Hiking Colorado: Bear Creek Trail & Peaceful Valley

The trail offers several distractions for a young child, or a weary office worker. You'll pass a horse farm west of Estes Street. An intricate garden, nicknamed "A Senseless Act of Beauty," west of the Kipling Parkway. All along the way, the Bear Creek will accompany you and the plentiful trees will provide welcome shade.

The trail seems to end at the clubhouse of the Fox Hollow golf course, almost three miles from the start of your walk. Pick up the service road to the west of the course, however, and you'll soon be back on trail, walking up the south face of the Bear Creek Dam. The trail takes you an additional mile or so, up to the summit (such as it is) of Mt. Carbon, a hill flanking the reservoir, which offers a suburb city skyline view to the east. You'll see Green Mountain to the north and the hogback immediately to the south and west.

From here, you can continue to the west, through Bear Creek Lake Park toward C-470 and the Soda Lakes. Or call it a day and head back to your waiting car at Sister City Park.

Peaceful Valley

If you`re looking for a relatively peaceful cross country ski jaunt, consider Peaceful Valley. It`s a short drive from Boulder and several trails - Middle St. Vrain Road, North Sourdough and Buchanan Pass - take off from the road just off the Peak to Peak Highway near Peaceful Valley campground.

Although the trailhead may be crowded, once you get started, other skiers, snowshoers and hikers seem relatively spread out.

The Buchanan Pass trail is a good option for relatively easy skiing. It takes off to the left of the road into the campground. The summer hiking trail is well marked by tagged trees and features gentle hills. A few of the turns are narrow, but they`re good practice for those getting started at backcountry skiing.

Through heavy forest, the trail offers access to the North Sourdough, a steeper alternative that can take a skier to Brainard Lake and even further south. After a short while, Buchanan Pass meets and crosses Middle St. Vrain Road. The road may be populated with snowmobiles, but also is a skiing alternative, considerably wider than the trail and often "groomed" by the snowmobilers.

Buchanan Trail continues up into the Indian Peaks a total of 6.3 miles, with a couple of opportunities to turn and ski back down the road. The trail sticks to the forest along a consistent, gentle uphill slope.

On any given weekend day, you may come across a group of Boy Scouts hiking out from a camping trip or there may be plenty of other people out for a ski or snowshoe, but typically the trail is serene. It is a great place to go out and get some oxygen back into your smog filled respiratory system and some truly amazing beauty into your glazed eyes. Once you get out here you will realize just why you really are on this planet, and it's not just to make your car payments and tweet to people you don't know and don't care about.

Continued In Hiking Colorado: Mount Audubon & Rampart Reservoir

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