Nature’s Neighborhood: John Venezia Park, Niobrara Trail

July 16, 2020
John Venezia Park is a neighborhood spot to take a short hike or relax with friends.John Venezia Park is a neighborhood spot to take a short hike or relax with friends. Courtesy of Susan Davies / Trails and Open Space Coalition
John Venezia Park is a neighborhood spot to take a short hike or relax with friends.

Susan Davies of the Trails and Open Space Coalition has a few ideas about parks to explore around the Pikes Peak Region. This week on Nature's Neighborhood, Davies shares two lesser-known spaces for rest and relaxation that will help you get away from the crowds and enjoy the outdoors.

A picture of the "Lost Boys Hideout," a large brush area for exploring in the middle of a field.Credit Courtesy of Susan Davies / Trails and Open Space Coalition
John Venezia Park is one spot to visit in the Pikes Peak Region to avoid crowds and get outside.

John Venezia Park

If you're looking for a short hike with dogs and kids, check out John Venezia Park. The park itself can become pretty crowded because it has a fabulous playground and a splash pad.

You can access the trails from the southern side from the Academy International Elementary School and take a nice one mile hike. If you'd like a little less wilderness, there's a short hardpack track within the park and in season you're going to find a wide variety of birds and flowers.

A photo of a dirt-packed trail with short trees in the distance.Credit Courtesy of Susan Davies / Trails and Open Space Coalition
The Niobrara Trail is one way to explore Garden of the Gods while avoiding crowds.

Niobrara Trail

While the central portion of the Garden of the Gods may be too crowded to allow for good social distancing, there is a little known trail that provides great views with solitude. Of the park's more than 1300 acres, the Niobrara Trail is a small, less traveled section on the south east side of the park.

Many trails branch off from this one, including one that will take you all the way to Rock Ledge Ranch. Discover another piece of history as you stroll along an old dam with some remaining stonework and a view of a dry, no longer used reservoir.