Category Archives: Sporting

Windy Saddle Park

December 19, 2017

Trail(s): Lookout Mountain Trail, Buffalo Bill Trail, Chimney Gulch Trail
Location: Windy Saddle Park
Fees: Free
Website: https://www.jeffco.us/1440/Windy-Saddle-Park
Distance: 4.5 miles

It has been a while since I have explored one of the local, nearby parks.  With dog sitting duties, I decided to take Roo to Windy Saddle Park.  She runs trails with her owner who is training for a marathon, so I suspect she was sorely disappointed to half to walk.  None the less, at least she got to get outside and sniff out small mammals that fortunately stayed hidden in the brisk morning weather.

We began our hike on Lookout Mountain Trail which is located across the street from the main entrance of Windy Saddle Park on Colorow Road.  Windy Saddle Park is part of the Jeffco Open Space which manages a variety of parks surrounding Denver.

We strolled along a rocky path which undulated through a coniferous forest.  At the first trail junction, I took a right to climb up the Buffalo Bill Trail toward the Buffalo Bill Museum and grave.  I didn’t visit these tourist destinations that I doubt were dog friendly, but instead returned to the trail intersection where I went the other way and descended further down Lookout Mountain Trail.

The trail offered a nice view of the snow capped mountains to the west before it ended at a parking lot on the Peak-to-Peak Scenic Byway.  Upon crossing the street, I connected with Chimney Gulch Trail and continued descending toward the valley.  I was under a time constraint and worried that walking back up the trail would take me longer, so I didn’t make it to the end of the 1.4 trail, but hiked about half of it.

The view from the trail was of the City of Golden which wasn’t very exciting to me anyway, so I didn’t feel like I was missing much, especially given the dormant plant life during the winter.  It was a nice hike and good exercise, and of course always great to enjoy nature.  ETB

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Hiking Through Boulder Valley Ranch

November 9, 2017

Trail(s): Degge Trail to Hidden Valley Trail to Mesa Reservoir to Eagle Trail to Sage Trail to Cobalt Trail to Hidden Valley to Degge
Location: Boulder Valley Ranch
Fees: Free
Website: https://bouldercolorado.gov/osmp/boulder-valley-ranch-trailhead
Distance: 5.6 miles

On Thursdays, I aim for local hikes.  Today I picked one a mile north of Boulder at Boulder Valley Ranch.  We started at the Foothills Trailhead which actually shows up on Google Maps.

From the parking area, we walked up the road just briefly to find Degge Trailhead on the right hand side.  It had snowed on Tuesday (in Denver just a trace), but apparently in Boulder enough to melt and create a mud pit.  Within minutes, mud was caked to our trail shoes as we passed through a prairie dog colony.

After 0.4 miles on Degge Trail, we turned right onto Hidden Valley and wandered through the field toward a shooting range where we could hear one or two people practicing.  The trail offered a lovely view of the foothills behind us lightly dusted in snow.

After a mile in heavily weighted shoes, we reached Mesa Reservoir, where we followed the raised trail named for the body of water around its east side.  The reservoir was somewhat dry, but seemed like a nice habitat for birds.

From the reservoir, we left the “hiking only trails”, and joined the multi-use trails.  With a right turn on Eagle Trail, we descended a slick hill to a much wider, sun-dried path.  We followed Eagle Trail for 1.4 miles past another pond.  The tranquil water reflected images on its glass-like surface.

Soon we reached Sage Trail where we looped back toward our starting point.  More prairie dogs sure tempted Utani.  She was definitely leash bound today.  We followed Sage Trail for 1.1 miles past a field of cattails and a herd of cattle before we reached another parking area.

We passed through the parking area and joined Cobalt Trail, another “hiker only” option.  The trail passed beneath a 1930’s smelter before it reconnected with Hidden Valley Trail and Degge Trail.  Fortunately I had printed a map of the trail system, and Tanya took the time to navigate, as otherwise, I’m not sure how many small circles we would have made.

