#60HikesDenverChallenge – Meyer Ranch Open Space

(For 2017, I had a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver”  While I didn’t make it through all 60 that year, I have carried this goal into 2018.  All the specific trail details can be found in the book or online, but I’ll highlight some things about each trail in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail here. The numbers below are associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #23 – Meyer Ranch Open Space – Lodgepole Loop
Completed: 5/30/18 | Number Completed: 21/60
Mode: Trail Run
Location:  Conifer
Distance: 2 miles (I probably did ~3 with two laps around the loop)
Difficulty: Easy
Type of trail: Hard packed dirt, balloon configuration
Exposure: Lots of shade!
Facilities: Pit toilets and picnic tables. No water

My Experience:
With a free Wednesday (finally!) I decided to get another hike from my book done. With an easy 20 minute drive from my house, I reached the Meyer Ranch Open Space. This small park is right off the highway and offers a few miles of trail (about 5 miles in total). I have been working on building my fitness back up and after the Bolder Boulder,  I was feeling pretty sore so I wanted to hike/run. The trail from the book is 2 miles in a balloon configuration. After I finished the first loop, I was feeling pretty good so I decided to do another loop and then head back to the car, doing 3 miles total.

The trail starts just be the highway and you hike by open meadows before entering a lush forest. The trail winds around and up as you pass through open clearings every so often. The trail is hard packed dirt with very minimal rocks or roots. I did encounter some people on horseback that I had to wait while for them to find a spot to pull over so I could go around without spooking the horses or going off trail. The whole time I could hear the highway noise and the trail kept winding under giant power lines; not very serene if you ask me. A friend of mine said if you add the Old Ski Run Trail, you lose some of the noise, but I didn’t take that trail this time.

Pros:
-Great for a trail run; there are some fun, small, rolling hills and it’s hard packed dirt with minimal large rocks or roots.
-Lots of shade!
-Close to town.

Cons
-Too easy for an actual hike.
-Short; not many miles.
-Not very serene; the highway noise is constant and there are power lines that run right through the middle.
-Pretty busy, even in the middle of the day on a weekday.
-Multi-use with bikers and horseback riders.

Tips:
-Bring water; there is no potable water here.
-If visiting from out of town, you’re not far from Tiny Town, a fun little tourist spot in Morrison.

Overall:
I’m sure this place is great for really, close living, local people, offering a great place to run some trails, however, I wouldn’t recommend coming all this way for a hike here. The trails are short and not serene, plus the views aren’t that great. Would I have included this trail in the book? No, probably not. I feel like there are way better trails to be included. Now, would I come back and get an easier trail run in? Probably! It’s a great place to do some laps.


Park info

Get the book! 

Vegas’ Unknown Gem – Red Rock Canyon

How many times have you gone to Vegas? At least once, right? Most people have. I bet most people have never left the city, let alone the strip. Hey, I don’t blame them; it’s easy to get in a cheap and fun vacation in the City of Sin! I have been to Vegas twice (now three times) and never knew there was much beyond the strip.

Circa 2010 with one of my best friends, Amanda.

Now that I’m fully immersed in the climbing world (I own a guiding business after all), I know there’s so much more to Vegas. It’s now crazy to me how many people visit Vegas and have no idea there’s a beautiful National Conservation Area just minutes away. To each their own, I suppose; the outdoors is not for everyone!

If you are an outdoors enthusiast or looking for a side trip, just 15 minutes away from the Vegas strip (that’s even closer than visiting the Hover dam – which is still worthy of a visit) is an outdoor mecca waiting to be explored! Next time you are in Sin City, take a break from the nightly debauchery and explore this outdoor desert paradise!


Getting There:
From Vegas, take Charleston Blvd West.
That’s really it! It’s about 15 miles from the strip to the visitor’s center.

Things to do:
-TONS of climbing; literally 100’s of routes! I won’t get into climbing too much. If you are a climber, you know what resources to use to find an ideal route (friends, Mountain Project and a guidebook). Let’s just say if you are a climber and have NOT been here, you’re missing out.


-Hiking: there are a ton of trails spattered all over the place! Pick a pull out off the road and start hiking.


