Friday, May 26, 2006

Happy Trails: Hall Ranch Open Space

Hall Ranch is a favorite destination for Boulder-area mountain bikers, hikers and horseback-riders, and it can easily be part of a day trip that includes a stop at nearby Rocky Mountain National Park. The open space is managed by Boulder County, and lies one mile from Lyons.

To get there: From Denver, take U.S. Highway 36 to the small town of Lyons. Drive through town and turn left on Colorado Highway 7. Watch for trailhead parking on your right in a mile.

Details: Ten miles round-trip, about 1,500 feet in elevation gain; rated two boots (moderate).

The hike: You will start on Brittlebush Trail at the west end of the parking lot. The first mile, the trail winds gently through an open brushy area. When the trail's switchbacks tighten, you're in a rocky area. The trail eventually smooths out again, but continues to climb. When you reach Nelson Loop, about four miles in, you're still climbing. The loop is named for an old ranch house. The high point on this trail offers a great view of nearby Longs Peak in Rocky Mountain National Park.

Information: Open to hikers, bikes, horses. This area is great for hiking or riding, but doesn't offer much shade, so wear sunscreen and bring plenty of water. Dogs aren't allowed. 1-303-678-6200;

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