Monday, July 7, 2014

Cheyenne Mountain State Park 07.06.2014

We decided to take a day trip to Cheyenne Mountain State Park, and do a bit of hiking, and perhaps some wildflower shots. It's getting late in the year for the best wildflower photography, but there's always something ...

The visitor center for the park is off CO 115, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Highway. From I-25, take exit 135 west. This is also the southern Academy Boulevard exit.  From the exit ramp, turn left onto South Academy, and drive west past Pikes Peak Community College, past Magrath Avenue (which will take you into Fort Carson), past the Chiles Street exit, pass over CO 115 and then turn left onto the ramp for 115. Proceed north past O'Connell Boulevard, till you reach the lights for what most people see as the main entrance to Fort Carson, Nelson Boulevard, on the left. You want to take a right at that stoplight, onto JL Ranch Heights Road. The turn off is well-marked with the brown signage commonly used for the state parks. The visitor center is on the right, a hop and a skip up from the turnoff.

There's a $7.00 day use fee for CMSP. We paid that at the visitor center, then geared up for the hike. We decided to take the Soaring Kestrel trail, which was new to us. We started on Coyote Run. This one starts right behind the visitor's center. Further up the trail, we picked up Soaring Kestrel, then Bobcat Way, which runs back into Soaring Kestrel, then we made our way back down to the visitor's center. This gave us about 4.5 miles for this hike.

Most of this is through Gambel oak. The southern trails, such as Blackmer Loop, run through the conifer forested area. It was hot enough to suck the breath away; the rangers later told us it was 98, and it reached 102 for a short time. This is fairly unusual for this area. We went through four 24 ounce bottles of water each, refilling at the campground at the top of Bobcat Way, then guzzled those on the way back down. We also soaked our hats and t-shirts, which helped considerably. This hike, in God's own sauna, helped clear the cooped-up-in-the-air-conditioned-house fuzzywuzzies.

And we got some pretty good photos, which can be seen here:

This has long been one of our favorite parks, great for a fast getaway. Here are galleries from past visits:

Cheyenne Mountain State Park 07.04.2009

Cheyenne Mountain State Park 08.10.2013

Cheyenne Mountain State Park 09.01.2013

Leece took this shot of a Mariposa Lily

Butterfly Milkweed

Canadian thistle