Roadtrip to the Rockies: Flying J Ranch

Trail: Shadow Pine Loop and Junction House Trailhead
Distance: 4.1 miles
Elevation: 7,500- 8,700

I’ve driven by Flying J Ranch a few times though I have never stopped to check the place out.  Today, with Sheena, a pretty fit German Shephard, though at 8 slightly elderly, I thought it might be a nice place for a leisurely hike.

I parked in the main parking area to explore the 2.9 mile Shadow Pine Loop.  I was really hoping to complete four miles today, so I added on an out and back trail called Junction House which was an additional 1.2 mile roundtrip.  I think it would have been better to park at the Junction House Trailhead, so the out and back across a boardwalk through the meadow with a lovely view had a little more meaning than simply extra mileage.

Sheena and I hiked the Shadow Pine Loop (very appropriately named) counter clockwise and slowly gained about 1,200 feet in elevation as we strolled through the shade of the lodge pole pine forest.  The undulating dirt path seemed popular among the locals.  Many runners and friends with dogs appeared to be out for their Sunday morning exercise as the woodpeckers attacked the trees and birds chirped overhead.

I was pleasantly surprised by this Jeffco Open Space park.  This park would be great for trail running and for bringing out of town visitors to the mountains, as the elevation change is gradual.  In addition, the bathrooms in the parking area had flush toilets and were very nice!  The only downside would be that there wasn’t much of a water feature.  The path did criss-cross a small stream, though I think later in the summer it would be close to dry.  It was a beautiful day in the foothills!  ETB


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