Outdoors

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Let's talk about maps

Posted By on Sat, Aug 27, 2016 at 8:00 AM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
There are many necessities for hiking: Appropriate footwear, food, water, rain gear, flashlight, an extra layer of clothes, and maps. Want to look for a new trail to hike? Pull out a map and look for trails you haven't done yet. Are you out on a trail and want to know where the next intersection is, or want to know the name of that big mountain in front of you, or even how steep the rest of the hike is? Pull out your map.

There are many maps to choose from. Almost all state, regional and local parks have maps either at a the visitor center or via a website. But these maps are inconsistent from park to park. Some show only the barest of details — they may or may not have distances shown on them — and often do not include much of the surrounding area. These maps work for the park they're made for, but not much else.

If you're looking to hike outside of a park, such as in a national forest or a national park, you'll want a more detailed map, and there are plenty of choices. For easy-to-read maps that cover the Pikes Peak Region with turn by turn directions, the locally produced Pocket Pals maps are hard to beat. I personally carry most of these maps in my car.

The venerable and iconic Pikes Peak Atlas is a map almost everyone has. It's still available in stores, though, it hasn't been updated in a number of years, which means it's not quite as accurate as it was in the past. Trails have been closed, re-routed, or have become overgrown from lack of use, but they're still on the map. Still, The Pikes Peak Atlas is more right than it is wrong. I still carry mine.

Trails Illustrated maps, made by the National Geographic Society, seemingly cover every square mile of Colorado's public lands. The 250 assorted maps cover most of the rest of the U.S., almost all national parks and monuments, and other countries, too. As for their ease of use, they fall between the Pocket Pals maps and the Pikes Peak Atlas. They are also updated regularly, ensuring that they'll stay somewhat accurate. I have lots of these maps, and find them to be quite useful. 

But if you want to get really deep into maps, look for official U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) maps, the most detailed and presumably accurate topographical maps around. They're not the easiest to get your hands on, but now two websites offer the ability to view, customize and print USGS maps from your home computer. The customization options are many, so you'll want to spend time on the websites www.natgeomaps.com and caltopo.com to get a feel for how they work.

The USGS doesn't update maps very often, so be aware that they may not always have the most up-to-date information. Reading a detailed topographical map isn't very easy, and can be confusing. Take the time to develop your map reading skills, especially when using the USGS maps.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Saturday, August 20, 2016

The Incline is closed (again), and so are some others...

Posted By on Sat, Aug 20, 2016 at 11:22 AM

The Pikes Peak Ascent and Marathon are this weekend, restricting access to Barr Trail and the Manitou Incline. Soon after, the Incline will close for several months for more repairs and trail improvements. For avid users of the Incline this is no doubt a cause for distress, for casual users, not so much. And for the residents of Ruxton Ave, a little respite from traffic woes.

During past Incline closures, I've made suggestions for other trails that can serve as substitutes, but nothing really can serve as a real substitute.  You can read my previous suggestions here:
A Prescription for Incline withdrawal 
Incline alternatives, and a few kid-friendly trail suggestions
Don't want to pay parking fees at the Incline? Here are your alternatives

But that's not the only local trail closure coming. The U.S. Forest Service is doing work in the Bear Creek watershed area, which will result in both permanent and temporary trail closures.  Trail 720 and Trail 668 (Foresters Cut-off and Pipeline Trails) are closed or subject to closure from mid-to-late August while new trail construction in the Bear Creek area is being conducted.  Also the very popular Trail 667/7 Bridges Trail is scheduled to be closed from September 5th through September 16 due to trail work being done above the trail.    

Finally, the National Park Service 100th Birthday celebration starts next week, with entry fees to all National Parks, Monuments and other National Park Service sites waived from the 25th to the 28th.  I wrote about Colorado's National Park Service properties a few months ago. There 's no better time to visit some of our great National Park Service sites than during the centennial celebration.