While the beginning of the hike didn’t seem terribly promising as we trudged through mud, as we carried on light snow and the sunny weather provided for a picturesque local excursion.  After connecting all the dots on the map, we ended up hiking a 5.6 mile loop before we stopped for some coffee!  ETB

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Hike in Golden

November 2, 2017

Trail(s): North Table Loop, Tablerock Trail, Mesa Top Trail, Tilting Mesa Trail
Location: North Table Mountain
Fees: Free
Website: https://www.jeffco.us/1427/North-Table-Mountain-Park
Elevation:6,000-6,400 feet
Distance: 5.3 miles roundtrip

Today I drove to Golden to hike at North Table Mountain Park, part of Jeffco Open Space.  Cottonwood Canyon Trail on the Southeast side of the park was closed due to rattlesnake activity, so I started at the West Trailhead and stuck to the west and north sections of the park.

I began on an easy section of North Table Loop and headed north through dormant grasses as I passed housing developments and an industrial park to the left that didn’t provide a terribly exciting view in my opinion.  I basically followed the outer edge of the park on this trail and Tablerock Trail for 2.5 miles until I reached the east side of the park where I turned into its center on Mesa Top Trail.

Mesa Top Trail is aptly named as I gained 400 feet in half a mile as I climbed to the top of the mesa.  To my surprise, I came across a small water fall at the top and then carried on along the flat dirt surface to small pond, a paradise for the ducks which floated across the tranquil water beneath the now sunny sky.

I began the hike beneath overcast skies and in cooler than expected temperatures, so I welcomed the sun as I crossed the grasslands on Tilting Mesa Trail before I began my descent down a steep section of North Table Loop that mostly followed a gravel or asphalt road (also somewhat unappealing).

While I enjoyed the middle section of the park, the outer section was not deep enough into nature for me.  Regardless, it was good to get out, explore, and get a five-mile hike under my belt (more fun than going to the gym).  ETB

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Visit Star K Ranch

October 21, 2017

Trail(s): Star K Ranch Loop and Sand Creek Greenway between Chambers and North Airport Blvd.
Location: Star K Ranch
Fees: Free
Website: https://www.auroragov.org/cms/One.aspx?portalId=1881221&pageId=5144852
Elevation: 5,280 feet
Distance: 3 miles roundtrip

I have a day care dog named Roo on Tuesdays now.  She is a Vizsla which is a dog breed from Hungary bred to work as a pointer.  Needless to say, she is energetic and goes on 18 mile trail runs with her owner.

I decided to take her to Star K Ranch, part of Aurora’s Open Space and home to Morrison Nature Center.  Since I had Roo with me, I didn’t visit the center, but I followed the west side of the loop trail to Sand Creek Greenway where I turned right and headed west.  We jogged the soft-surface, gravel trail to Chambers Road.  This short half mile led us past an industrial plant on the right and Sand Creek on the left.

At Chambers, we turned around and detoured off the main Sand Creek Trail and followed a single-track trail by the creek.  I found it more peaceful to be  closer to the tranquil water.  Soon the trail came to an end where we joined the Sand Creek Greenway again and followed it east to North Airport Blvd.

While the trail goes beneath both the roads we reached, running this segment both ways plus the loop at Star K Ranch added up to three miles, which is about my limit these days.  Poor Roo was probably sorely disappointed that her run was over as she was just getting warmed up.

It was nice to change up my three-mile run from the neighborhood to a trail along the grassy plain beneath the shade of cottonwoods.  And Roo enjoyed pointing at the rabbits that took cover in dormant bushes.  ETB

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Hiking the West Side of Mount Falcon Park

October 21, 2017

Trail(s):  Castle Trail to Meadow Trail to Old Ute Trail to Devil’s Elbow Trail to Old Ute Trail to Parmalee Trail
Location: Mount Falcon Park
Fees: Free
Website: http://jeffco.us/open-space/parks/mount-falcon-park/
Elevation: 6,000-7,600 feet
Distance: 4.9 miles roundtrip
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset daily

Another Saturday, another hike…or at least that is the goal!   Today Marissa, Ross, and I tackled a different section of Mount Falcon Park, this time from the west parking lot.

