As the state eases restrictions and summer comes into full view, we're wanting to get outside more and more--but we also need to avoid overcrowding popular spaces and maintain a safe distance from others.
That's why we're introducing a new weekly series called Nature's Neighborhood. Every week, Susan Davies of the Trails and Open Space Coalition will highlight some lesser known parks, trails and walking areas in the Pikes Peak region.
The areas are included in the organization's new initiative, Get Out Spread Out, which encourages people to avoid overcrowding parks by offering over 100 locations to explore across the region. Today she discusses a trail featuring natural rock formations and an alternative path in a well-known park.
Woodmen Valley Park
Right now, playgrounds in the region are closed, but we have so many parks and open spaces filled with natural playgrounds: rocks, trees, sometimes even these have water. I'd suggest checking out Woodmen Valley Park along West Woodmen Road. It's a small neighborhood park with a big field for throwing a frisbee or kicking a ball, but at the back of the park you're going to find a trail.
It winds through really neat rock formations. You'll see something called hoodoos, which are unique to this area. It'll also take you to some overlooks and feature Ute Prayer Trees, which have a bend in their lower half. There are lots of nooks and crannies for kids to explore along the trail. There's also plenty of street parking along Woodmen Road.
Ute Valley Park
Further to the south, just along I-25, you can check out the east end of Ute Valley Park. The Black and Blue Loop Trail features bridges for kids to explore, including a natural rock bridge. Ute Valley Park is popular: the western half is usually crowded, but the eastern half hardly gets any traffic at all. It's really worth checking out.
When visiting local parks, state guidelines for COVID-19 are to maintain a 6-foot distance and gather in groups of 10 or fewer. Explore your local parks and recreation departments to see what parks and trails are open in your neighborhood.