I'll be taking advantage of the free days with a special project. You'll want to keep an eye here and on the Independent's social media accounts starting next Thursday. More to come.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Hiking the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area

Posted By on Sat, Aug 13, 2016 at 10:19 AM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
When viewed on a map, the Beaver Creek State Wildlife Area (SWA) looks, for the most part, as though it were haphazardly drawn. It extends north and south for miles but much of it is nothing more than a line, following Beaver Creek, with the exception of a wider area at the south and the Skagway Reservoir at the north end.

As the Beaver Creek SWA winds it's way up to the reservoir, it bisects the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area (WSA), which belongs to the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.  A "Wilderness Study Area" is an area that the BLM manages and protects as if it were an actual wilderness area, pending it's designation as a Wilderness Area, or before being released of it's status and becoming a non-protected area. There's not much in the wilderness, which is in line with it's purpose; to be a quiet, roadless area.

There are few trails in the Beaver Creek WSA, and it's remote location and lack of notoriety keep what trails are there off the radar for most hikers. These trails can be difficult to navigate and physically strenuous, but the solitude and spectacular views are your payoff — just be prepared to work hard and get wet. This hike uses the Beaver Creek Trail, Powerline Trail and Trail Gulch Trail, for a hike of about 7 miles and a bit more than 1,300-feet of elevation gain.

To get there from Colorado Springs: Take Hwy 115 south to the town of Penrose.  Turn west on Fremont County road 123 (watch for the sign on Hwy 115 for :"Brush Hollow SWA").  Take CR 123 a few miles to County Road 123, also known as Upper Beaver Creek Road, just before the intersection with Phantom Canyon Road.  Take CR 123north for approximately 11 miles to the dead-end and parking lot and trailhead. The road appears to be passable by almost any vehicle when dry.

Happy Trails!

Slideshow
Hiking the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area
Hiking the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area Hiking the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area Hiking the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area Hiking the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area Hiking the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area Hiking the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area Hiking the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area Hiking the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area

Hiking the Beaver Creek Wilderness Study Area


By Bob Falcone

Click to View 14 slides




Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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Saturday, July 30, 2016

Lots of outdoor happenings in August

Posted By on Sat, Jul 30, 2016 at 9:11 AM

Nymph Lake at sunrise, Rocky Mountain National Park - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Nymph Lake at sunrise, Rocky Mountain National Park

August is a couple days away, and kids are starting school soon (whatever happened to school starting after Labor Day?). But summer outdoor events are far from over.

August 1st is Colorado Day, the anniversary of Colorado becoming a state. Entry fees to all Colorado State Parks are waived for the day. Take advantage of it to visit that state park you've wanted to visit, but haven't gotten to yet. 

If you're active duty military or a military veteran, entry fees to all Colorado State Parks is waived for the entire month of August. You'll need to bring documentation to a State Park or Wildlife office to get a special pass, and CPW recommends doing it before your visit.  

As I wrote earlier this year, 2016 is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Entry fees to all National Parks, Monuments and other sites operated by the NPS are waived on the NPS birthday weekend from August 25th thru the 28th. This is a great opportunity to visit one of Colorado's many National Parks and Monuments.

Dome Rock State Wildlife Area, bordering the south side of Mueller State Park, has great trails, many with great views. Much of it is closed for over seven months of the year to protect big horn sheep that breed there, but the entire area was re-opened for use in mid-July. It's not only a great place for summer hikes, but the fall foliage there from mid-September to early October is some of the best in the area. Don't delay going there, however, much of it will close again December 1st.

To get there: Take state Highway 67 south from US 24 in Divide for approximately 4.5 miles and turn right onto County Road 61 (4 Mile Road). Continue down 4 Mile Road to the marked entrance to Dome Rock State Wildlife Area.

And finally, if you have been procrastinating doing the Manitou Incline, do it soon. It'll close August 22nd for repairs and improvements and will not reopen until December. 

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Saturday, July 23, 2016

Photo tour: Sharptail Ridge

Posted By on Sat, Jul 23, 2016 at 11:14 AM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
Located adjacent to Roxborough State Park north-west of Castle Rock, the Sharptail Ridge Trail is a delightful hike among tall, wild grasses over gently rolling hills. Part of the Douglas County Open Space system, the trail cuts through the far southeast corner of Roxborough State Park, and intersects with other trails. This blog describes the hike going from the trailhead, at the north end of the trail to Douglas County Road 5, and back, for a round trip hike of about 8 miles. This is a kid- and family-friendly trail.