I failed to have a map with me, so we missed one segment on Tower Trail that I wanted to do, but with three dogs in tow, it was likely best, as getting tugged up and down anything steep would have been less fun.

We started out on Castle Trail and hiked to the ruins of John Brisben Walker’s castle which burned to the ground in 1918 after being struck by lightening.

Walker was a true Renaissance man.  He bought and sold the Cosmopolitan Magazine after increasing its circulation from 16,000 to 400,000 in six years; he built the longest COG railway in the world to the summit of Mount Morrison; he manufactured several models of automobiles and sponsored the first automobile race in the USA; and he invested in land including Mount Falcon and Red Rocks to which he built a road and trails, and promoted the venue as acoustically perfect for concerts.  These were  just a few of his endeavors.

After visiting the jagged, stone ruins, we moved on, following the undulating path through intermittent evergreen forest. The difference in the west side and east side of the park is pretty amazing.  The east side is much more desert like relative to the west side which is peppered with pine trees.

We were also lucky to find protection from the high winds on this brisk morning.  In fact, it felt much windier in Denver than at the park.  We went from donning gloves and a wool hat to stopping for water by the time we reached the sun drenched Parmalee Trail.  The cool temperatures, however, kept the wildlife out longer, and we spotted a few deer!

The dogs loved the hike as well, especially when they stopped for pats from all the volunteers working on the trail today.  After our short, two-hour hike, we stopped for lunch at the “World Famous” Sit-N-Bull.  It was 12:30pm, but only breakfast was being served.  OK, that was fine…I love breakfast, though I think having a beer with eggs was a first for us.  ETB

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Green Mountain Loop In Boulder

October 19, 2017

Trail(s): Green Mountain Loop
Location: Chautauqua Park
Fees: Free depending on parking area chosen
Website: https://bouldercolorado.gov/parks-rec/chautauqua-park
Elevation: 5,200-8,150 feet
Distance: 6.0 miles roundtrip
Hours: 5am to 11pm

It was a small miracle, but Tanya and I were finally able to connect on Thursday for a hike, only five months after our last one together! Clearly our schedules did not mesh, and when we first planned to hike Green Mountain Loop in Chautauqua Park in Boulder we expected we’d have some time restrictions, so we opted for a short and nearby hike.

Who knew a six mile hike beginning at 5,277 feet would take a full three hours! I failed to read the description before I picked the trail, and it was sort of hard for a local trek. After completion, we found it was rated difficult and the clockwise direction we took made it harder!

Fortunately, we snapped a photo of the sign at the trailhead as the Green Mountain Loop included a combination of several trails. We started on the 6th St. Connector Trail which took us to Meadow Trail. Meadow Trail, appropriately named, led us through a golden grassy meadow occasionally dotted with bushes turning brilliant red with the fall weather upon us.

Soon we reached Amphitheater, Saddle Rock, and EM Greenman Trails which all connected together to reach Green Mountain Summit at 8,144 feet. In Colorado, that’s not even close to high, but gaining 2,867 feet in three miles is steep. I had stopped to snap a photo of the natural rock stairs we were climbing as they looked lovely surrounded by fall foliage. Little did I know, I’d have countless opportunities for this. We climbed stairs almost the whole way up! Based on a 12 foot ceiling, that’s 239 stories over uneven steps.

At the top, we were blessed with views of snow capped mountains to the West and the City of Boulder to the East. We snacked on our lunch as a chipmunk tried doing the same, before we headed back down the mountain on Ranger Trail and through Gregory Canyon before we reached Baseline Trail to end the loop near our car. After initially climbing down a few stairs, we descended along a smooth dirt path peppered in pine needles. This way was much easier! Overall it was a lovely hike and we couldn’t have asked for a nicer day. ETB

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Strolling Along Sand Creek Greenway

January 20, 2017

I didn’t have much time for a hike today, but it was so nice out, I had to do something.  I decided to go check out Sand Creek Greenway again.  It had been awhile since I had visited the area, and the last time was on a mountain bike.

