Saturday, July 22, 2017

Oil Well Flats


Just north of Cañon City lies an expansive, thirteen-mile network of mountain biking and hiking trails known as Oil Well Flats. Visitors will discover a unique area with towering cliffs, rugged canyons and wide-open, rolling plains. The views of Cañon City with the Wet Mountains and the Sangre de Cristos are gorgeous. The area got its name from the oil wells that were dug beginning in the 1860s -- which were the first wells west of the Mississippi. In the 1870s, dinosaur fossils were discovered nearby. Needless to say, the geology of the area is amazing -- and being located in the Climate Capital of Colorado, Oil Well Flats can be experienced year round.

The road leading into Oil Well Flats is passable by low clearance vehicles to the first and second parking areas, but if you want to venture further into the area a high-clearance vehicle is required. Please be respectful of the land and only use the trails in dry conditions to avoid unnecessary erosion and damage to the trails. Also be prepared to encounter horseback riders in the area -- and keep all dogs on leash.



There are four main loops of trails: Fracture/Tectonic Shift, Anticline, Island in the Sky and Fire Canyon/Unconformity. But the trails intersect often and other larger routes and loops could be envisioned. Click here for a detailed map.

There are lots of great resources out there to learn more about this area and the various hiking/biking routes:
Fremont Adventure Recreation (JoinFAR) - check here for current trail conditions
MTB Project - detailed trail info and maps
Canyonland Walkers and Hikers - history, detailed maps


Thursday, July 20, 2017

giving nature


In every walk with Nature one receives far more than he seeks.
-- John Muir (1838-1914) Naturalist and Conservationist.

Above: The Arkansas River and Royal Gorge from the Canyon Rim Trail.

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Newlin Creek Trail


Newlin Creek is a much loved destination for hikers and rock climbers. It offers a different terrain and feel from the more high-desert hikes found at other destinations in and around Fremont County. Depending on the time of year, the creek itself is not overly impressive, but does offer some small waterfalls and cascades during rainy seasons. The real attractions, at least for me, are the rock outcroppings found along the trail. In many places the trail leads around, sometimes over, sometimes between, these beautiful rock formations. If you go all the way to the end (3.6 miles one way), you'll come to an old 1887 sawmill, complete with abandoned equipment.

Getting there can be a challenge. I strongly recommend a high-clearance vehicle. My Outback did fine, but I'm glad I had the extra clearance. To my surprise, I did see some sedans in the parking area, but I wouldn't recommend trying it. From the looks of it, the road seldom gets attention from the scrapper.  All that said, Newlin is worth the effort to get there -- and you'll be rewarded with a fun and beautiful hike in the woods. Be prepared for creek crossings.

Directions: From downtown Florence, CO, turn south on Rt67 toward Westcliffe.  Drive 4.2 miles, turn right on County Road 15 and drive 6.3 miles to a large parking area.  On your way, the road will fork twice, keep right each time. As you enter the park, you'll have options to split off to the right and left, just keep straight on the main road. 

For information on bouldering in Newlin, click here.
For more information on hiking, click here.


Sign at entrance of park
Large parking area at the end of County Road 15
Sign at trail head with map giving a good overview of the area.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Royal Gorge Route Railroad


If you follow your bliss, you put yourself on a kind of track, which has been there all the while waiting for you, and the life that you ought to be living is the one you are living. 
--Joseph Campbell (1904-1987) American Author, Philosopher and Teacher

The Royal Gorge Route Railroad is one of the top attractions in all of Colorado. While the suspension bridge high above is immediately recognized as a remarkable engineering achievement, but the railway below is just as remarkable. Establishing the railroad was a battle, not only with nature, granite and physical limitations (the gorge is just 30 feet wide at its narrowest), but between men as two railroads waged war to control the gorge. It was a battle waged with bullets as well as lawsuits. It went on for decades, ending with a US Supreme Court decision. You can read all about it here.

Today, the gorge is one of premier tourist destinations in Colorado. The scale and beauty of the gorge is experienced up-close as passengers enjoy exceptional dining services and comfort. There are various levels of service provided, from coach to first class -- with all having access to the open-air car for a completely immersive experience of the gorge and its wonders.

Click here to learn more and to make reservations.

Above: A view of the railroad from the Tunnel Drive Trail.

Monday, June 19, 2017

blossom among thorns


The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of all.  
–From the movie, "Mulan"  

Sunday, June 18, 2017

White Water River Rafting


“We said there warn’t no home like a raft, after all. Other places do seem so cramped up and smothery, but a raft don’t. You feel mighty free and easy and comfortable on a raft.” --Mark Twain

One of the biggest tourism draws for the Royal Gorge region is rafting on the Arkansas River. From Buena Vista to Salida to Cañon City, the river is a magnet for adventure seekers as well as for those just wanting to relax and enjoy the rugged beauty of the area.

Rafting packages can range from half-day to full day trips with different levels of experiences: from a more relaxing float to an exhilarating, white-knuckle adventure. There are many different outfitters to choose from, click here for a list.

The photos here were taken from the Tunnel Drive Trail overlooking the river outside of Cañon City [click to enlarge].

Monday, June 12, 2017

Lincoln Mountain Open Space


Just off of Colorado 83 between Larkspur and Monument is an enormous 876 acre park with over 8 miles of trails. Popular with horseback riders, bikers and hikers alike, the area features grassy meadows, forested areas, rocky cliffs, mesas with great views and abundant wildlife. There are two main trails to choose from, both over 4 miles long: the Palmer Divide Loop and the Lincoln Mountain Loop. If you want views of the front range, take the Lincoln Mountain Trail.