Note: The trail is closed periodically in the fall by Colorado Parks and Wildlife, so I suggest you call Douglas County Open Space at 303-660-7495 before venturing out in the fall months, Also, no pets of any kind are allowed on the trail.

To get there: Take I-25 north to the Founders Parkway exit in Castle Rock and turn west (left). At Santa Fe Drive (Hwy 85), turn north (right). Exit at Titan Road and turn left. After approximately 2.miles, turn left onto Roxborough Park Road and take the gravel road south for approximately 3.7 miles to the trailhead/parking lot.

Slideshow
Sharptail Ridge
Sharptail Ridge Sharptail Ridge Sharptail Ridge Sharptail Ridge Sharptail Ridge Sharptail Ridge Sharptail Ridge Sharptail Ridge

Sharptail Ridge



By Bob Falcone

Click to View 13 slides



Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Saturday, July 16, 2016

Photo tour: Hike Cheesman Canyon

Posted By on Sat, Jul 16, 2016 at 9:44 AM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
Winding its way on along the Jefferson County side of the South Platte River, the Gill Trail through Cheesman Canyon is a pleasant hike with great views, good fishing and plenty of solitude.

To get there from Colorado Springs: Take US 24 to Hwy 67 in Woodland Park, Turn right (north) and take Hwy 67 for 23 miles to Deckers. At Deckers, keep left onto County Road 126 and take it approximately 4 miles to the Cheesman Canyon Trailhead, on the left side of the road. The trail starts at the east end of the parking lot, near the bathroom.

This hike can also be done as a two car shuttle. Turn left off of County Road 126 onto Forest Service Road 211 (it will be the road just prior to the trailhead on 126) and take it to the Upper Canyon parking lot at the reservoir. Return to County Road 126, and turn left a short distance to the Lower Canyon lot.

Slideshow
Hike Cheesman Canyon
Hike Cheesman Canyon Hike Cheesman Canyon Hike Cheesman Canyon Hike Cheesman Canyon Hike Cheesman Canyon Hike Cheesman Canyon Hike Cheesman Canyon Hike Cheesman Canyon

Hike Cheesman Canyon



By Bob Falcone

Click to View 16 slides



Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.


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Saturday, July 9, 2016

This is the weekend for wildflower hikes!

Posted By on Sat, Jul 9, 2016 at 8:00 AM

Columbines - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Columbines
As you've no doubt noticed, wildflowers are popping up all over the Pikes Peak region. I've been watching the wildflower conditions and I think this is the perfect weekend to take a wildflower hike.  Many varieties of flowers are in bloom, and some, such as sunflowers, are just starting to show up.

These are my choices for easy, kid- and family-friendly hikes to make the most of the wildflowers you'll see on the trails this week.

Obviously, this isn't an exhaustive, all-encompassing list, so don't be upset if I miss your favorite place — wildflowers are ubiquitous in Colorado, the higher elevations are just starting to bloom. The following hikes are all kid- and family-friendly — check each site for dog rules — and I have done all of them within the past week to be able to offer the most up-to-date information.

Palmer Park: Any trail inside the park will give good results, but the Yucca and Mesa Trails on the Mesa, at the northwest corner of the park, has prickly-pear cactus, spiderwort, salsify, Paintbrush, Morning glory and more.

Morning Glories - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Morning Glories
Mariposa Lily - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Mariposa Lily























Red Rocks Canyon Open Space:
Like Palmer Park, almost any trail is good here, but my favorite for wildflowers is the Sand Canyon Trail, especially towards the far south end. Prickly-pear cactus, Paintbrush, Mariposa Lily, Morning Glory and Golden Pea are all in bloom.

Cheyenne Mountain State Park: On a recent hike on the Talon, South Talon and North Talon trails (about 7.5 miles if you do all three), I observed Prickly-Pear cactus, Mariposa Lily, Spiderwort, Mountain Harebell, King's Crown, Chiming bells, wild Roses, wild geraniums, Paintbrush, asters, thistle, Morning Glory and more. Also one of the most scenic trail routes in the area and not nearly as crowded at most city parks. Entrance fees do apply. 

