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I hiked 8 miles to an eerie ghost town filled with crumbling homes and felt like I’d traveled back in time

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An abandoned house on the Homestead Meadows trail outside of Estes Park, Colorado.
  • I hiked Homestead Meadows, a trail in Colorado that leads to abandoned buildings built in the 1800s.

  • I explored two out of eight homesteads in the area; seeing them all would have required a 15-mile hike.

  • It was like stepping back in time. In one house, I found a rusted Pepsi can; in another, a mold-covered bathtub.

Tucked in the back of pine and aspen forests in Estes Park, Colorado, is Homestead Meadows – a ghost town from the 1800s.

An abandoned house on the Homestead Meadows trail outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

Source: Uncover Colorado

The deserted town is the result of the Homestead Act of 1862, which allowed people to claim ownership of land to build homes and communities, according to Uncover Colorado.

Settlers, like the family shown here in Custer County, Nebraska, left the East to pioneer in frontier country.
Settlers in Nebraska who took advantage of the 1862 Homestead Act. (Homestead Meadows not pictured.) Bettmann/Getty Images

Source: Uncover Colorado

On a recent trip to Estes Park, I set out to visit Homestead Meadows. The area’s first resident settled there in 1889, and its last residents left in 1952, Uncover Colorado reported.

Homestead Meadows sits between two popular Colorado towns, Lyons and Estes Park.

Homestead Meadows sits between two popular Colorado towns, Lyons and Estes Park. Google Maps

Source: Uncover Colorado

The trail is located in the back of a camping area called Hermit Park Open Space. I paid a $9 entry fee to access the area, taking a 6.5-mile hike that would lead to the abandoned ghost town.

The entrance to Hermit Park Open Space.

After driving down a winding path, I made it to the trailhead. My goal was to hike three miles to the Irvin Homestead, which is the most complete homestead in the area, according to Outdoor Project.

An abandoned house on the Homestead Meadows trail outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

Source: Outdoor Project

As I started the hike, I found myself completely alone in a cloud of thick fog. It felt like stepping back in time since the trails I was walking along were once old wagon roads.

The Homestead Meadows trail outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

Source: Outdoor Project

In the late 1800s and early 1900s, many of the men living in Homestead Meadows would travel to the nearby town of Lyons for work during the week. Each weekend, they’d make the long journey home back to their families, according to Uncover Colorado.

A homesteader's cabin and wagon in Echo Park.

Source: Uncover Colorado

After a little over an hour of hiking, I arrived only to be met with disappointment. The singular building I saw was a collapsed wood structure.

An abandoned house on the Homestead Meadows trail outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

Fearing there wouldn’t be any other remaining parts of the homestead, which once had a house, sawmill, barn, bathhouse, and outhouse, I searched around the area. Through the fog, I spotted another building.

An arrow points to a second house in the fog.

Source: Outdoor Project

This building was still standing and in better condition than the first. The house would’ve been built by the landowner and settler, Frank Irvin. Later, R. J. Nettleton moved onto the homestead to operate a sawmill and raise rabbits, according to Colorado’s Incredible Backcountry Trails.

An abandoned house on the Homestead Meadows trail outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

Source: Colorado’s Incredible Backcountry Trails

Inside the home, there were four rooms, and items from its previous residents scattered the wooden house.

An abandoned house on the Homestead Meadows trail outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

A rusting Welch’s grape juice can and Vernor’s Ginger Ale can sat on the mantel. It was incredible to think that the settlers not only built the buildings themselves but also survived Colorado’s harsh winters in the uninsulated homes.

An abandoned house on the Homestead Meadows trail outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

In another room of the house, there was an old porcelain-faced cooking stove.

An abandoned house on the Homestead Meadows trail outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

Life wouldn’t have been easy for the settlers, whose jobs ranged from farming and selling timber to raising cattle, according to Colorado’s Incredible Backcountry Trails.

A family pose with their wagon in Loup Valley, Nebraska, on their way to their new homestead.
A family pose with their wagon in Loup Valley, Nebraska, on their way to their new homestead. (Homestead Meadows not pictured.) MPI/Getty Images

Outside of the second home, I noticed a trail leading into a forested area. I explored the area and discovered another abandoned building.

An abandoned house on the Homestead Meadows trail outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

I was inside the Irvin bathhouse, where water once flowed from a nearby spring. The structure was slanted and decaying, and today the bathtub is the only thing that remains.

One crumbling building only had a bathtub covered in mold inside.

There are eight different homesteads in the area, according to the USDA Forest Service. But a hike to all eight would be more than 15 miles – a journey I wasn’t prepared for.

An abandoned house on the Homestead Meadows trail outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

Source: USDA Forest Service

So I decided to trek back to my car. This time, I took a slightly different route that led to one final homestead on my hike.

An abandoned house on the Homestead Meadows trail outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

While I saw just two homesteads, the decaying buildings helped provide a glimpse into what life was like in Colorado decades ago.

An abandoned house on the Homestead Meadows trail outside of Estes Park, Colorado.

Read the original article on Insider

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