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 August 1, 1999

Walking tours healthy way to enjoy outdoors

BOULDER — One of the most ecologically friendly ways to enjoy and yet respect Boulder County’s undeveloped land is to meander along with a volunteer naturalist on the myriad trails. Each offers glimpses into the natural world so easily missed on a jog or bike ride.

August is the last chance to participate, at the end of the day, in one of the Parks and Open Space Department’s guided interpretative Sunset Walks.

“One of the big draws for the hikes is that you never know for sure what you’re going to see,” says Larry Colbenson, who directs the interpretive walks for Parks and Open Space. “There may be wildlife, or scat, or footprints or unexpected habitats. Wildflowers change with the season; you’ll see different plants in June than you will in August. There’s dominant vegetation in an area, of course, but what’s in bloom on a particular day depends on a lot of factors. It’s progressional.

“One of the things that makes the walks fun for the naturalists, too, who guide the walks, is not knowing in advance exactly what they’ll be called upon to describe.”

Hall Ranch near Lyons starts August’s walks on Wednesday, Aug. 4. With 12 miles of scenic terrain to explore, the Ranch’s 3,000-plus acres drew close to 66,000 visitors in 1998. A volunteer guide will provide information on the Ranch’s continuing agricultural activities as well as the wildlife that call the area home.

On Thursday, Aug. 12, Bald Mountain Scenic Area is the sunset site. Five miles west of Boulder on Sunshine Canyon Road (what Mapleton Avenue turns into heading west), Bald Mountain offers, in addition to wildlife observation, one of late-summer’s best opportunities to enjoy a profusion of wildflowers. If you have a guidebook, be sure to bring it.

For a hot mid-summer evening, the Betasso Preserve Sunset Hike offers a slow-paced way to cool down. Interpretative Specialist Megan Davis says, “August is not a prime time for most hikes because it’s so hot, but the trees of this ponderosa pine ecosystem offer welcome relief from the heat.” The Monday, Aug. 16 walk also provides a singularly good time to see Abert squirrels which live exclusively in this environment.

Walker Ranch, Boulder County’s largest open space area, has two August events for hikers. On Saturday, Aug. 14 it will host a “Celebration From 100 Years Ago.” Along with showing the labor required to work a ranch a century ago, relaxation activities and celebration events of the 1880s will be featured. This glimpse into the past affords an opportunity to become familiar with Walker Ranch as it is today: a wealth of wildlife habitats, open meadows, Boulder Creek, and the same, if perhaps more lush, forests in which hikers of the 19th century made their way.

On Tuesday, Aug. 24, Walker Ranch will host the last Sunset Walk of the season. The group will meet at the South Boulder Creek Trailhead for a last-chance-this-summer opportunity to hear from a Boulder Parks and Open Space volunteer about the creatures and critters that live in, on, or above the Ranch’s 4,000 acres.

All BCPOS walks begin at 6:30 p.m., are free and are suitable for all ages; pets aren’t allowed. Call (303) 441-3950 for information and directions.

Sierra Club

Sue Jones, coordinator of Outings for Boulder’s Sierra Club chapter, calls the Club’s walks “more hedonistic than interpretative.” Among their August offerings, which vary — unlike the County’s — from moderate to strenuous, are:

* A nine-mile hike to Jasper Lake from the Hessie Trailhead in Indian Peaks Wilderness on Tuesday, Aug. 3;

* An Aug. 8 on-trail-and-off hike in the proposed James Peak Wilderness;

* A strenuous (2,100-foot gain) Rocky Mountain National Park outing on Aug. 14;

* Car-camping and day-hiking in the Troublesome Roadless Area between Granby and Kremmling, the weekend of Aug. 27-29.

Call Jones at (303) 444-6821 for information on needed hiking experience and equipment, along with telephone numbers for hike leaders who will provide car-pooling information. Sierra Club hikes are open to the public; the only costs are gas-sharing expenses.

Boulder Mountain Parks

Boulder Mountain Parks sponsors a Saturday series of ecology hikes throughout the summer. This year’s programs focus on issues and strategies for park management; remaining hikes are:

* How to Describe a Forest on Aug. 7 at Royal Arch;

* One Trail, Two Trail, Three Trail, More? on Aug. 14 at Mallory Cave;

* Where East Meets West on Aug. 21 at Green Mountain;

* Barely any Aspens? on Aug. 28 at Bear Peak;

* Riparian Ribbons of Life on Sept. 4 at South Boulder Peak.

All hikes start at 9 a.m. at the Chautauqua Ranger Cottage. Suitable footwear, water, and snacks are encouraged. Call (303) 441-3408 for information.

Also offered by Mountain Parks are Wednesday night fireside programs at the Sunrise Amphitheater on Flagstaff, which abounds with hiking opportunities. August’s programs include:

* Owls – Whooo Are They, 8:30 p.m., Aug. 4;

* A Mountain Parks Nature Almanac, 8:30 p.m., Aug. 11;

* Trickster Tales, 7 p.m., Aug. 18;

* Little People in the Park (kids’ program), 7 p.m., Aug. 25

The Boulder Mountain Parks education e-mail address is: eeprograms@ci.boulder.co.us; or call (303) 413-7261.

BOULDER — One of the most ecologically friendly ways to enjoy and yet respect Boulder County’s undeveloped land is to meander along with a volunteer naturalist on the myriad trails. Each offers glimpses into the natural world so easily missed on a jog or bike ride.

August is the last chance to participate, at the end of the day, in one of the Parks and Open Space Department’s guided interpretative Sunset Walks.

“One of the big draws for the hikes is that you never know for sure what you’re going…

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