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Mushroom hunting west of Loveland yesterday - much success

Mushroom hunting west of Loveland yesterday - much success
August 27, 2012 07:14PM
My wife, daughters and I headed out with a Polish co-worker who is a mycological expert for our first day of picking mushrooms this year (and our third trip ever) and we had a great time. I am told that prime mushroom picking spots are supposed to be super secret, so I'll obey the Polish tradition and will be vague - we were around 8500-9500 ft. somewhere roughly west of Loveland all in pine forests. There were five of us, and we were primarily looking for boletus edulis, and found 3 huge ones in about 4 hours of hiking. Beyond just trying to find the very hard to spot king bolete, we had a great time hiking around and our expert was very good at teaching us all about mushrooms - both the edible and the pretty-but-not-edible. There was an absolute bonanza of mushrooms where we were - although it was odd because the forest was pretty dry - and we saw many many different types - which our expert helpfully named in Polish and Latin but which became hard to remember after a while I came to this website to look up some of the names again.

Beyond our three prized boletes, we walked off with a large cache of shorted stemmed slippery jacks (suillus brevipes) and weeping boletes (suillus granulatus) and a handful of large scaber stalks (leccinum aurantiacum or maybe leccinum fibrillosum - there's some confusion over this) and I spent several hours last night removing the skin and pipes of the suillus and then slicing all of them into strips and they spent the day outside drying. We plan to use them in soups and dishes so they will be well cooked.

Our expert said that last year was "not a good year for mushrooms", the year before was a "crazy good year for mushrooms" and this year is maybe a bit above average. We are probably headed out again next weekend - the kids (who, ironically, don't eat mushrooms) had a wonderful time and it was a great family day out.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 08/28/2012 02:46PM by pfmahoney.
Re: Mushroom hunting west of Loveland yesterday - much success
September 03, 2012 11:08AM
That is great to hear, I live in Fort Collins, we've had 5 unsuccessful trips this year! Any tips you can give to the location would be great! smiling smiley

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/03/2012 11:08AM by gura4444.
Re: Mushroom hunting west of Loveland yesterday - much success
September 03, 2012 12:09PM
We went up again on Sat. and five of us hauled off a full laundry basket of suillus luteus - about 1/3 of which were full of worms - but that left us with a huge pile. We are pickling about 4lbs of them right now (just finished, they are cooling off) and they smell and taste fantastic. And then we are drying the rest.

We saw three super moldy boletes (boletus edulis) which looked one step away from complete putrification so we left alone and it looks like the reign of the forest king may be ending. For bolete-a-likes we saw just a handful of leccinum fibrillosum which we picked and we will dry and cook although the warnings about them freak me out a bit, we've eaten them without problems in the past. The hills were absolutely full of sarcodon imbricatus - they were everywhere. Not my favorite mushroom, but not bad, and they were all over.. by far the most common mushroom we saw.

So... where to go. The trick is to go high up. You want to be at least 9000ft. I don't know if the mushrooms like thinner air or if it's that they get more rain up there (probably the latter), but whatever it is, I rarely see much of anything below 8000ft. A good place to go - although I'll warn you that it's a popular place too - is to go west of Horsetooth Reservoir, go up Buckhorn Canyon, head west on the dirt road Buckhorn Rd then turn south onto N. Crystal Mtn Rd., park where the road goes from being "ok" to looking awful (somewhere around 8500ft. up Crystal Mtn) and then hike up Lookout Mtn. or Signal Mtn. This whole area is mostly in National Forest, so you can walk where you want, but watch the property boundaries because it's like a weird chessboard of property boundaries up there and it's not always obvious what is public access National Forest. On the plus side, it's very pretty up there too. Use this map (http://www.fs.fed.us/r2/recreation/map/vis_maps/arnf/ar-nf-north/index.shtml ), zoom in around Lookout Mtn, and stay in the green areas, and away from the white areas. smiling smiley

We've gone up East and West Pine Mtn, but there wasn't that much there and that's in the fire area so I'm thinking that it's not on the recommendation list. Another place that used to be good was the top of Rist Canyon - there's a chunk of public access National Forest up at the top of the canyon and you could get some mushrooms there (not a lot, but some)... but that's all black now too. But still, my closest recommendation to Fort Collins is near the top of Lookout Mtn. and in the area between Lookout and Signal. It should still be ok up there now - we still have a few more weekends left before it starts to get too cold for them. If you head up, post back and let me know what you saw and how it went.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/03/2012 12:52PM by pfmahoney.
Re: Mushroom hunting west of Loveland yesterday - much success
September 08, 2012 11:12AM
Thanks so much! we'll try it tomorrow!
Re: Mushroom hunting west of Loveland yesterday - much success
September 09, 2012 10:25AM
I would be up high at > 10k feet this late in the season. I pickled some baby suillus granulatus last month and the came out really good.
Re: Mushroom hunting west of Loveland yesterday - much success
September 09, 2012 12:38PM
Yeah, we didn't have much luck yesterday at around 8500-9500ft south of Lookout Mtn. Everything we saw was very dried out and even the dry stuff was pretty sparse.. It was a nice day hiking in a beautiful area, but it was all looking a bit dry and desolate on the mushroom front. I agree with JC and I'm thinking we needed to be higher up. Like 10k or more.
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