The Trail Season 7

Whether Hiking or Biking, Climbing or Just Gazing, Surround Yourself With Colorado Beauty Just Outside Your Door

Growing up in the Front Range, my parents never took me into the mountains. The mountains were there to direct me on which way was West. It wasn’t until I went to Fort Lewis College in Durango in the ’90s that I truly got a taste of all the trails offered. When I had to move back home after college for a “real” job, I thought I’d lost the opportunity to surround myself in nature without having to get in a car and drive an hour.

Then, I started playing on the trails in my own backyard, not knowing how much the nearby areas had to offer. We live in an area where we can be lost in the woods in less than 30 miles from our city center. Yes, the Denver metro trails have gotten pretty busy over the years, but the gems are still out there, especially on the south end of town. Black Bear near Chatfield just opened last summer and connects Hildebrand to Deer Creek. And although I’m selfishly bummed that it’s closed for summer months due to raptor nesting, it’s for raptor nesting —absolutely amazing.

This spring, as I sat on top of the rock formations in Castlewood Canyon with my husband and daughter, after a late afternoon of rock climbing, we were able to lay our bodies on the heated rocks and watch the turkey vultures circle above us. The exploration of the wilderness will not be unique to my daughter’s childhood, but an integral part of it.

My passion for the past 20 years has been mountain biking these trails, and now that I have family and friends who don’t necessarily love the bike like I do, I’m exposed yet again to the beautiful wilderness that has been placed before me with more to discover; while pushing a stroller, looking through a car window, hiking, biking or being attached to a rope, here we are. Colorado, your beauty has me.

1. Roxborough State Park

A south Denver gem, Roxborough State Park offers crazy-beautiful red-rock formations and public trails for hiking and single-track biking. Roxborough is a Colorado Natural Area and a National Natural Landmark in west Douglas County that encompasses almost 4,000 acres. Bring your camera. At the Fountain Valley Overlook, which is only 100 yards from the Visitor Center, you’ll find views of the Fountain Formation, Lyons Formation and the Dakota Hogback. Be on the lookout for black bears, mule deer and red fox. CPW.State.co.us

2. Indian Creek Trail in Pike National Forest

Eleven miles west of Sedalia in Douglas County, Indian Creek Trailhead offers high-altitude hiking and biking just outside the city. You’ll find beautiful views of meadows, wildflowers, a horse camp and even a peak of the western mountains that will take your breath away. The Colorado Trail connects to Indian Creek, so your options are near limitless. Expect to still see snow in June and very few people. FS.USDA.gov

3. Green Mountain Trail

Green Mountain is a great trail with various distances to hike or bike. It’s easily accessible and an excellent choice if your time is limited or you’re new to mountain biking. The trail is fairly dry throughout the year, so it’s great for all seasons. FS.USDA.gov

4. Castlewood Canyon State Park

Castlewood Canyon is easy to find, a few miles east of Interstate 25 near Franktown. It’s a state park with an $8 daily pass fee. The park is easily accessible for family hikes and picnics. This often overlooked gem is great for hiking, but also the unique rock formations make for a climber’s playground as well. The breathtaking solitude of the Plains stretching out to the East and the stunning canyon give the feel of the best that Colorado offers. CPW.State.co.us