heron at vanderbilt lake

The Platte River Trail: Vanderbilt to Frog Hollow

Being stuck in Colorado for the last nine months due to COVID has encouraged me to explore different areas of Denver and the surrounding metroplex.  I’ve already ridden the entire High Line Canal Trail both ways and have found some interesting parks and open spaces.  Now I’ve decided to spend more time on the Platte River Trail.

In the past, I have actually ridden the Platte Trail from Sand Creek north to 120th, from Sand Creek south to Confluence Park, and from Confluence Park south to Chatfield Reservoir.  As a result, I have covered all of the trail in the surrounding metroplex.  That said, I’ve never paid close attention to the parks and attractions along the way..

Today, I changed that as I strolled along the Platte River Trail with my dog Annie.  We began at Vanderbilt Park and headed north to Frog Hollow Park for a 5.2 mile roundtrip.

colorado sake co tasting

Colorado Sake Co: Tour and Tasting

With my knee surgery coming up in a week and consequently my hiking ending for the next month, I realized I need to find other things to do and to write about.  As a result, I signed up for a sake brewery tour and tasting at the Colorado Sake Co. in RiNo.

Though I’m not much of a drinker, learning how things are made fascinates me.  I knew very little about sake upon my arrival. Only that it has been made for centuries by fermenting rice and there are hot and cold options.  I was looking forward to learning more, despite my little to be desired, first sake experience 30 years ago.


The High Line Canal: Segments 8-11

Continuing our journey to cycle the entire High Canal Trail, Nancy and I set out on a Sunday evening to complete segments 8-11, approximately 20 miles.  Parking for the beginning of Segment 8 at mile 20.5 is on neighborhood streets near Horseshoe Park.  While the High Line Conservancy guide suggests parking at S Elati St., we followed Google maps to Horseshoe Park in Littleton (not Aurora).  The directions led us to a cul-de-sac next to the trail entrance.

train tracks

The High Line Canal: Segments 4-7

I’m finding a bit of a routine during COVID these days.  I go on weekday hikes to avoid the crowds and weekend bike rides to complete the High Line Canal.  Avoiding the crowds is for solitude in nature, not COVID, but it’s good to kills two birds with one stone.

This weekend, Nancy and I tackled another portion of the High Line Canal.  Our first ride covered segments 2 and 3, while our second stretched over segments 4-7.  Uniquely the segments are labeled differently between the Guide to the High Line Canal that I purchased from the conservancy and the online walking segments on their website.

Moving forward, I have chosen to reference the segments as they are listed in the book of which there are 27.  In my previous post, prior to receiving the guide in the mail, I claimed there were only 14.

ranch land on the high line canal

The High line Canal: Segments 2 and 3

When in Colorado for months due to the COVID crisis, why not take advantage of all the state has to offer.  While my outdoor preference is to hike in the Rocky Mountains, living in Denver, I can’t always be in the high country.  As a result, I thought why not hike and bike the High Line Canal.

I have walked, biked and even ridden horses on portions of the High Line Canal, but I have never completed it in its entirety.  I honestly didn’t know where it began or ended or if it was easily accessible in segments like the Colorado Trail.


Staycation: Colorado Dragon Boat Festival

The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is being held this weekend, July 27-28th.  I’ve always wanted to attend, and this weekend I finally did.  My friend Danelle joins Adaptive Adventures in the boat races, so I went to cheer her on.

The Colorado Dragon Boat Festival is free and is held at Sloan’s Lake Park.  Parking is not allowed, so it is best to find other means of transportation or to use the festival’s free shuttle which transports festival goers from the Auraria Campus regularly.  I coupled my visit with some exercise, rode my bike to the lake, and utilized the bike corals.

view from the deck at Colorado State Capitol

Staycation: Colorado State Capitol

Outside the Colorado State Capitol

The Colorado State Capitol building was opened in 1894 in Denver, Colorado.  It is constructed of Colorado white granite and topped with a copper dome that is gilded in gold leaf from a Colorado mine.  The capitol sits on the eastern edge of Denver’s Civic Center and houses the Colorado General Assembly as well as the offices of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Treasurer.

