around me. I also got my first views of the UK’s highest mountain, Ben Nevis, on a rare clear day.

West Highland Way - Ben Nevis

After soaking in the view, I pressed on and I was soon entering some thick forest areas that finally weren’t cut down.  Tall pines lined the trail and bird songs provided a nice backdrop to the stroll.  I found myself really happy to be back amongst the trees and enjoying the forest.


At some point, the trail abruptly enters more dead forest and starts to climb some moderate hills. I kept thinking to myself how much nicer this would have been had the trees been allowed to remain in the area and provide some cover and a habitat for local wildlife. It wasn’t long though before I was back in the thick pines and happy again.

West Highland Way - Cleared Forest

The next several miles wandered down the hills, bring me lower and lower to sea level. The road was again a hard packed service road and it wasn’t nice on the feet. It did however provide some great views of Ben Nevis and the country side surrounding Fort William.

West Highland Way Forest

The trail continued to descend until it completely flattened out at the bottom, which marked the final stretch of the West Highland Way. This would have been my preferred ending point for the trail as the last stretch was my absolute least favorite part of the trail.

The remaining stretch, maybe a mile or a bit less, just runs along a sidewalk of a really busy road. Nothing to see other than hedges and traffic. Eventually you get to the traffic circle marking the original end of the West Highland Way and that is the first interesting sight along this stretch.

Highland Cattle

No highland cattle on the West Highland Way…just a sign…

I pressed on further into Fort William and I was happy to be off the busy road when I reached downtown proper. The town is quite nice and the views of the ocean off to the north were great. The final stretch of the trail is all on pedestrian only stretches until you reach the new, official end of the trail.

With some friends I had made on the trail, I ventured to the Ben Nevis Pub to have a few celebratory pints. I grabbed my Bridge of Orchy ale and ventured to the back patio to soak up some sun and enjoy the ocean views.

I had reached the end. 97 miles of Scotland laid behind me. I was done. I felt good.

Having seen the Highlands of Scotland from the ground level and experiencing it at a slow pace, I felt very rewarded. I had really “seen” what northern Scotland had to offer rather than just catching passing glimpses from a car. I met a lot of nice people along the trail and had some great experiences with locals.

I was happy.


– Nice views of the highlands on the first stretch.
– Ben Nevis is pretty awesome.
– You get to celebrate the completion of the West Highland Way.


– Hard military roads for walking.
– A lot of time in old, deforested regions.
– The last stretch into Fort Williams is the worst part of the trail and a lackluster finish.


Come back soon for my final reflections and suggestions for hiking the West Highland Way.

West Highland Way – Photo Guide and Review by Day

Introduction to the West Highland Way

Milngavie – Drymen – 12 miles
Drymen – Rowardennan – 15 miles
Rowardennan – Crainlarich – 20 miles
Crainlarich – Inveroran – 15 miles
Inveroran – Kinlochleven – 19 miles
Kinlochleven – Fort William – 16 miles

25 Oct

West Highland Way – Day 5 – Photo Guide and Review

Day 5 – Inveroran to Kinlochleven – 19 Miles

After a very nice and comfortable nights rest at the Inveroran Hotel and a lighter, yet satisfying breakfast, I took to the trail for what was by far my favorite day on the West Highland Way.

The easy trail leaving Inveroran allowed me to really enjoy the crisp morning air with dramatic lighting that shone through breaks in the clouds. I passed some farm land being grazed by cattle and shortly thereafter began the light, steady climb out of the valley through the remotest regions of the trail.

Inveroran, Scotland

For the first 8 miles or so, the trail took me upward at a relatively steady incline as it made its way through extremely beautiful stretches of the Scottish Highlands. There are no roads or power lines stretched across this open land and it was absolutely superb. It was what I had imagined the trail would be like when I decided to hike it.

West Highland Way - Inveroran

The views and the lands are expansive through this stretch and you are surrounded by beautiful mountains on all sides. The clouds rested on the tops of the peaks and gave them even more personality than they already had. The rays of the sun also provided amazing rays which would part through the clouds.

By about 5 or 6 miles in, you will start to crest the trail and there is an amazing lookout point to your left with a large cairn on the top. CLIMB THIS! The view from the top is absolutely breathtaking and you get to soak in the largest region of uninhabited land in the United Kingdom. It is a perfect spot to take a break and refresh.

West Highland Way, Scotland

Leaving the top of the hill, I started my decent down into Glen Coe and the views just continued to get better. The clouds had dissipated by the time I made it to the area and the skies were dark blue, something I hadn’t seen to this point on my trip in Scotland.