It’s nice to have wilderness, all be it not the mountains, just a ten minute car ride from my house.  I parked off Smith Road to the side of Bluff Lake Nature Center, gathered Ellie from the backseat, and headed out.

The dirt path was still partially snow-covered from the Monday’s storm as well as somewhat muddy from the snowmelt due mild weather…50 degrees!  I sort of wish the whole path was dirt rather than the intermittent dirt/concrete mix, but just to have an area that feels like wilderness so close to home is awesome.

It didn’t take long to spot wildlife.  Prairie dogs popped out of their holes and Ellie sure wanted a piece of them.  The same went for the bunnies that we came across later.  Fortunately, the ducks and geese weren’t as interesting to her.  I really enjoyed the flock of geese that glided above our heads and then swooped in for a landing on the frozen lake.  Many kept arriving forming a huge group that rested on the ice.

I always find it pleasant to hike near water features, and it was delightful to walk along the creek, though at times it was quite hidden by golden prairie grass and dormant cacti which provided great photos.  The views to the west of snow covered mountains didn’t disappoint on the return.

The trail goes on for miles and intersects with others along the way.  I can only imagine the distance.  With limited time, I think we probably only hiked a few miles, but it was better than nothing!

Afterwards, without Ellie, I made a quick stop into Bluff Lake Nature Center.  This might be my new place to run in order to save my knees from the pavement.  What a delightful adventure before my quick jaunt to Dallas to celebrate my mom’s birthday!  ETB

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Denver Brewery Tour

December 3, 2016

While Colorado may be known best internationally for being the first state to legalize marijuana, it is also very well known for its craft beers.  Breweries have become very popular, and they seem to be on every corner! A few of my friends from Dallas came into town, and of course, they wanted to try out a bunch of breweries.  As such, we created our own brewery tour.

Our first stop was at Great Divide Brewing Company which was opened in 1994 when Denver’s craft beer industry hardly existed.  Over time, Great Divide Brewing Company became one of America’s most decorated craft breweries.  While Eric tried the Yeti Beer which appeared to be pretty popular, Steve and I tried sample flights.  Both of us thought they were good and well priced!  The brewery sells a variety of T-shirts and such, but only popcorn for food.  A guacamole food truck was parked outside the brewery when we left around 1pm, but it wasn’t open yet.

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Our next stop was at Jagged Mountain Brewery just a few blocks from Great Divide.  Here I tried the Cougar Slayer.  With that name, it may have been better suited for a male, but the blackberry saison sounded good to me.  None of us tasted any blackberry in the Cougar Slayer, so that was a bummer, but the boys liked some of the other IPA’s.  Neither had seen a 17.5% alcohol beer, so Steve and Eric ordered it to share.  It tasted almost like molasses…it was very syrupy.  We really liked the vibe at this brewery that had much more seating than the Great Divide.  As with most breweries, it only sold popcorn, so it was time for us to find a place with food.

We headed the opposite direction from where we wanted to end up, but it wasn’t that long a walk…eight blocks or so to reach First Draft Taproom & Kitchen.  This taproom has 30+ beers on tap on the wall along with a few ciders and a few wines.  Most of the beers were Colorado crafts, yet some came from other states as well.  The lightest could be found on the left of the wall and they grew bolder to the right.  Guests can draw as much beer from each tap as they want…a one ounce or eight.  A card connected to our credit card tracked the amount of each pour.  There is a total limit which is probably a good way for the establishment to control guests over-serving themselves!  We all ordered food though I can’t say it was the best.  It was, however, sustenance.

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From First Draft we walked a bit to Wynkoop Brewing Company, located across from Union Station.  Wynkoop was started by John Hickenlooper (Colorado’s current governor), Jerry Williams, Mark Schiffler, and Russell Schehrer in the 80’s when LoDo (lower downtown Denver) was a ghost town.  Now, Wynkoop is a Denver institution in a hopping downtown.  Wynkoop brews its own beer, features guest beer, and has a full menu.  We tried one beer quickly before we took a break from breweries to go to the hockey game at the Pepsi Center.