Prickly Pear Cactus - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Prickly Pear Cactus

Aiken Canyon Preserve: The 3.5-mile loop trail has a little bit of everything. Prickly-pear cactus, Mariposa Lily, Morning Glory, Paintbrush and fields of various white and yellow wildflowers. Open Saturday, Sunday and Monday only.  

Wild Rose - BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
  • Wild Rose

Rainbow Gulch/Rampart Reservoir: Often overlooked, but also often one of the best places to see a wide variety of wildflowers, Rainbow Gulch is my top choice for wildflower viewing this weekend. On a hike there a few days ago, I saw Irises, wild geraniums, wild roses, Columbines, Salsify, sunflowers of various varieties, paintbrush, shooting stars, cinquefoils, harebells, Mariposa Lily and many other flowers. 

Happy trails and flower viewing!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Saturday, July 2, 2016

Enjoy a safe, clean and enjoyable camping trip

Posted By on Sat, Jul 2, 2016 at 8:56 AM

SHUTTERSTOCK
  • Shutterstock

Camping, hiking and backpacking are great American activities, and many will likely be doing one or maybe all of these this July 4th weekend.

As reported in this week's Independent, a number of factors are contributing to heavy use of our national forests and other public lands. In general, and regardless of the reasons, our public lands and outdoor recreation are enjoying a great amount of popularity these days. While I have no doubt that the vast majority of users respect the environment and the people who work hard to keep our forests and open spaces clean and sustainable, there are still problems. Some are due to plain old maliciousness, some due to apathy, and some due to a lack of knowledge.

Whether you've been camping before or not, now seems to be a good time to go over some tips on responsible camping. If you’re new to camping and not sure what the “do’s and don’ts” are, don’t feel bad. We’ve all been there.

Simply speaking, being a responsible user of our lands means to treat them as you treat your own home. Actually, take it a step further and treat the outdoors better than your home. Remember, you’re a guest, not the owner of the land.

I could go on, but instead I’ll leave you with a couple of really good links:
Here is what the U. S. Forest Service has to say about responsible recreation. And from Tread Lightly, of which I am a Charter Member, here are the "Top 10 Ways to Minimize Impact When Camping in the Outdoors". Finally, I'd suggest checking out the good people at Leave No Trace, the Center for Outdoor Ethics before you reach your campsite.

Go out and visit our public lands this weekend. Enjoy the holiday, and the outdoors, but most of all, be safe and responsible.

Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Thursday, June 30, 2016

5 surprising facts about homeless camps

Posted By on Thu, Jun 30, 2016 at 8:14 AM

Not exactly a fun weekend in the woods: The Forest Service is finding homeless camps all over national forest lands. - COURTESY USFS
  • Courtesy USFS
  • Not exactly a fun weekend in the woods: The Forest Service is finding homeless camps all over national forest lands.

In this week’s cover story,
I wrote about the problems that homeless camps will cause this summer, as they mushroom throughout our urban park and trail systems and into our national forests. Since there’s a shortage of shelter beds, police can’t usually boot campers, as they have nowhere else to go. But having people living on the streets is anything but ideal — certainly not for the people who live in these make-shift camps, but not for those of us who are more fortunate either.

Here are some surprising facts you may not know about our local homeless population:

1) They are increasingly young.
Officer Brett Iverson, of the Colorado Springs Homeless Outreach Team (HOT Team) says that perhaps 40 percent of the people they encounter on the streets now are under 35. They also say that many of them are coming to the state for legal weed, though at least one service provider says she thinks a bigger driver is jobs.
Either way, many of the young people aren’t interested in the help service providers have to offer, and may even see homelessness as a lifestyle choice. Unfortunately, it’s likely not a safe one. The homeless can often end up as victims of crime or get sucked into unhealthy choices, like heavy drug use.