Ahead of me lied the amazing Buachaille Etive Mòr, meaning “the great herdsman of Etive in Scottish Gaelic, and it incredibly powerful. Its cone or pyramid shape stuck out of the flat countryside and all I could think about was it being an ancient, dormant volcano. It was amazing and its size was extremely impressive.

Glen Coe, West Highland Way

The next two miles or so lead me to the Kings House Hotel which lies on the other side of a super busy road that runs through Glen Coe. Watch your ass here because these drivers are flying and they don’t slow down for people crossing the street.

West Highland Way - Glen Coe

Some people I met along the way were walking a short day, 10 miles, from Bridge of Orchy or Inveroran to Kings House and stopping there. If you don’t plan on exploring Glen Coe, don’t make this mistake. I left Inveroran at about 8:00 AM and was at the Kings House by 11:30 AM and I wasn’t pushing myself. I suggest to keep going to Kinlochleven.

West Highland Way - Glen Coe

Leaving the Kings House Hotel, I got back on the way and headed through Glen Coe toward the Devil’s staircase. This stretch of the trail is beautiful, but the busy road I had to cross earlier runs right along it. If the scenery hadn’t been so amazing, I would have been rather annoyed.

West Highland Way - Glen Coe

A couple of miles further, I reached the turn off to climb the Devil’s Staircase. If you cross back over the road to your left, there are a couple of nice benches that give you the postcard views of Glen Coe that are a perfect stopping point for lunch. It was a nice spot to rest before the steepest climb of the trail.

After lunch, I threw on my pack and started my climb up the Devil’s Staircase. It’s a semi-steep climb and you will be breathing heavier than on any other stretch of the trail, but don’t let the name fool you. It’s not very long and the views are so nice that you will forget about the extra effort required.

West Highland Way - Devil's Staircase

Upon reaching the top, I was happy and I felt accomplished. I took some photos and enjoyed the panoramic views of the amazing valley. It was hard to leave it behind and keep hiking.

Turning my back on Glen Coe, I was greeted with more amazing views on the decent. Tall peaks lie in the north and off to the east sits Blackwater Reservoir. After the walk along the busy road, the trail returns to the remote highlands and I was once again only surrounded by nature.

West Highland Way - Top of Devil's Staircase

The next miles to Kinlochleven are very pleasant and the walking is not very difficult. There were several pretty substantial descents but other than the rocky trail, it was easy walking and I could really enjoy the nature.

Soon, I started to reach some civilization and the trail started to venture into Kinlochleven. There is a water plant at the top above town and six large metal tubes bring water down to the town. It also marks the decent into the village.

West Highland Way - Above Kinlochleven

This part of the trail was my least favorite of the day, not for the scenery, but for the road you have to walk on. It is the steepest decent of the day and it is on a really hard packed gravel service road. My knees were really feeling it as I made my way down.

West Highland Way - Kinlochleven Trail

The road eventually flattens out and I walked the rest of the way to town along the metal water pipes. Occasionally I passed a section that had sprung a leak and water was spraying out like crazy. It was pretty cool and totally different than other parts of the trail.

I made my way to town and checked in to the Forest View Guest House. This B&B is right off the trail as soon as you make it into town and it is really nice and comfortable. The plush carpets felt great on my feet and the rooms are very clean and comfortable. The shower was also great and it was very welcome after a full day on the trail.

After I cleaned up, I made my way into town and I enjoyed wandering around. It is a really small, charming place and I felt very comfortable there. They had a grocery store in town where I stocked up and then went out for a bite to eat.

Along the way, a hiker mentioned to me that Kinlochleven had a mountain climbing facility that had an ice climbing wall. I had to see the ice wall so I made my way to the Ice Factor to check it out.

The ice wall was really cool and was in its own special freezer room within the complex. With crampons and some ice axes, you can scale the vertical walls and get ready for your mountaineering adventures. It was worth checking out as this is something I had never encountered before.

The Ice Factor also had a bar and restaurant on the 2nd level which overlooks the climbing walls. I treated myself to a nice and delicious dinner, one of the best on the entire West Highland Way, before I headed back to my room for the evening. It was a great way to spend the evening before my last day on the trail.


– The most beautiful and varied scenery of the entire West Highland Way.
– The trails are mostly remote and away from civilization.
– Glen Coe is absolutely beautiful.


– The stretch from the Kings House Hotel to the Devils Staircase is right along a road.
– Hard service road and decent to Kinlochleven.

West Highland Way – Photo Guide and Review by Day

Introduction to the West Highland Way

Milngavie – Drymen – 12 miles
Drymen – Rowardennan – 15 miles
Rowardennan – Crainlarich – 20 miles
Crainlarich – Inveroran – 15 miles
Inveroran – Kinlochleven – 19 miles
Kinlochleven – Fort William – 16 miles