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Ute Valley Park boasts wilderness that makes you forget suburbia
Just like you, I have my favorite trails — familiar, satisfying, as comfortable as an old flannel shirt.
However, I’m determined to break out of my comfort zone and I’d welcome some company. On two consecutive Saturdays, I hiked parts of Ute Valley Park, which, I realize, is no big deal if you live near these 343 acres at the corner of Centennial Boulevard and Vindicator Drive.
For me, it was a reminder that I’d been away too long from this natural playground for mountain bikers, joggers and hikers.
If you’re going on a weekend day, get to the Vindicator Drive parking lot early. With nearby Blodgett Peak Open Space closed due to fire damage, Ute Valley Park has become even more popular. That means increased pressure on a park that is already well-worn.
Until now, there has been no organized “friends group” for Ute Valley but recently a group of avid users has come together to form one — already up to 120 members! Plenty of potential projects await them. The park could benefit from better signage and some serious trail work is overdue.
Winter is a great time to explore this local jewel, minimizing your chances of a rattlesnake encounter. In warmer months, just watch your step, stay on the trail and avoid tall grass areas.
Take a couple of hours to enjoy Ute Valley. Get your heart rate up by heading south-southwest from the parking lot and hike to the top of the ridge. Then meander east, down to narrow canyon areas where you can pick your way over slickrock and wind through thickets of scrub oak.
Although not as large as Red Rock Canyon or Palmer Park, there is a wildness to Ute Valley that makes you feel you’ve stepped out of suburbia.
Rock formations, grasslands, a variety of trails — this park has it all.
Davies is the executive director of the Trails and Open Space Coalition. Read her columns on the fourth Thursday of each month in Out There.