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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 getting enough exercise.” But walking the dog shouldn’t just be a bit of exercise. Here are 10 cool things you can see around Colorado Springs while hiking with your dog.
The New Santa Fe Trail stretches more than five miles through the United States Air Force Academy, and with your eyes skyward, you can see paratroopers and gliders training from the trail. From the Thunderbird Overlook, you can watch cadets maneuver all kinds of aircraft, from sailplanes to military jets.
Abert’s squirrel is easily recognizable by its tufted ears and dapper white legs. Abert’s squirrels are almost totally dependent on ponderosa pine for their existence. They nibble on the inner bark and swallow the tree’s buds, seeds, and flowers. In the branches they build nests of twigs. Active during the day, a good place to spot Abert’s squirrel is along trails in the Black Forest where two out of three squirrels in the woods are Aberts.
BALD EAGLES AND PERERGIAN FALCON
Hike through the dead treetops on the multi-use trail north of Fountain Creek Regional Park. Here, along the creek, two bald eagles have made their home, feasting on the rich variety of wildlife drawn to this rich diversity of this park.
A dozen species of orchids grow naturally in Colorado and the largest, the yellow lady’s slipper, is found in this region. Also known as moccasin flower, the plant can be recognized by its pointed emerald green leaves and yellow shoe-shaped flowers. Look for it growing alone in aspen glades in humid conditions. Go find one on the Lovell Gulch trail in Woodland Park.
COLORADO STATE ANIMAL
There are more bighorn sheep in Colorado than anywhere in America and it is the state animal. Greyish-brown in color with a white patch on the rump, the showy curled horns can make up 10% of the sheep’s 200 to 250 pounds of body weight. A herd on Pikes Peak numbers around 300 animals and look for them while hiking near treeline, foraging in grasslands, woodlands and alpine tundra. Sheep are not picky eaters – any of the 100 different plant species will make a good meal.
Catamount Falls on the Catamount Trail is an all-season delight and is near the trailhead, making it accessible to all levels of canine hiker. In winter, the frozen surface hides the running water under a thick layer of ice. True diving water aficionados will want to visit Helen Hunt Falls and hike to St. Marys Falls in North Cheyenne Canon Park. No study of waterfalls in El Paso County would be complete without an easy hike to the waterfall spur on the Paul Intemann Trail in Bear Creek Regional Park.
When hiking around Colorado Springs, you are often walking on the bottom of an ancient ocean. When the waters have receded, there remain rock formations sculpted by water and wind that often defy description. The Garden of the Gods are the paths that everyone travels for its famous red rocks; for white sandstone formations, try hiking the Mount Herman Trail.
Many plants depend solely on the whims of feeding birds to spread their seeds and expand their range. Popping mistletoe is not. A light shove on this parasitic plant while hiking the trail detonates a quiet botanical explosion that propels a seed up to 40 feet. Mistletoe is part of the rich understory of ground cover in Fox Run Regional Park.
SPORTS HALL OF FAME
After climbing Pikes Peak on the Barr Trail – the longest fourteen-year-old summit trail in Colorado – you can study the names of members of the United States Olympic Hall of Fame, engraved on a plaque overlooking the America. After several decades of international sporting success, the United States began to lag behind other countries in the 1970s. Until then, athletes trained on their own without any government support. Colorado Springs was chosen as the site of the new Olympic training center in 1977, in part for the opportunity to have athletes training at high altitudes in the foothills.
The Starsmore Discovery Center in North Cheyenne Canon Park is a 1920s stone house originally located on the Nevada and Cheyenne roads. The 250-ton stone building was moved to the mouth of Cheyenne Canyon to serve as an education center. Your dog can’t visit, but you can see historic Rock Ledge Ranch on a hike through Garden of the Gods.
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