2) They leave behind tons (and tons, and tons) of trash in our wild spaces.
Between May 1, 2015 and May 30 of this year, Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful, a nonprofit that contracts with the city, collected about 22,000 tons of trash, or 164 30-cubic-yard construction dumpsters of junk from homeless camps. All of that was collected in 305 clean-ups, by 2,043 volunteers doing 12,801 hours of work. Most came from a single trail — Pikes Peak Greenway.

feature1-03-8a07cdccf963995d.jpg

3) Camps put the city at risk for another Waldo Canyon or Black Forest fire.

Everyone from Manitou Springs Mayor Nicole Nicoletta to District Ranger Oscar Martinez (who work for the U.S. Forest Service’s Pikes Peak Ranger District) cites this as a concern. The fact of the matter is, most people don’t properly put out their campfires, and homeless camps tend to have fires. On a recent tour of a popular urban homeless camping spot, this reporter personally witnessed several scorched trees near old fire pits.  Since more and more people are camping in the dry forests surrounding the city, the risk for a major fire will be high this summer.

4) There are lots of drug needles in the camps.
Dee Cunningham, executive director of Keep Colorado Springs Beautiful, estimates that the number of syringes she finds in clean-ups “has increased probably 20 times from five years ago.” She says she finds needles everywhere — on the side of trails, woven into tents. Martinez, meanwhile, says one of his staffers recently ended up with a drug needle stuck in his boot.
On a tour of homeless camps in Colorado Springs, this reporter noticed many bright orange needle caps.

5) The people who most need help are often the least likely to get it.
The HOT Team’s Iverson says there’s still a high population of people with mental illness on the streets. There are very few programs to help these people, and often those who are seriously ill will refuse help because their illness prevents them from understanding they have a problem. It’s a vexing predicament, and one that Iverson says troubles him.
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Saturday, June 25, 2016

Photo tour: Chautauqua Mountain Loop

Posted By on Sat, Jun 25, 2016 at 9:29 AM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
Located between the Palmer Lake town reservoirs and Raspberry Mountain, Chautauqua Mountain is largely unknown, except to local residents. Any maps that do show a trail there only show the steepest route on the peak's north side, ignoring a nice scenic trail the runs the full length of the over 1-mile-long mountain top. The views are great, and although some parts of this loop hike may be arduous, most of the hike is moderate and very pleasant.

To get there from Colorado Springs: Take I-25 to Exit 161 (Highway 105), Turn left on Hwy 105, cross back over I-25 then right at the traffic light. Continue on Hwy 105, turning left on to S. Valley Road. Bear right on to S. Valley Road immediately after turning off of Hwy 105. Turn left onto the one-way Old Carriage Road and look for the trailhead and parking at the hairpin turn at the bottom of the hill.

Slideshow
Chautauqua Mountain Loop
Chautauqua Mountain Loop Chautauqua Mountain Loop Chautauqua Mountain Loop Chautauqua Mountain Loop Chautauqua Mountain Loop Chautauqua Mountain Loop Chautauqua Mountain Loop Chautauqua Mountain Loop

Chautauqua Mountain Loop


By Bob Falcone

Click to View 18 slides



Happy Trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.
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Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Bike to Work Day is tomorrow

Posted By on Tue, Jun 21, 2016 at 11:12 AM

CITY OF COLORADO SPRINGS
  • City of Colorado Springs
Tomorrow is Bike To Work Day, which means that if you ditch your car for two wheels, you can hang out with a lot of other cyclists and get a free bagel. 

The City of Colorado Springs is celebrating the day by hosting free breakfast and inviting the public to take a ride through America the Beautiful Park with Mayor John Suthers. You can register here.

Very few Springs residents ride their bikes to work on a regular basis, but most of the people I've talked to on past Bike To Work Days have said that they were surprised how easy and fun it was to commute by bike. Personally, I've observed the holiday off and on for many years, and am delighted by how much it brightens my day.

Want to give it a try? Here are the details from the city:

Join us for a bagel and fruit breakfast at a Bike to Work Day celebration location near you! The downtown celebration will be at America the Beautiful park with Mayor Suthers. We will also be at the University Village Colorado shopping center on Nevada and 10 YMCA locations throughout the city!

