Updated on January 30, 2016
The Birch Ruins and Cabin
Across the street from Sunrise Ridge, in the Knoll-Willows Nature Preserve, you’ll notice two interesting structures that have some interesting history to them and are both on on the state register of historic places.
Looking south up on the ridge, you’ll see a decaying stone structure – this is Birch Ruins. Albert Birch, then editor of the Denver Post, built the Birch Bungalow in 1907 and unfortunately shortly after it burned down from a house fire caused by the fire place. It was supposedly a stunning bungalow before the tragic accident, large windows showcasing the mountain view, a huge fireplace, and a wraparound stone porch made it a small but magnificent mountain getaway.
You can visit the Birch Ruins by the parking lot across from The Stanley Hotel on Wonderview Ave. A short walk over the ridge will take you to the ruins. It’s a short hike that I highly recommend, there are beautiful views of Longs Peak and Mount Meeker as well as downtown Estes Park. You’ll may also see Abert’s squirrels, marmots, and the occasional mule deer or elk.
Shortly after Albert Birch’s bungalow burnt down, he build a cabin down in the willows, which you’ll see right across the street from Sunrise Ridge. Albert and his family lived here happily until the 1980’s.
You can hike to the cabin by taking the trail right behind the Estes Park police station or climb down the ridge from Birch Ruins. The trail runs across Black Canyon Creek, and you may get lucky and stumble across some mule deer or elk. From Mid-May to July, female elks like to give birth in the willows so keep a keen eye out. The mothers are very protective of their young and will charge.