Posted on January 11, 2018 by Melissa Rucker
On the first morning of the new year, three groups of hikers led by naturalist guides traversed Roxborough State Park as part of the park’s First Day Hike event.
First Day leaders connected attendees with the area’s nature and geology by pointing out plants, wildlife and their tracks and geological formations. Hikers were treated to a wealth of knowledge about the ecosystem, human impacts to the park and more.
According to the state park, 49 hikers joined the First Day festivities among three routes with five guides leading the way. Participants chose between Carpenter Peak, Fountain Valley and South Rim trails to ring in the new year.
Juliana Godsey of Littleton hiked the 2.2-mile Fountain Valley Trail with her husband, Jeff, and sons, Lucas, 21, and Ryan, 10. The family, formerly of Illinois, picked this trail because of their newness to Colorado and the state’s altitude.
“We absolutely loved the hike,” she said. “It was the perfect length and and challenge for us and the kids, especially since we have not hiked around in colder weather. It was about 28 degrees, but we must have dressed appropriately as we were very comfortable during the hike.”
The five guides dispersed among the three groups were naturalists educated about Roxborough State Park and its wild residents and natural features.
By the numbers:
11.6 trail miles
“The best part was having the guides, Sue and Jim Schleuder,” Godsey said. “They were so kind and knowledgeable about the area (that) we really learned a lot. Sue was great with our youngest son; she pointed out plant life, provided him a tracking book with footprints to look for and was very encouraging about coming back to look for new things soon.”
One of the great features of living in Colorado is availability of hiking trails or parks, which are predominately free to enjoy.
“When I saw that New Year’s Day was free guided hikes, I thought there was no better way to start 2018 than to get out and do something we normally wouldn’t be doing. It was a challenge getting the family up and moving after New Year’s Eve celebrations, but we were all happy we were able to get out take advantage of this opportunity.”
The hikers, who braved the cold and sometimes icy conditions on the trails, began their treks with temperatures in the upper 20s. In addition to the benefits of the air in their lungs and the friendly guides’ wisdom, several groups reported wildlife sightings of a mule deer herd and golden and bald eagles.
“We got to see about 20 or so mule deer, who came very close and one even crossing the trail in front of us,” Godsey said. “Sue, the guide, told us a lot about the mule deer compared to the type of deer we would normally see in Illinois. We even saw a few bucks with large antlers.”
Concerning the trail conditions, she said, “There was a bit of ice and snow on the trails in parts. It made it a perfect challenge, and our youngest son loved finding his way through the icy spots.”
The event description recommended that hikers bring traction or hiking poles. Traction devices, sometimes called crampons or microspikes, come in a hiking style that can be purchased at many outdoor stores or online. These can be pulled on to the bottom of a boot and provide extra traction over ice-packed surfaces via the chain or spike features. They are not a necessity for hiking Colorado in winter months but can prove useful on the most slippery surfaces.
Based on their experience, Godsey said she and her family plan to return to the park soon.
“We will definitely be back soon to try the South Rim Trail – and hopefully someday Carpenter’s Peak!”
The First Day Hike, like many Roxborough State Park events, was free to attend with admission through the gate. A single-vehicle entry fee is $7 or an annual pass can be purchased for $70. Large groups can purchase passes at discounted rates. Visit the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website, any state park or CPW office to purchase passes or learn more.
Also be sure to register for park events on Event Brite, which is how organizers keep track of who is attending the limited-space offerings.
Long-time Roxborough residents may be well-versed on the types of wildlife that can be encountered in the park year-round, including coyote, mountain lion, deer, fox, bobcat and bear. Residents who are unfamiliar with living and recreating among wildlife should look to the Colorado Parks & Wildlife website to learn more about these animals and gather valuable safety tips to keep in mind on area trails.
Other Roxborough-area upcoming events to note for those interested in bettering their health in 2018 will be added to the Roxborough Living calendar as announced. If readers have an event to submit, please email Roxborough Living or respond to this blog post.