Fall colors on display in Hope Valley | RecordCourier.com

Fall colors on display in Hope Valley

by Barbara Barton
Special to The R-C
Riders gather cattle on the Hagen Ranch in Alpine County.
Special to The R-C |


What: Alpine Aspen Festival

When: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday

Where: Blue Lakes Road, just off Highway 88 in Hope Valley

The fall colors will be on full display for the 2nd annual Alpine Aspen Festival this weekend in Hope Valley.

A range of activities are planned to celebrate the natural beauty, ecology, and history of Alpine County. Jim and Karen Hagen will lead horseback trail rides through Charity Valley.

Growing up in the Bay Area, Karen and Jim both loved horses and never wanted to do anything but ranching. They have owned the “J bar K” ranch in Calaveras County since 1999, and have now expanded into Alpine County with the 2012 purchase of the 140 acre Charity Valley Ranch.

The historic ranch is located 7.5 miles from Highway 88 on Blue Lakes Road. It backs up to miles of wilderness, pristine meadows, and Charity Creek, with abundant wildlife and views of Markleeville Peak.

The Hagens believe in preserving a “way of life” – cow and horse ranching – by utilizing modern and progressive means of land management and animal husbandry. They strive to build public awareness and work closely with all the agencies and organizations tasked with overseeing the land. The beneficiaries of this hard work are the many people with whom they share their ranch and expertise.

To participate in one of the many levels of horsemanship training, guests can bring their own horses or ride one of the 12 available on the ranch. The novice will learn the basics of riding and caring for a horse. More experienced riders participate in mountain horsemanship or weekend clinics with longer rides and more complex training. The Hagens even offer “cow working” and “riding herd management” for those who long for the genuine ranch experience. They will tailor rides for any group. Karen has even trained actors to ride for movie roles.

The two-hour trail rides offered during the Alpine Aspen Festival will begin at the 1880s ranch site with a discussion of horsemanship and horse behavior. Everyone will then saddle up for a ride through the lovely meadow bordering the ranch. During the ride Jim and Karen will share history of the area and discuss environmental issues. The ride will continue on to a scenic spot overlooking Charity Valley.

To reserve a place on one of the three trail rides offered during the festival (limited to six riders each), visit AspenFest.org. Check out the other activities available with outdoor experts (fly fishing, guided hikes, art classes, and more) as well as free activities, which include nature hikes, music, speakers, and environmental exhibits. The Alpine Aspen Festival event is 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday on Blue Lakes Road, just off Highway 88 in Hope Valley.