Join the fun with Mayor Suthers as he leads a community ride to America the Beautiful Park! Ride departs Goose Gossage Park at 6 a.m. More than 100 riders joined in the fun last year, and we’re looking to make it even bigger this year.

Mountain Metro Rides organizes Bike to Work Day activities each June to encourage bicycling for personal and community health, alternative transportation, recreation and sustainability. Help us celebrate by riding your bike to one of our many breakfast locations around the city. Invite your friends, family and coworkers to join the fun!

Worried about traffic? Here are a few "Share the Road Tips," courtesy of the Colorado Department of Transportation

For Drivers
· Give cyclists at least three feet of space when passing: Even if it requires crossing the center line, if it is safe – or risk a ticket.
· Wait a few seconds: If you don’t have three feet to pass then wait until there is enough room to pass safely.
· Take a brake: Reduce speed when encountering bicyclists.
· Scan, then turn: Look for bicyclists before making turns and make sure the road is clear before proceeding.

For Riders
· Cyclists must ride as far right as possible: And not impede traffic when passing other riders or riding two abreast.
· Side-by-Side Rule: Ride no more than two abreast; move to single-file if riding two abreast impedes the flow of motorized traffic.
· Ride Predictably: Scan the road, anticipate hazards, and communicate your moves to others.
· Signal First: Use hand signals to alert nearby vehicles to turns or lane changes.

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Saturday, June 18, 2016

Summer is here. Stretch your horizons

Posted By on Sat, Jun 18, 2016 at 9:25 AM

pikespeakfrombarrtrailfbwm_3028.jpg
It's June.  The kids are out of school, the weather has finally decided to act appropriately for the season — summer officially starts on Monday —  the wildflowers are starting to bloom, vacations are being planned and everyone wants to get out and enjoy the outdoors.  It's natural, and it's perfect.

With the weather so far acting fairly normal for the Pikes Peak region, with no record rain, at least, this summer would be a perfect time for you to stretch your horizons and try someplace new to hike or camp. Instead of defaulting to the same trails in the same parks that you normally do, find a new place to visit.  Check out a state park you've never been to, visit a trail in our many national forests that you've kept on the back-burner, and don't forget that this is year is the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service.  What better time to visit and hike in one of Colorado's many National Parks properties.  

Maybe you've never gone backpacking or camping — now is the perfect time to give it a try. Visit one of the many great local outdoors recreation suppliers for advice on what to buy and where to go. 

If you've never done a 14'er, give it a try this summer.

Want to go somewhere new to look at wildflowers? Find some of my favorite places here.

The key here is to try something new. Stretch your horizons. Push your personal envelope. Make this the summer you don't settle for the outdoor status quo.

Note some closures in the area: North Cheyenne Cañon Park will be closed from 6 a.m. Monday, June 20th until 8 p.m. Saturday, June 25th for paving and Tussock Moth spraying. Columbine, Mt Cutler, Mt Muscoco and Spring Creek Trails will be closed. Helen Hunt Falls and Silver Cascade Falls will also be closed.

Gold Camp Road will be open, with access to Captain Jacks, Mt Buckhorn, Seven Bridges and St Mary's Falls trails.

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor, business owner and author of Hiking Bob's Tips, Tricks and Trails, available via his website. He has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. Follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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Saturday, June 11, 2016

Hiking Signal Butte

Posted By on Sat, Jun 11, 2016 at 9:08 AM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
At barely a mile round-trip, Signal Butte is likely to be the shortest hike I'll write about in this blog. It's far shorter than any trail or hike that would normally attract my attention, but this little hike has a number of things going for it: relative obscurity, easy accessibility, moderate difficultly and great views. (By now you know how much I value great views.) 

Signal Butte and the surrounding area were consumed by 2002's Hayman Fire. 14 years later, there are signs that the environment is just now starting to recover.

It takes a bit of driving to get to Signal Butte, so you may to consider doing it when you're on your way to or from another hike. In any case, give it a try.

