Colorado Springs Military Newspaper Group

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Where to go when it’s time to take a hike

By Nel Lampe

CSMNG

Last month, more than 2,000 runners finished the Pikes Peak Ascent — and 139 of them ran the Pikes Peak Marathon the next day.

Now, that’s fit.

But many people aren’t interested in running up Pikes Peak, let alone making it a round trip the next day. They just want to be healthier — perhaps getting out of the office or the house three or four times a week for an hour of walking.

People who live on a local military installation have their regular places to walk, but might like a change of pace and scenery. There are parks in the area that have lots of amenities and are family-friendly — perhaps a good way to turn a walk into a family activity.

El Paso County Parks has some of the best parks in the area, with lots of park land and a total of 85 miles of trails. Some of the parks have gazebos or pavilions and water features. El Paso County Parks include Black Forest Regional Park, Fox Run Regional Park Paint Mines Regional Park, Widefield Community Park, Clear Spring Ranch Park and Ceresa Park. Two county parks have nature centers: Bear Creek Park and Fountain Creek Park.

Bear Creek Park

There are four miles of picturesque hiking nature trails, ranging from easy to moderate, which are especially family-friendly. Trails may be used from dawn to dark and are near scrub oak, ponderosa pine trees, cottonwood trees, meadows and a creek. Near the foothills, sometime deer, birds and other wild life may be seen.

There are several miles of easy-to-moderate walking paths.

The Bear Creek Nature Center is the park’s special place. The nature center has first class displays, history of the region, taxidermy wildlife displays, a working swarm of bees, interactive exhibits and large windows for bird watching.

The nature center is open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Wednesdays to Fridays, and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.

Upcoming programs include classes for 2-3 year olds, such as Animal Senses Oct. 27 at 9 a.m. and Turkey Time Nov. 23 at 9 a.m. There’s a $3 fee and reservations are required.

Programs for children ages 4-5 (with an adult), include Lunch for a Bear, Oct. 20 at 9 a.m. and Sensational Scavengers, Nov. 17 at 9 a.m. The fee is $4.

Family programs include Pebble Pups and Rock Hounds Oct. 22 at 10 a.m.; a Teddy Bear Picnic Nov. 5 at 10:30 a.m. and Telescopes for Beginners Workshop Nov. 18 , 6:30 p.m. Wild Turkey Trivia and Hike is Nov. 19 at 10 a.m. The programs require reservations and a $5 fee.

Call the Bear Creek Park Nature Center at 520-6387 for reservations.

Bear Creek Park is on Colorado Springs’ west side. The nature center is in the park, 245 Bear Creek Road, near 26th Street and Lower Gold Camp Road.

Fountain Creek Park

Fountain Creek Nature Center is near wetlands and Fountain Creek. There’s also a cattail marsh area. Wildlife seen in the area includes deer, beaver, foxes, muskrats, turtles and frogs. There sometimes are blue herons in the area and many birds.

The nature center has a large window that looks out on Fountain Creek and provides a spectacular view of Pikes Peak.

Inside the nature center are telescopes that may be used to watch the birds and turtles, and lots of displays for visitors to touch and learn about area wildlife.

Several taxidermy displays are in the nature center as well as interactive exhibits..

There are several walking trails near the Nature Center

Upcoming nature programs are:

For ages 2-3, Spiders: Weavers and Hunters, Oct. 13 at 9 a.m., What Makes a Forest, Nov. 10 at 9 a.m. $3.

For ages 3-6, with an adult: Have to Have Habitat, Oct. 6, 9 a.m.; A Peek at Teeth, Nov. 3, 9 a.m.

Programs for all ages: Bond at the Pond, Oct. 8, noon; Fall Star gazing for Beginners, Oct. 21 at 7 p.m.; Pajamas in the Park: Beavers and Bear, Oh My! Oct. 28, 5:30 p.m.; spend the night; Kid’s Nature Games and cookout Nov. 19, 9 a.m.; fees are $4-$10.

Make reservations for nature programs by calling at the nature center at 520-6745.

The Fountain Creek Nature Center is open Wednesday-Friday, 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. It is at 320 Pepper Grass Lane in Fountain — off Highway 85/87, between Widefield and Fountain.

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