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It only took about ten minutes to walk to the venue where the Dallas Stars were taking on the Colorado Avalanche in a division rivalry.  My Dallas friends were happy to see the Stars win…3-0!

Our final stop of the night was at Union Station.  Union Station was recently renovated, and is spectacular.  The building includes an expansive lobby with the Terminal Bar and a few shops surrounding it.  There are also a few fancy restaurants and a nice hotel.  The Terminal Bar is great!  We just joined the line at its window to order a beer and then headed to the shuffle board tables.  Some other folks joined us for some friendly competition.

Just as we were about to call it a night, I ran into my friend Marissa and her friend Catherine.  We caught up for awhile and then headed home.  We hardly made a dent in the breweries.  There were several more in the same vicinity.  My friends planned on trying more breweries tomorrow.  I opted for something a little more healthy tomorrow…a hike in the Rockies.  What a fun day though! ETB

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Root for the Rockies!

August, 2015

The Rockies
Location: Coors Field, 300 Blake St., Denver, CO 80205
Website:http://colorado.rockies.mlb.com/index.jsp?c_id=col

Fees: $4 and up

While the Rockies are last in their division, it is still fun to enjoy one of America’s past-times, a baseball game at Coors Field, especially when ticket prices start at only $4. While the Rockpile perhaps isn’t the most comfortable seating with bleachers, it is generally out of the direct sun, so the weather is quite pleasant.

The stadium is nice with lots of options, and if you are willing to walk 10 blocks or so, the parking is free. Better yet, ride bikes to the stadium and grab a bite to eat at the surrounding restaurants for a fun night out! ETB

Hiking Royal Arch Trail in Boulder

March 11, 2015

Royal Arch Trail
Location: SW of Boulder in Chautauqua Park
Round-trip: 3.2 miles
Elevation: 5,710-6,915
Fees: None

David and I arrived to Chautauqua Park in the late morning on Wednesday. The parking gods looked upon us as we snagged the last parking spot in the lot. We planned on hiking to the Royal Arch which I have wanted to do for a while now. It hadn’t snowed for a week and temperatures were unseasonably warm, so it looked like it might be a somewhat muddy trek as we surveyed the trail options.

We started out on Chautauqua Trail and trounced through the mud to a snowy path that ascended through the evergreen forest. After about half a mile we reached a trail intersection and began climbing toward the 3rd flatiron. The steep path weaved around snow-covered boulders. Soon we found the frozen-over compressed snow to be quite slick. We were wishing we had our hiking boots instead of trail runners, but happy to some of the few who came equipped with hiking poles.

As we pressed our poles down into the snow, others clinged to tree limbs. While we stopped plenty of times for photos, the one step forward, slide two-steps back process caused the 3.2 mile roundtrip hike with 1,400 feet of elevation to take much longer than we anticipated. Finally we reached the pass, where we were happy to see a mileage marker…a quarter of a mile to the arch!

Here we climbed down through a rocky chute, descended along the path briefly and then climbed up a small waterfall. Soon we arrived at the magnificent arch and spectacular views for our picnic lunch. After soaking in the sun beneath Colorado’s clear sky, we headed back down. This time I strapped on my micro-spikes. I thought they would be too large to use on my trail shoes, but thankfully, though slightly loose, they worked wonders. I should have strapped them on for the ascent as well, though the descent was harder, so I was happy to make life easier.

David is not a micro-spike owner, but after this hike may be a proud new owner. He followed a few fellow hikers lead and basically skied down the trail on his tennis shoes with only a few expected wipeouts. I managed to stay on my feet all the way down Royal Arch Trail and Blue Mesa Trail only to fall in the MUD about 100 yards from the car! Figures. Overall, it was a gorgeous hike and despite the slick conditions was worth the extra effort and extended time it took to reach the top. Fun day! ETB

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