#60HikesDenverChallenge – Deer Creek Open Space Park: Meadowlark Plymouth Creek Loop

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(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles Denver Edition.” You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

So far, as you can see, I got after it in January – I’ve gotten SIX trails done from the book! February has started off a little slower as I battled a bad cold, my schedule drastically changed, and I race directed my first race. I’m left with two more weeks of February and I haven’t checked a new one off! Here’s the most recent one I got at the end of last month….

Trail #17 – Deer Creek Open Space Park: Meadowlark Plymouth Creek Loop
Completed: 1/28/17 | Mode: Run/Hike
Location: Ken Caryl Deer Creek Canyon Rd. and Grizzly Rd.
Distance: 2.5 miles (we did 2.9)
Difficulty:  Challenging! Gradual climbs will some steep spots. Icy in the winter
Surface: Hard packed dirt with some bigger rocks in parts
Exposure: Lots of shade

My Experience:
FINALLY! Finally an actual HIKE! The past ones have been super flat and I wouldn’t call them hikes, but this one got the legs burning and the heart pumping. We did run it, of course, but it had some great climbs for hiking as well. We got to the trails as the sun was starting to go behind the mountains making it shady and chilly in spots, but the trail winds and curves around valleys, popping in and out of the beautiful sunshine. It was a great run. Neither Ben or I had been down to the Ken Caryl area before and it was well worth it.

Pros
-Beautiful
-Challenging
-The main loop is 2.5 miles but you can take a side path to other loops to add on the mileage
-Quite and away from the city
-Not that crowded, at least on a Saturday late afternoon in January

Cons
-Icy spots during the winter (but still able to run on it)

Overall
This would be a great place to take people from out of the state but that don’t want to travel far. This area is about 20 minutes from where I live, but well worth the drive to get a run in. There are more trails in the area as well that I can’t wait to check out!


Check out the book I’m getting all the trails from:

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Denver: Washington Park

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(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles Denver Edition.” You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #18 – Denver: Washington Park
Completed: 1/25/17 | Mode: Running!
Location: Denver – Virginia Ave. & Downing St.
Distance: 2 miles (I ran extra and got in 3.25)
Difficulty:  Easy, peasy
Surface: Hard packed dirt on the outer trail and a mix of concrete, asphalt, and dirt inside around the lakes and fields
Exposure: Lots of shade from GIANT old trees!

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My Experience: 
It’s well known to people who know me that I hate driving. I hate driving in Denver even more. So when I needed to run an errand for work in Denver, I decided to kill two birds with one stone. The only trail in the book that is in Denver proper is Washington Park. Now, I’ve run here before, a handful of years back on a first date with a guy I met while trying out online dating. I remember making two full loops around the park (about 5 miles total) and thinking it was a lovely run. Coming back to this park, I can’t help but reflect on the terrible online dates I had back then, but also on how in-shape I was, being able to easily bust out 5 miles on a whim. The three plus miles I did this past week was pretty exhausting, but I digress.

Wash Park (what the locals call it) is a little bit of nature amidst the busy city. While you can still hear and smell the cars, there are giant old trees around every corner reminding you just how old Denver is. The trail encircles a few ponds, large fields, and tennis quarts. This is a super popular place for summer activities. Think volleyball, running (duh),  kite flying, paddle boats, and more! A lot of races happen here as well.

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Pros
-Flat
-Lots of surfaces to choose from (hard packed dirt and concrete/asphalt)
-Can get a lot of miles in here depending on how many loops you want to do

Cons
-Can hear/smell/see cars
-Can get crowded especially on the weekends and in the summer
-Traffic around and to/from here can be a nightmare
-Limited amounts of “good” parking

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Tips
-If you’re driving into the city, I’d visit during the week when there will be plenty of parking. Side street parking gets tricky.
-Depending on how many miles you’re trying to get, you can do the outermost loop (like I did) and then add some miles by going around the little ponds to create variation.

Overall
Although I’m still unsure as to whom this book would be intended for, I’m going on the assumption that people who live in Denver would buy this book to experience trails close to home (within 60 miles). I’m not sure this place needed to be included, not would I call it a “hike.” Sure, it’s a great city escape and lovely place to run for the locals, but I wouldn’t come back, driving 30 minutes, just to run here.

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Check it out (affiliate link):

Check out some of the other popular cities:
Seattle:

Washington D.C.

San Francisco

AND LOTS MORE! 

#60HikesDenverChallenge – Evergreen: Evergreen Lake

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(For 2017, I have a goal of getting through all 60 trails in the book “60 Hikes Within 60 Miles Denver Edition.” You’ll see these posts all year-long. You can find a lot of info on each of the trails in the book, but I’ll highlight some things each time in addition to including my experience and opinion on the trail. The number below is associated with how they are labeled in the book if you have it.)

