|Elevation Gain||1148 ft|
|My Time||3 hr 36 min|
|Closest Town||Castle Rock|
|Food Nearby||Castle Cafe|
Ridgeline Open Space
I didn’t mean to hike the loop at Ridgeline Open Space today but it turned into a bit of a happy surprise. The trail is a great workout with a series of hills to walk up and down and some fantastic views from the tops.
To begin with the loop is about 10 miles long but there are plenty of smaller loops and off shoot trails that can make it less daunting. The trail itself is like a real life version of the interval setting on a treadmill. It is a steady mix of climbing up a hill, walking on the hill top (great views), and climbing down to get to the next hill. Here is what my Alltrails app recorded for my elevation gains for the hike.
That might as well have been my heart meter as well! I think I broke it down to about seven real hills that you will have to manage so make sure you are prepared for a good workout! The trail also varies greatly in between these hills. The tops are brutally exposed but some of the valleys have good shade and tree cover. If you hike in the winter this can lead to radically different conditions depending on where you are.
Outside of a good workout there has to be another draw to a hike this long right? Well you are correct! When you get on top of the hills you have some amazing views of the entire front range unfolding in front of you.
If you follow the trail from east to west as I did, the mountains and views get closer and closer as you hike. That was an important motivator for me because this is a long, and at times, tedious hike. It was nice to know that every time I dropped down a valley I would have a better view the next peak I made.
There were even a couple pair of deer hanging out along the hike today. There are signs to be on the look out for rattlesnakes on the trail so keep an eye for them as well. Can you find both deer in this picture?
Elevation and Distance
If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 10.19 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1,148 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 6,617 feet. I was also moving for a total of 3 hours and 36 minutes.
This hike was a lot more challenging than I expected. There are a lot of up and down hills which gets the blood moving like the interval setting on a treadmill. It is also a long hike to do the entire loop at over 10 miles. Here is the step count from my Fitbit.
The terrain varied depending on if you were on the sunny or shady side of a hill. Overall the trail is relatively narrow for such a big park. I found a lot of the trail to be rutted from bike tires which made it a bit of an ankle breaker. A few embedded rocks were also present in certain areas. On this January day half of the trail was covered in snow while the sunny side was just plain dirt. I would suggest a good pair of hiking shoes.
While there are several places for the surrounding neighbors to get on and off the trail there is a main parking area. The parking area is located on Coachline Road about halfway between Wolfensberger and Foothills Dr. The parking lot has room for about 15-20 cars and there is a single port-o-potty there.
So this hike was a really good workout but it sure did kick my butt. I was ready for it to be done at about the seven mile mark but it just kept going. A lot of the hike is around a neighborhood so it isn’t the best if you are looking to be alone with nature.
That being said I did enjoy the hike. I really enjoyed knowing that every time I had to climb up another hill I would have a closer and better view of the mountains. There are long stretches on mostly flat ground on the tops of mesa’s that also help to catch your breath. If I lived closer I would probably use this space as a training area to get into shape. Since I don’t live that close I’m not sure that I will try it again!
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