-Visit the visitor center: I do have to say this is probably one of the best visitor centers I’ve seen. They have a earth, wind, water and fire display (all centered around what created the desert) and it’s pretty cool.


-Look for a desert tortoise: They have one living at the visitor center but try and see if you can spot this elusive creature in the park.  Just please stay on the trails. (No, I have not seen one myself.)

-Take a drive: and pull over in every single pullout. There are some really unique views all over this 13-mile scenic drive. My favorite is the Calico Hills.

The Calico Hills during a freak snow storm

-Go horseback riding: Check out Cowboy Trail Rides.
-Camp: There’s only one campground in the area, the Red Rock Campground. It’s $17/night (I believe) and it’s first come, first served but it’s decent. It can get really crowded with dirtbags (I was one of them for a week). 😉
-Bike: You can road bike on the scenic drive and there are a few dirt trails for mountain bikers. Check in with the Visitor’s Center for trails open to mountain bikers.

Tips:
-Bring a map or a person that is really good at remembering which way you went on the trail. I do have to say, some of the trails as not marked very well and there’s a lot of braided trails all over. It’s easy to get going on the wrong one.
-If you’re camping, get there EARLY and be okay with dirtbags. There’s only one campground and it’s first-come-first-served and it’s full of dirty climbers! Many times, multiple groups are sharing one site, so it tends to be very crowded and occasionally noisy. (There are no showers, just pit toilets. There is potable water).
-The park has some pretty strict hours. If your climbing takes you past 5pm, make sure you leave a message with the rangers with your car’s info, where you’re climbing and when you’ll be out. In fact, if you are climbing, especially if you plan on being nighted; just read all the rules and regulations yourself.


We were there for about a week and got a lot of climbing in, a race and hiking. Here’s what we did:

Day 1: Visited the Visitor’s Center and then climbed a route called Olive Oil, a 665 ft, 5.7 rated route, with 5 pitches and a 2.5ish mile hike in and out. I only cried once when I got stuck in the chimney (Backstory: if you know me in real life, I tend to cry a lot while climbing. It’s getting better.) We got started a little late and ended up hiking out in the dark.

Day 2: Climbing a little bit in the Calico Hills before the storm came rolling across the desert. We didn’t get much in before the storm rolled through. We then went to the host hotel for the race to check in and get my packet.

Day 3:  Race Day. I did the Red Rock Canyon Half! Read my race recap here or find it on BibRave.com.  We took the remaing hours of the day to “rest” and walked around the Vegas Strip.

Day 4: Climbed Mescalito, a 1000ft, 5.7 grade peak with 7 pitches. The climb itself was fun and had a lot of fun features like a chimney, step arounds, ledges and some exposed slabs, but the more “fun” part was our descent. We were aiming for the hike out but ended up in this gulley with about 5 rappels and down climbing. It was miserable. We would be down climbing and then all of a sudden hit a drop off and see the rappel rings. Over and over and over. The sun was going down and we were tired. We touched the bottom of the peak just as the sun fully set, turned the headlamps on, and started the 3-mile hike to the car. Despite the hike out and down climb, this was probably the hardest full day of climbing I’ve ever expereience and I actually learned a lot and enjoyed the whole experience.

Day 5: Rest day! We found some easier climbing back in the Calico Hills and I led my first pitch!

We also camped at the red rock canyon campground for most of our nights except the night before my race. We stayed at the race’s host hotel, the Sun Coast Casino and had fun exploring the giant casino and did some bowling. It was also nice to get a shower in after the race before we had to check out and get back to camping life.

Next time you visit Las Vegas, I highly suggest taking a day trip to this National Conservation Area! It’s beautiful and so close to town!


More info:

Park hours (vary per season)
Fees: $15/vehicle (or free with a National Park’s Pass!)