Outside, its western steps feature the official elevation of Denver.  The original marker on the fifteenth step is an engravement “One Mile High Above Sea Level”.  The elevation has been remeasured from time to time and as a result there is a marker on step 18 from 1969 and a marker on step 13 from 2003.


Enjoying the Sun in South Valley Park

South Valley Park
Fees: None
Website: http://jeffco.us/open-space/parks/south-valley-park/
Elevation: Around 6,000-6,200 feet
Distance: 7.4 miles of trails, My hike 3.4 miles
Hours: Daylight

I enjoyed a blue sky day at South Valley Park this morning. Part of JeffCo Open Space this park is open to hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The trails are of fine sand and meander through rocky spires and craggy outcroppings. While a few of the trails require some climbing most of the trails are relatively flat making this park nice for an easy day.

South Valley Park is part of the Dakota Formation. 100 million years ago as the Dakota Formation developed, dinosaurs roamed seaside beaches lined by dense forest. Now visitors to the park see the layers of rock that formed beneath Denver and were uplifted by the Golden Fault.

I started out in the smaller of the two parking lots at the Coyote Song Trailhead. The trail climbs to a junction at 0.8 miles where I followed Lyon Back Trail 0.2 to a lookout just outside the park boundaries. This trail connects to other trails in the Ken-Caryl Metropolitan District that I believe is private. After admiring the first wildflower blooms of the season, I turned around here, met the Coyote Song Trail and continued northwest until it crossed South Valley Road.

On the other side of the road, much to my dismay I followed the paved Valley View Trail for 1.2 miles. I was a little disappointed to be on asphalt, but it offered a nice view down the road which thankfully wasn’t busy. Valley View Trail intersected with Grazing Elk Trail back on the other side of the road. I followed it a short distance before connecting back to Coyote Song Trail to complete a 3.4 mile loop.

It was rather a short hike, though peaceful as the geese honked in the distance. The JeffCo Open-Spaces are a nice places to hike in April. While it is still snowy in the mountains, snow down near the Front Range is generally melted. The one thing that would make it better is if the trees would have leaves…soon I suppose! ETB


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Loved Eldorado Canyon State Park

Rattlesnake Gulch Trail
Location: Eldorado Canyon State Park
Fees: Day Use = $8, Annual = $70
Website: http://cpw.state.co.us/placestogo/Parks/eldoradocanyon
Elevation: 6,000-7,200 feet
Distance: 4 miles roundtrip
Hours: Sunrise to Sunset daily

Today I joined a meetup group for a hike in Eldorado Canyon State Park. I just had to get out as I don’t think I have enjoyed such glorious weather on an early March day in Colorado. The temperature was nearing 70 degrees beneath bluebird skies!

What added to the lovely weather was this spectacular park. I was pleasantly surprised by the landscape surrounding Rattlesnake Gulch Trail. We followed the 1.4 mile trail up to the ruins of Crags Hotel which burned in 1912 after operating for only four years. It’s hard to imagine this park used to be a resort, but in the early 1900’s visitors arrived by train from Denver to enjoy the hotel which even had an incline railway to transport guests in and out of the canyon.

From the hotel ruins, we turned toward the left and continued our climb along the loop that leads up to the railroad tracks. The tracks pass through two tunnels on the ridge owned by Union Pacific Railroad and continues through the Moffat Tunnel beneath the Continental Divide. Technically, we were not supposed to hike all the way to the tracks, but they were easy to reach. We were just mindful of train traffic…none to speak of while we were there.

We circled the loop and detoured off the path in a few places to admire the snow-covered continental divide before we headed back down to the parking lot. The creek that ran along the road to the parking area was also lovely. I really liked this park…so much so, that two days later, David and I took Toby for hike in another area nearby the park. ETB



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