Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Black Forest Regional Park, El Paso County

Black Forest Regional Park
El Paso County

Date Hiked: Feb 25, 2012

Distance: 3.4 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 300ft
Elevation Min/Max: 7,263 to 7,518ft
Managing Agency: El Paso County
Fee: None

Black Forest Regional Park Trail Map
Black Forest Regional Park Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  From Colorado Springs and I-25 take Interquest Parkway (83) east to Shoup Road.  Make a right (east) on Shoup Road and turn left (north) onto Milam Road.  There are 3 parking areas on Milam road all of which access the park’s White Loop.

Black Forest Regional Park is an interesting place.  The forest itself is beautiful even though it is surrounded by residential subdivisions.  The park presents a natural area in the Black Forest region east of Colorado Springs.  The Black Forest is a bit of an oddity, surrounded by the eastern plains there is a vast forest usually reserved for the Front Range Foothills.  The elevation is higher than the neighboring Colorado Springs allowing pine and evergreen trees to flourish.  The area also gets some, but less, snow in the winter making hiking here a year round activity.

The park is made up of 3 loops, but the signage could use some improvement and there are many social trails intersecting the actual trails.  Try to follow the main loops but if you get lost, the way I did, then it is actually fairly easy to find your way back to the parking areas.  If you hiked all the loops in the park you would still only hike about 4 miles, so don’t panic if you lose your way on a social trail.  The best advice that I can give is that you should just go and explore this area, make your own loops, and enjoy!

For this hike, I started at the north parking area on Milam Road, starting in the middle of the white loop (at the time the trail maps said that this was the start of the White Loop, I think the park has expanded since I last visited).  Head north on the trail until you reach a small shelter.  From here you can pick up the yellow or red trails, the red trail will take you further north and the start of the Cathedral Pines Trail System.  Follow the red loop to the west and south heading back towards the White Loop.  At some point, I followed a social trail that took me further west than I wanted to go, where I ran into a fence.  From here the social trail headed due south where I eventually ran into a stable and maintenance area.  Turning around, I eventually found my way back to the Red Loop and the Shelter.  From here, the trail White Loop was easy enough to follow back to the Parking Area.  I'd love you tell you exactly where I went wrong, but honestly I don't know.  Follow the signs best you can, and remember that the park is relatively small and you'll eventually find your way.

Fallen Timbers Wilderness Area, Fox Run Regional Park

Fallen Timbers Wilderness Area
Fox Run Regional Park

Date Hiked:  Feb 25, 2012

Distance: 2.6 mi (RT)
Elevation Gain: 300ft
Elevation Min/Max: 7,287 to 7,545ft
Managing Agency: El Paso County
Fee: None

Fox Run Regional Park Trail Map (El Paso Co.)
Fox Run Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions: From Colorado Springs take I-25 take exit 156A to Northgate Blvd.  Head east on N. Gate Blvd and turn left (north) on Old North Gate Rd and left again on Roller Coaster Rd.  Turn left (west) on Stella Drive and right into the park’s main entrance.  At the intersection turn right, then left towards the picnic and lakes area.  The trailhead is across the road from Spruce Lake and the Wedding Gazebo.

Fox Run Regional Park is a pretty park located in the northern part of the Black Forest of El Paso County.  The park has many recreational facilities including a trail system in the Fallen Timbers Wilderness Area.  There is a double loop trail in the northern section of the park and a trail in the eastern section as well.  This hike follows the northern loop.

From the lakes area head north for almost .3 miles to the Fallen Timbers Loop Area.  Turn right and follow the trail through the woods when you reach the junction .3 mi into the loop, you can either stay straight for .5 mi to complete the loop or turn left and cut off the eastern portion of the loop.  Turning left saves you .2 miles.  Either way when you reach the northern intersection continue to the west for .6 miles to complete the loop and rejoin the connector trail that you started on heading back to the lakes and the trailhead.

The trails here are short, but pleasant and the forest is impressive.   There is also a dog park, picnic areas, and other recreational activities that you can combine with the hike for a pleasant afternoon in the Black Forest.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park

Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park

Date Hiked: Feb 24, 2012

Distance: 1.8 mi
Elevation Gain: 150ft
Elevation Min/Max: 5,633 – 5,746
Managing Agency: Arapahoe County/Parker Jordan Metropolitan District
Fee: No

Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park Website (Arapahoe County)
Cherry Creek Ecological Park Website (PJMD)
Park Map & Brochure (PJMD)
Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions: From Denver take I-25 South to 225 North. Exit onto S. Parker Road and head south past E. Arapaho Road.  Turn right (west) on E. Broncos Parkway, right (north) on Jamison Drive and right into the park.

The Cherry Creek Valley Ecological Park is a natural area bordering along Cherry Creek.  The park offers nature education through programs and a self-guiding nature trail.  The trail is made up of paved routes, boardwalks protecting sensitive habitat, and natural surface trails.  The trails meet up with the  Happy Canyon Trail and the Cherry Creek Trail allowing you to extend your hike beyond the 25 acre park.