For more information, click here.

Directions from COS: Drive north on Hwy 83. Turn left on Jones Rd, about 6 miles north of Highway 105. The trail head is about a half mile further on your right.


Sunday, June 11, 2017

Section 16


Most popular with horseback riders, Section 16 also a peaceful, easy place for hikers to explore. Located in Black Forest, the pines offer plenty of shade on hot days as visitors make their way around the 4 mile, rectangular looped trail.

For directions and more information, click here and here



Saturday, June 10, 2017

Homestead Ranch


I wish I had more time when I stopped by Homestead Ranch one evening. But it was getting late and I walked the dog as far as I could with the light that remained. But what I saw made me want to come back and explore some more. Near the parking area is a pond with numerous picnic areas around. I saw some people fishing and other packing up after their dinner. I went on around the lake and up into the woods where the trail became more steep and eventually leveled out on a wide open plateau. It's from there I shot the sunset photo and started heading back. But I loved the portion of the trail I saw and the remote, rustic feel of the land there. At 450 acres and over three miles of trails, there's a lot to explore.

The park is located outside of Peyton, CO, east of Black Forest. To learn more about the Homestead Ranch Regional Park and for maps and directions, click here and here.

Friday, June 9, 2017

Palmer Lake and Santa Fe Trail


Officially called Palmer Lake Regional Recreation Area, Palmer Lake is a very popular place for hiking and fishing. It's a beautiful and easily accessible destination near I-25 and Monument, located in the small and charming town of Palmer Lake which has numerous restaurants and shops to discover.

Visitors will also find access to the 15 mile long Santa Fe Regional Trail that runs from Palmer Lake south through the Air Force Academy.  The trail follows an old railroad line and is an easy grade for walking and biking. Trailheads can be found at Palmer Lake, Third Street (Monument), Baptist Road, Highway 105, Northgate Road, Ice Lake, and at the Air Force Academy. Click here for more information.

Directions: The lake can be reached from I-25, exit 161, then northwest on Highway 105 for approximately 5 miles; east at County Line Road to the park entrance.

Thursday, June 8, 2017

Fox Run Regional Park


Encompassing 417 acres full of Ponderosa Pines, Fox Run is a perfect place for a relaxing hike. Picnicking and biking are also popular activities here. There are two small and picturesque ponds to explore as well. The trails are thoughtfully marked and numerous informative plaques are placed throughout the trails offering information on the history of the area and the flora and fauna of the park.

For more information about the park, click here and here.

Directions: Take I-25 to the Baptist Road exit, head east out of town and then turn right on Roller Coaster Rd. You will immediately come to a parking area/trail head. Continue on south on Roller Coaster and then turn right on Stella Drive for more direct access to the lakes.

Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Black Forest Regional Park


Hiking, biking, horseback riding, picnicking, tennis, basketball, soccer, horseshoes are some of the activities you'll find at Black Forest Regional Park. With 4 miles of trails over 385 acres, there's much to explore. While some of the park suffered from the terrible wildfire that swept through in 2013, much of the park was unscathed. I visited in June and found many varieties of wildflowers blooming throughout the park. Nice views of Pikes Peak can be had from various spots on the trails.

For more information on the park, click here and here.

Driving Directions: The park can be reached from Interstate 25, exit 153; Go north on Highway 83 to Shoup Road; turn east on Shoup for 2.5 mils to Milam Road; and turn north into the park. The first parking area is primarily for hiking and picnicking. Continue on Milam Road a short distance and the main parking area for the park and its features will be found on your right.



Friday, June 2, 2017

South Canon Trails


The latest additions to the extensive, 10 mile network of mountain biking and hiking trails around Cañon City are the South Canon Trails through the Schepp Open Space. This section was the missing link needed to connect the Arkansas Riverwalk with the trails at Ecology Park and Section 13. Access is provided at the Eagle Wing Trailhead, located on the corner of New York Avenue and Colburn Lane. 

For a helpful PDF map of this section (and other nearby south Cañon trails), click here.

To learn more about the generous donation of land by the Schepp family that made this possible, click here

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Today

Yesterday, you said tomorrow. 
--Nike ad. 

After years of thinking and dreaming, talking and planning, and then delaying… it was time to explore other career opportunities and to take a big leap of faith and move out to Colorado. Tennessee, you've been very good to me. I moved there not knowing a soul, and it's amazing, looking back, at how it all came together. It was often stormy, especially those early years of getting settled into a career, but I met many amazing and supportive friends and had wonderful opportunities to get involved in the community along the way. So I set out to Colorado this week, not knowing what lies in store. But hopeful and optimistic, and trusting that there's something bigger going on in my life and if I hesitated or relented, somehow I'd always regret it. So here's to today, it's all we have. Let's live it fully without regret. 

Above: Rain clouds welcome me to the plains of eastern Colorado.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

gratitude


I am grateful for what I am and have. My thanksgiving is perpetual.  --Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862)

I took this photo on a Thanksgiving trip to Colorado Springs a couple years ago. I kept waiting for the sidewalk to clear of visitors. It never did. But I realized it was nice to have people in the shot taking in the beauty of the Garden of the Gods with Pikes Peak in the background. Such a stunningly gorgeous place to visit!