Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Flying J Ranch Open Space Park; a short hike after a road closure stopped me in my tracks.

I woke up this morning ready to hike a bigger mountain; it was a sunny day, the snow had melted, and I was ready to climb! 
Rosedale Peak is a 13,000 foot peak in the foothills just about an hour from my home.  After checking online, I thought I could make it up the dirt road to access the trailhead at this time of the season.  After an hour drive in clear blue skies with huge peaks all around me, I arrived on the final road to my destination.  The road was closed just 100 yards from the main road and the trailhead was 3 miles farther west up the road.  At this point I decided to park my truck on the side of the road and hike up; it was still a beautiful, secluded and a pretty road.  So I loaded up my gear with two very excited dogs ready to hike, and then sadly realized that I had forgotten one major thing, my hat!  There is no way that I could hike at 10,000 feet without a hat in 35 degree weather.  Disappointed, I went back to my truck after hiking just 400 yards and knowing for sure it was too windy and cold to go on without a hat.  I decided to drive about 30 minutes back east and hike outside the town of Aspen Park, at the Flying J Ranch, the only Open Space Park in Jefferson County that I have never visited before.  

Getting There
The Flying J Park is located southwest of the Denver metro area near Aspen Park Colorado.  From the Denver metro area take C-470 to highway 285 West and head into the mountains.  Drive on 285 southwest into toward Fairplay for 13.2 miles.  Turn Right onto Barkley Road for just a 1/2 mile, next turn north on highway 73.  The main entrance to the Park is on Hwy 73 just shortly after the turn.  There is a second parking lot at the intersection of Shadow Drive and Hwy 73.  Click here for google map of the park and directions.  The Jefferson County Open Space provides directions also here

The Park
The Flying J Ranch is a fitting name for the Park which has a historic airplane runway that was built by Captain John
Schoonhoven.  The park grounds are very beautiful; there are several places for a picnic in the shelters provided overlooking the meadows and runray strip.  The park is smaller than many of the Open Space parks; and there is a simple 2.4 mile loop trail that winds through the pine forests.   After getting my hopes up to hike a 13,000 foot peak, the meandering through the pines was not what I had hoped for, but it was a pretty hike nonetheless.   The trail is easy to follow and great for the summer months due to the ample shade and picnic areas. The stroll through the trees reminded me of Michigan, where I grew up, and I will definitely bring my mom here sometime for the easy hike and a picnic lunch.

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