Stay on the freaking trail!……please.

I just about lost it the other day, guys. Just about flipped my lid, gone ballistic, hit the ceiling. Lost it.

There I was, deep in the throws of a runner’s high, jogging along, minding my own business. As I stepped to the side to let a biker pass, I looked up ahead. In the distance, I saw a handful of people off the trail, down the side of a steep, grassy hill. Giving them the benefit of the doubt, I thought, “Maybe someone slipped and the others were helping them out.”

I kept on running and they got back on the trail. I was getting closer and closer to this group of people and as I rounded the last turned toward the parking lot, I look to my right and find them off the trail again.  They were cutting that last little bit of trail back to their car.

Seriously!?

First of all, they literally only cut off less than a tenth of a mile. Second, THERE’S A FENCE! A WOODEN FENCE purposely put up so that people WOULDN’T cut the trail right there. Both ends of their “I don’t give a fuck”  trail, their shortcut,  is fenced off. AND, their car was at the other end of the parking lot, where the REAL trail spits you out.

I rarely have outbursts but aloud said, “Stay on the trail, people. If we keep doing stuff like that we’ll not have nice things anymore.”

The just looked at me and kept on walking through the tall grass. I wanted to say so much more, but unfortunately, I don’t think it would have made a difference and I probably wouldn’t have done it appropriately. I can’t even express how much this bothers me.

Seriously, if people keep doing this, over and over, we wouldn’t have any trails or beautiful grass fields to hike and run through. It would be all one giant dirt hill and that wouldn’t be any fun. It would be boring and ugly, not to mention all the plants and animals that would be lost. This particular trail is Green Mountain in Lakewood. It is a great place to train on while being really close to work. It’s across the street from where I coach track. Talk about convenient. But just because it’s near the city, doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be treated just like all the rest of the trails.

“Stay on trail.” There are signs, they are clearly visible, and there are FREAKING FENCES!

Staying on the trails isn’t just a silly “rule.” On a well-used trail like this one, it’s the only thing from keeping the whole thing from eroding out. Don’t even get me started on social trails or walking parallel to a trail when it’s muddy. (Singletracks becoming double, and getting wider and wider every year.)

This is an example of erosion at Green Mountain after people walk to the side during the mud. Before you know it, the grass in between will get worn out and it’s not twice as wide. Then the process repeats.

Walk through the mud people. Better yet, if it’s really, REALLY muddy, just stay away!

And I totally understand that some cultures just don’t have the same values for nature and our planet as others, but then again why are you even out on the trails in the first place!? Language is not a barrier when THERE’S A FREAKIN’ FENCE!

I don’t know why this makes me so mad. Maybe it’s because I can see the signs of overuse, not picking up trash, and trail cutting in the areas nearby to where I live. They have even closed down a popular Evergreen park because people wouldn’t pick up their dogs’ poop. (Oh, I could go on for hours on poop bags. You KNOW you are not going to pick it up on the way back; don’t leave it there. At that rate, just let your dog poop out in the open. That’s better for the environment than a plastic bag!)

This is not from the trail I was on. Maybe it needs to be, because clearly a fence is not enough.

With more and more people moving to Colorado and visiting every year, it’s important to educate people. Just saying “don’t do this, don’t do that” isn’t enough anymore. Deep in my heart, I’d like to think people want to do the right thing but don’t because they can’t see the effects of their actions, or out-right don’t know, they don’t follow the “rules.”

Hmm… maybe I should have stayed on the conservation biology track. Or maybe I can help out on my own through my blog, social media, and word of mouth.

Excuse me, I’ve got some brainstorming, planning, and work to do.

#SorryfortheRant

#LeaveNoTrace

Sign at a different park.

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Boulder: Walden Ponds

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(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles Denver Edition.” You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #5 – Boulder – Walden Ponds
Completed: 1/22/17 | Mode: Running!
Location: Boulder, about 75th and Jay Rd
Distance: 2.5 miles
Difficulty:  Easy, peasy
Surface: Hard packed dirt
Exposure: Lots of shade

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My Experience:
After driving through peaceful, organic farming land, I got to a lot of old warehouses,  buildings that just looked abandoned, and actually abandoned buildings. I was thinking there is no way that a nice trail listed in this book would be out here. Sure enough, one block later, there was Walden Ponds trailhead. If you can’t tell already, this wasn’t one of my favorites. What used to be gravel pits have filled with water over the years and with it, a lot of wildlife. All I saw was a lot of ducks and other birds. Although there were some beautiful views, I couldn’t get over the smell of the nearby water treatment plant. Did I paint a good enough picture for you?

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You can see all the buildings on the other side of the pond, one of which is the water treatment plant.

Pros:
-Beautiful view to one side
-Flat, shady and lots of different loop options.
-A lot of wildlife

Cons:
-Smelly, literally
-Crowded
-Bird watchers (I felt kind of bad blazing through with the sound of my running)

Tips:
-Don’t go to this trail 😉
-In all seriousness, this would be a great family trail because there is pamphlet that points out all the wildlife.

