One of the fun things about writing about hiking and outdoor recreation is looking for new places to go. Sometimes (OK, often), it involves spreading maps out on the living room floor and looking for a dotted line I haven’t visited before, and sometimes it involves watching social media posts for references to obscure trails, and sometimes it’s a question from a friend that starts with “Have you ever done…?”.
This week’s featured trail was inspired through a combination of a friend asking me if I had hiked any of the trails around Cañon City (I've hiked some) and then poring over maps of the the area. It's not a rule, but I typically avoid writing about “popular” trails. I mean, does anyone really need me to tell them about how great hiking around the Garden of the Gods is? I’d rather tell you about the more obscure.
Lion Canyon Trail #1329 is located about 13 miles south of Cañon City, in the San Carlos Ranger District of the Pike and San Isabel National Forests, Cimarron and Comanche National Grasslands (an unwieldy name that can only be the product of the United States Government), the trail is a nice out-and-back hike of a little more than 5 miles round trip. The trail, which starts at the Forest Service’s Oak Creek camp ground, follows a tributary of Oak Creek on a gentle incline through the forest. In mid-June the trail was awash with wildflowers, and the dense (for Colorado) tree cover provided welcomed shade from the summer heat. The babbling brook, singing songbirds and no cell phone service made for an idyllic outing. The trail ends at a huge, beautiful meadow known as Locke Park. I do not know what lies beyond, but if you go, it may be worth exploring a bit farther before turning back.
To Get There: From US Highway 50 and Colorado Highway 115 in Cañon City, turn south onto 115 for about 1.25 miles. At the roundabout, bear right onto Elm Street and then turn left onto Oak Creek Grade Road/Fremont County Road 143. Stay on County Road 143 for about 11.5 miles and then bear left at the sign for the Oak Creek Campground. The trailhead is at the end of road at the turnaround. There are campsites near the trailhead, so respect the privacy of the campers there.
Things You Need to Know: The trail is open to bikes, horses, foot traffic and motorcycles. ATV's are not allowed. There are no restroom facilities, trash receptacles or potable water available at the campground or trailhead.
Speaking of campgrounds, hiking and all things outdoors, let's not forget to pick up after ourselves. Don't leave your garbage behind. If it wasn't there when you arrived, it sure shouldn't be there when you leave. And, that includes food items, such as banana peels or orange skins. While they may seem to be harmless, they do take a long time to decompose, and can be harmful to wildlife. Also, pick up your pooch's poop. Yes, even out in the boonies.
Be Good. Do Good Things. Leave No Trace.