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Doggin’ Colorado Springs, Colorado: 10 Cool Things To See While You Hike With Your Dog
“If your dog is fat,” the old saying goes, “you’re not exercising enough.” But walking the dog doesn’t have to be just a little exercise. Here are 10 cool things to see around Colorado Springs while hiking with your dog.
The New Santa Fe Trail runs more than five miles through the United States Air Force Academy, and looking skyward you can see paratroopers and gliders practicing from the trail. From the Thunderbird lookout, you can watch cadets fly all kinds of aircraft, from gliders to military jets.
Abert’s squirrel is easy to recognize by its tufted ears and ornate white paws. Abert’s squirrels rely almost entirely on the Ponderosa pine for their existence. They nibble the inner bark and swallow the buds, seeds and flowers from the tree. They build branch nests up in the branches. Active during the day, a good place to spot the Abert’s squirrel is along the Black Forest trails where two out of every three squirrels are in the Abert’s forest.
WHITE EAGLES AND GRAY FALCONS
Scan the tops of dead trees as you make your way along the multi-use trail north of Fountain Creek Regional Park. Here, along the creek, two golden eagles roost, enjoying the rich variety of wildlife attracted to this park’s rich diversity.
About a dozen species of orchids grow naturally in Colorado, and the largest, the yellow lady’s slipper, is found in this area. Also known as the moccasin flower, the plant is recognizable by its spiky emerald green leaves and yellow shoe-shaped flowers. Look for it growing alone in aspen glades in moist conditions. Find one on the Lovell Gulch Trail from Woodland Park.
THE STATE ANIMAL OF COLORADO
There are more bighorn sheep in Colorado than anywhere else in America and it is the state animal. Grayish-brown in color with a white spot on the rump, the showy pig horns can make up 10% of a 200-250 pound sheep’s body weight. The Pikes Peak herd numbers about 300 animals and you look for them as you hike near the forest line feeding on meadows, forests and alpine tundra. Bighorns are not picky eaters – any of 100 different types of plants will make a good meal.
Catamount Falls on the Catamount Trail is a delight in any season and is located close to the trailhead making it accessible to hikers of all skill levels. In winter, the frozen surface hides the racing water under a thick layer of ice. True scuba divers will want to visit Helen Hunt Falls and hike to St. Marys at North Cheyenne Canon Park. No overview of the waterfalls of El Paso County would be complete without a leisurely hike to the Waterfall Spur on the Paul Intemann Trail in Bear Creek Regional Park.
When you hike around Colorado Springs you are often hiking on the bottom of an ancient ocean. When the waters receded, what remained were rock formations carved by water and wind that often cannot be described. The Garden of the Gods are the paths that everyone goes to because of their famous red rocks; for white sandstone formations, try hiking the Mount Herman Trail.
Many plants rely solely on the whims of feeding birds to spread their seeds and expand their range. Not so popping mistletoe. A gentle push of this parasitic plant as you walk along the path detonates a silent botanical explosion that propels the seeds as far as 40 feet away. Mistletoe is part of the rich ground cover in Fox Run Regional Park.
SPORTS HALL OF FAME
After climbing to the top of Pikes Peak on the Barr Trail—the longest trail to the summit in 14 years in Colorado—you can study the names of the members of the United States Olympic Hall of Fame, engraved on a plaque overlooking America. After many decades of international sporting success, the United States began to fall behind other countries in the 1970s. Until that moment, the athletes trained alone, without state support. Colorado Springs was chosen as the site for the new Olympic Training Center in 1977, in part because of the opportunity for athletes to train at the high altitude in the foothills.
The Starsmore Discovery Center in North Cheyenne Canon Park is a 1920s stone house originally on Nevada and Cheyenne roads. The 250-ton stone building was moved to the mouth of Cheyenne Canyon to serve as an educational center. Your dog can’t visit, but you can see the historic Rock Ledge Ranch while hiking in the Garden of the Gods.
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