To get there: From the traffic light at US 24 and Hwy 67 in Divide, turn north on County Road 51. Stay on County Road 51 for 11.0 miles. Turn right (north) onto Forest Service Road 363. It's easy to miss, so pay attention to your odometer. It just has a small forest service marker. Drive just over a half-mile until it intersects with Forest Service Road 362 (also called Signal Butte Road), which will be on your left. Follow FS 362 for 3.3 miles until you reach FS 362A — you'll know when you see it, since Signal Butte is right there. Turn onto 362A and park at the lot about 1,000' down the road. The trailhead for Signal Butte is the only obvious gap in the fence.

Slideshow
Hike Signal Butte
Hike Signal Butte Hike Signal Butte Hike Signal Butte Hike Signal Butte Hike Signal Butte Hike Signal Butte Hike Signal Butte Hike Signal Butte

Hike Signal Butte

By Bob Falcone

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Wildflower season is starting in the Pikes Peak region.  I wrote about my favorite places for wildflower photos last spring.

Happy trails!

Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 24 years. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), Instagram (@HikingBob_CO) or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: info@hikingbob.com.

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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Santa Fe Trail through USAFA reopens

Posted By on Tue, Jun 7, 2016 at 4:11 PM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
The Air Force Academy reopened the portion of the Santa Fe Trail through the academy on Monday.

The trail was closed through the base due to unspecified "security concerns."

The academy's news release:
 Officials at the Air Force Academy reopened the six-mile stretch of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail running through the base to non-Defense Department ID card-holders June 6.
Col. Troy Dunn, commander of the 10th Air Base Wing, said senior officials understand the importance of the trail to the local communities, but must balance openness with safety and security.
"Only through an outstanding partnership with the County were we able to get here," Dunn said. "The support of El Paso County, the City of Colorado Springs and the surrounding communities is vital to the success of our mission. Together, we can ensure the Academy continues to accomplish its mission while minimizing the impact to our community."
Academy officials closed the trail in May 2015.
"We closed the trail to non-DOD ID card-holders due to security concerns, and it remained closed while El Paso County completed ground maintenance on the trail for public safety and could guarantee the trail was safe for pedestrian and cyclist traffic," Dunn said.
El Paso County is responsible for trail maintenance under an agreement with the Academy. The County completed trail maintenance and plans to make major repairs once it receives confirmation of Federal Emergency Management Agency funding, which County Commissioner Darryl Glenn said is expected soon.
"We continue to be thankful that the Air Force Academy allows this critical section of the New Santa Fe Regional Trail to pass through the Academy," Glenn said. "We also have appreciated the patience of trail users as we addressed both safety and security concerns."
Along with the trail maintenance, the County will lead efforts to organize a trail watch group to report suspicious activity or problems on the trail. Interested citizens are encouraged to visit elpasocountyparks.com for more information.
"The citizens who enjoy the trail on a regular basis and who have offered to be additional, consistent, watchful eyes on the trail show this community's commitment to our military partners in fulfilling their mission," said County Commissioner Peggy Littleton.

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Santa Fe Trail reopens through the Air Force Academy

Posted By on Tue, Jun 7, 2016 at 11:52 AM

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone
Over a year after being shut down by military officials due to security concerns, the New Santa Fe Regional Trail section that traverses through the US Air Force Academy was re-opened to the public today.

A popular trail that connects Palmer Lake and Colorado Springs, the closing has been a point of contention between the outdoors community — especially cyclists — and the AFA. The El Paso County Parks Department worked with Air Force  officials to re-open the trail.

In an emailed announcement from El Paso County Parks Department head Tim Wolken, the opening comes attached to an agreement between the county Parks Department and the USAFA that a New Santa Fe Regional Trail Watch Group would be established by the county. The watch group will be additional eyes and ears for AFA security forces, addressing some of the security concerns that had kept the trail closed.

BOB FALCONE
  • Bob Falcone

Wolken included the watch group's "guidelines":
1. Do not confront a suspicious person.
2. Report any suspicious activity to the Air Force Academy Security Office – 719-333-2000.
3. When contacting the Air Force Academy Security Office, please be prepared to report the description, current location, and direction of travel of the suspicious person.
4. In case of emergency, call 911.

People interested in participating in the watch group can contact Wolken at timwolken@elpasoco.com.

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