Red Rock Canyon Website
BLM Red Rock Canyon Website

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Rabbit Mountain

(For 2017, I had a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver”  While I didn’t make it through all 60 that year, I have carried this goal into 2018.  All the specific trail details can be found in the book or online, but I’ll highlight some things about each trail in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail here. The numbers below are associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #39 – Rabbit Mountain: Eagle Wind Trail
Completed: 4/1/18 | Number Completed: 20/60 (One third done!)
Mode: Hiking
Location:  2 Miles north of Highway 66 and 53rd (north of Boulder and Longmont and just east of Lyons)
Distance: 3.9 miles
Difficulty: Easy
Type of trail: Hard packed dirt with larger rocks, balloon configuration
Exposure: Not much shade
Facilities: Toilets, Pavillion with picnic tables and a barbeque (no water)

My Experience:
We’re already in April of 2018 and I’ve only had a chance to do a few hikes. Easter Sunday arrived and I finally had a free moment and decided to check off a hike from my book. Since I was up in Longmont at my Mom’s house, I ventured to a trail not far from there. About a 10-minute drive led me to Rabbit Mountain. It wasn’t that busy and the temperature was perfect for a quick hike. I chose to do this trail this time of year because I have been warned by my family that there tends to be a ton of rattlesnakes in the summer.

Pros:
-Close to the city
-Great for families – there are a ton of benches and educational signs along the way
-Bathrooms and a pavilion with a barbeque at the trailhead

Cons:
-Not much shade
-Lots of rattlesnakes in the summer

Overall:
While I did enjoy my hike, I probably won’t be too eager to come back. Would I come here just to hike? No. Might I come here to get a run in? Yes. It’s a relatively easy trail and would be great for a trail run. I also don’t think I would come here in the warm months since I was warned multiple times of snakes and I’m terrified.

So, was it worth it the one time? Yes, but I’m not jumping at the opportunity to come back and wouldn’t necessarily recommend it for out of town guests.


Get the book

Check out the trail

Running in Fayetteville, Arkansas

Me running in Arkansas, circa 2013

You wouldn’t think that a farm country, southern state city like Fayetteville, Arkansas would be all that runner friendly, but you’d be wrong. It hasn’t always been runner friendly, but It has come a long way! I even think there’s been a Runner’s World “rave run” article from the area (but I couldn’t find it by google-ing it; so maybe not).

I’ve been to Fayetteville my fair share of times. My extended family lives there, my Dad lived there for awhile a couple years ago. Recently I had to go back for a funeral, 😥 , so I brought my running shoes with me hit the familiar trails.

As I grew up and became a runner, I watched the city (and surrounding areas) expand and change. One year, I ran the winding country roads near my Grandparent’s farm as huge pickup trucks weaved around me, looking shocked to see a tiny girl running along the road.

Another year, I ran a Turkey Trot 5k in a suburb of Fayetteville! I never ended up publishing my race recap for whatever reason (I probably got busy and blogging got pushed to the back burner and when I finally came back, I thought it was overdue and irrelevant) but it was a fun race and a PR at the time.

NWA (North West Arkansas) Turkey Trot

If you live there or are ever visiting, check out these awesome places to run!

1.The University
Located in the heart of Fayetteville, I think the University of Arkansas has a beautiful campus. There are plenty of sidewalks and a lot of shade trees. I recommend running over to Senior Walk where every graduate’s name is carved into the cement.

2. Meadow Valley Trail
Running east and west, I could access this easily from where my Dad lived and my Grandma currently lives. This section of trail runs behind the Agriculture centers of the University and is surrounded by fields of greenhouses and cows. Doesn’t sound appealing? It’s actually pretty relaxing to look at. The best part about this section of trail is that it connects to the main Razorback Greenway that runs north and south to even more places to run.

3. Scull Creek Trail
This trail is part of the Razorback Greenway (basically it IS The Razorback Greenway). This north and south running trail is a safe and scenic as it follows the creek. If you run north, you eventually connect to Lake Fayetteville and if you run south, you can get to the University. I remember running this trail and discovering where the cross country meets take place (as a newbie coach at the time, I was enthralled and thought it was so cool!)

4. Lake Fayetteville
I have not actually run here but it looks amazing! There are concrete and dirt trails for runners and bikers to use and runners for the area rave about it!

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Whether you plan on running in Fayetteville or not, you HAVE to check out this awesome video made by the City!


Races in/near Fayetteville, AR by RunningInTheUSA.com

City of Fayetteville Parks Website – they have an awesome interactive map of all the areas trails and bike paths.

Trail Running Near Fayetteville, AR