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Trail talk: Praise for Red Rock Canyon
When The Gazette offered me a monthly trails column, it was like Christmas followed by a trip to the dentist’s office: a delicious gift coupled with a dose of pain. But that describes most of my memorable adventures.
Many of those adventures have involved trails. Around Colorado Springs, there are dozens of reasons to enjoy trails. Few pleasures contribute to physical and emotional health yet cost so little.
Others must share some of that euphoria, because the majority of those I meet on trails seem very content.
Recently, I treated myself to a leisurely two-hour hike in Red Rock Canyon. Remarkable, because it’s only 10 minutes from downtown along U.S. Highway 24. Close to 90 percent of those I met on the trail smiled and shared a greeting.
And why shouldn’t we smile? Nearly 800 magnificent acres of public space almost became a golf course and 40 townhouses. But thanks to the willingness of Colorado Springs voters to tax themselves one penny on every $10 spent, Red Rock Canyon and adjacent White Acres and Section 16 were purchased as open space and always will be a place where hikers, cyclists and equestrians can share almost 1,500 acres and smiles.
Another marvel: The canyon is relatively free of litter and graffiti, despite its proximity to two cities. And on the Saturday morning that I hiked, at least half the dogs on trails were on leashes.
A spirited Red Rock Canyon master-planning process is in its final stages. Residents representing all user groups engaged in hours of discussion as a new plan was created for Red Rock Canyon, White Acres and Section 16. The plan will determine which trails are improved and which trails are closed.
And while a few smiles will fade when the final document is approved, residents can find satisfaction in the fact that the plan is designed to balance the desires of users with the requirements of the resources, including flora and fauna that call the canyon home.
So the next time you decide to treat yourself to a delicious 1:45 — you probably hike faster than I do — meander down Contemplative Trail, with its majestic rock formations; hook up with the Roundup Trail and pause for the exquisite views; and complete the loop on the Red Rock Canyon Trail, where you are surrounded by the canyon. With the exception of a passing jet, you easily can imagine yourself miles from a traffic light.
Enjoy the wonderfully designed trails, try to stay off the social trails. And smile.
Susan Davies is the executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition. Find Davies’ hiking columns in Out There on the fourth Thursday of each month.