Trail #20 – Evergreen: Evergreen Lake
Completed: 1/11/17 | Mode: Walk (with Ben)
Location: Evergreen – Evergreen Pkwy and Bear Creek Rd
Distance: 1.28 (This is in the book. Part of the trail was closed the day we did it. We ended up doing a double out and back getting in about 2 miles total.)
Difficulty: Super easy (although, very icy this time of year)
Surface: Hard packed Dirt
Exposure: Half in shade

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My Experience:
After dragging the sick boyfriend off of the couch, we made our way to Evergreen Lake. I promise I’m not mean, I was just trying to get him moving and get some fresh air! Evergreen Lake was perfect and a short hike around a beautiful frozen lake is just what the doctor ordered. We didn’t get to do the exact trail from the book (a 1.2-mile loop) because the part by the road was closed (I’m guessing this is due to snow fall and the plows covering the trail). We ended up doing a double out and back. The best part of this trail was the beautiful “waterfall” of the water cascading out of the dam. We weren’t expecting it as it as we came around the corner.

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Pros:
-Flat
-Partly shady
-Beautiful surrounding area

Cons:
-Short

Tips:
-Bring the ice skates (or rent them); there’s a fun outdoor ice rink in the winter!
-The trail can get icy in the winter where the sun doesn’t shine

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Overall:
I really liked our outing at the lake, it was a nice way to get out of the house. However, I wouldn’t go out of my way here just to get a run in. I would take people from out-of-town here to get a great glimpse at mountain living without driving too far.

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Let me re-introduce myself….

Let me introduce myself...Hi! I'm Whitney!

Let me introduce myself…Hi! I’m Whitney!

Yes, I’m done with my National Park posts…for now….but in the process of talking about our wonderful parks, I have gained a bunch of new followers!

Welcome! Thanks for following along on my adventures; I hope you enjoy them!

Since a lot of you weren’t with me when I starting this blogging adventure about four years ago (woah. shock and disbelief!), I’d like to re-introduce myself to you all and share how I started, why I blog now and what you can expect to read from me.

Running Ragnar Road Relay 2015

Running Ragnar Road Relay 2015

Well, for starters, I’m Whitney! Currently in Golden, I have lived all over the Colorado front range growing up from Colorado Springs up to Fort Collins. While many people argue this fact, I am a Colorado-Native…Ish. I was indeed born in a different state (South Dakota) but moved here when I was measly 6-months old… So you can call me whatever you want, but I feel like a native because I have no memories of South Dakota and I was born on an Air-Force base which is like neutral territory, right? Anyway…

While I don’t believe peoples’ jobs define them, mine are pretty close to my identity which hasn’t always been the case in the past. I have always been a jack of all traits and have had many random jobs in the past (even dressing up as Mr. Peanut, true story), they have all lead me to my current careers (yes, plural). I own a mountain guiding business in Golden, CO called Golden Mountain Guides. I also do marketing and event production for a running company, 3W Races. Somewhere in there, I have found extra time and I also coach high school cross country and track & field.

My boyfriend and I, owners of Golden Mountain Guides

My boyfriend and I, owners of Golden Mountain Guides

That gives you a little bit of a back ground on me and you can understand why I believe, in my rare case, that my jobs may actually define me. Although, it is not all that defines me. I have a HUGE love for all most things outdoors including running and climbing, and probably an even bigger love for travel. All of those things led me to creating this blog.

Attempting Mt. Whitney

Attempting Mt. Whitney

Dang, I can’t believe it’s been a little over four years since I started this! You can see history in the making here, with my first post. After reading some old stuff, I feel that I have come a long way.

Originally this blog was made to document my goal of running a race in every state. While I still really want to accomplish this (I’m up to 13 states!), over the years my blog as become way more than that.

Running like the Wind, or at least trying to, in Washington.

Running like the Wind, or at least trying to, in Washington.

It became a place to vent, to challenge myself and others, a motivation outlet and seeker, and has been becoming a sort of lifestyle blog. Back in the beginning of the year, I “re-branded” Racing the States. While the web address still reads the same, I have come to title my blog “Racing and Wandering” and changed the look and feel completely.

Now, I’d like to think of this writing outlet as a “wanderer’s lifestyle” blog. I still run, a lot, but I have a stronger desire than ever to see very inch of this world. In the last couple of years or so, I have gotten more opportunities to do so by means of travel and have seen some incredible places (last year I got to go to London baby)!

My dad and I on a double-decker bus in London.

My dad and I on a double-decker bus in London.

I’d like to be able to share my adventures with my readers, in addition to my running. I’d like to motivate more people to seek out what makes them happy, and if it’s travel, offer up places to explore, ways to do it wisely (and cheaply) and hope that you never feel stuck in this world.

Death Valley!

Death Valley!

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Instagram is my favorite! Or Facebook is ok too.