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Overall:
I’m not quite sure why this trail is in the book. I can’t tell if the book was written for people from out of town or people living in Denver. Either way, it could have been left out. Sure, there’s a pretty view of the mountains, but there’s just as beautiful landscape at much better trails. If you’re nearby and want to get in a loop run, go here. If you’re far, or from out of town, it’s not worth the drive.

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#60HikesDenverChallenge – Red Rocks: Trading Post Trail

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(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles Denver Edition.” You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

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Trail #28 – Red Rocks: Trading Post Trail
Completed: 1/8/17 | Mode: Run/Hike
Location: Morrison – Approx. HW 8 & C-470 (northwest of here by the Red Rocks Amphitheater)
Distance: 1.5 miles
Difficulty: Easy to moderate
Surface: Single track, hard packed dirt with some big rocks
Exposure: Minimal shade

My Experience:
After a few days of being stuck inside due to bad snow storms, it was finally time to get outside. Intent on going snowboarding, my plans changed when the boyfriend came down with the flu. I didn’t want to go alone nor leave him by himself for too long, so I opted to try a trail from the book. It was a  sunny winter day (my favorite type of winter day) and the two layers I chose to run in seemed to be too much. Not having exercised much in the past week I opted to just doing the loop once and that turned out to be enough due to the condition of the trail and the direction I chose to run. (The trail is a loop and the book describes going counter clock wise while I chose the opposite and ended up with more uphill than down hill).

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Pros:
-BEAUTIFUL!
-A great place to really experience Colorado
-Easy trail overall, but has some good, gradual climbs
-Easy access to other trails
-Easy access to Red Rocks Amphitheater (where you can do some stairs and other great workouts)
-Facilites nearby

Cons:
-Crowded (even on a winter day)
-Tourist destination (adding to the above con)

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Tips:
-This is a great one during the winter since it sees a lot of sun.
-If you’re looking for more mileage, do this twice (or more), switching directions for more of a challenge.
-Side note tip: If you haven’t been to a concert at Red Rocks, you NEED to

Overall:
I had a great, beautiful run even though I ran into a lot of people (some rude) that didn’t know trail etiquette. This is a popular trail for families and people from out-of-town. If you’re a local and are seeking a trail run, avoid this area and choose one of the other great nearby trails (like Mathew/Winters or Dino Ridge). If you’re trying to show some visitors from out-of-town some great Colorado sites (or are from out-of-town yourself), bring them here and walk this trail!

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#60HikesDenverChallenge – Westminster: Colorado Hills Trail

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If you caught my 2017 New Year’s resolutions post, you found out that one of my resolutions is to get through all the hikes in the “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles” Denver Edition book. I thought I would get a good start on this goal and get one crossed off on the 1st day of the year! (I’ll be doing these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time. The number is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

After working a race New Year’s Day with 3W Races, I hit the trails by our work headquarters. It just so happens it is one of the trails in the book. Very convenient!

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Trail #30 – Westminster: Colorado Hills Trail
Completed: 1/1/17 | Mode: Run/walk
-Location: Approximately Simms & 107th Ave in Westminster (just northwest of Standley Lake)
-Distance: 4.4 miles (but there are a lot of other paths in and around this area)
-Difficulty: Easy (it’s pretty flat for the most part)
-Surface: Packed dirt with lots of loose rocks
-Exposure: No shade!

My Experience: 
Described in the book as a quiet, lonely trail with beautiful views. Depending on when you go, you might not get the same experience. I went on a Sunday, New Years Day to be exact, and there was a ton of people. However, most were congregated pretty close to the trailhead which is also an open, off-leash dog park. After leaving the congestion, you have peaceful double track trails surround by grass blowing in the wind and beautiful views. I ran in to a few more people, but there was plenty of room to run around them.

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In the distance you see the Flatirons and mountains behind them. It’s beautiful, even on a partly cloudy day winter day!

Pros:
-Beautiful views – I bet they are even more pretty in the summer!
-Easy and flat
-Lots of options to extend or decrease your mileage

Cons: 
-Lots of off-leash dogs! (Although, could be a pro if you’re like me and love dogs. I definitely paused my run to pet a few). Though, everyone was super respectful and I didn’t run into any issues.
-No facilities, not even a port-o-john. No water either.
-This area is prone for rattlesnakes. If you visit in the summer, be aware of where you’re stepping!
-Big, loose rocks. You can’t just zone out, you have to watch your step so you don’t roll your ankle.
-No shade whatsoever!
-Can be pretty crowded (with people and dogs)

Tips:
-If you’re just there to run (as opposed to bringing your dog) park in the southern lot.
-Make sure you bring water for this one! It’s very exposed and there is no fountain.

Overall:
I’d give this trail a 3/5. You can get decent, easy mirage but it’s really exposed and can be crowded. I wouldn’t travel to this trail, but would run it again when I’m at work since it’s literally across the street.

The turn around spot to the trail, Mower Reservoir

The turn around spot to the trail, Mower Reservoir


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