Saturday, June 6, 2015

High Prairie Spring at Memmen Ridge Open Space

Ponderosa Pine along Memmen Ridge Open Space Trail
If it could bloom it was in bloom on the 43 acres of the Memmen Ridge Open Space in Castle Rock. The sun was out for the first spring afternoon in weeks with no rain and life was proudly announcing itself to the blue skies.  The Memmen Ridge Open Space is in the southern portion of Castle Rock and runs adjacent to near-downtown neighborhoods.

 A popular local 5K fitness route runs through Memmen Ridge and has about 120' of elevation gain along the path.  The area is popular with runners, walkers, mountain bikers and dog walkers.
27% of Castle Rock's land area is devoted to parks, trails and open spaces like this with a total of 56 miles of both natural surface and paved trails within the town limits.  It is nice to be able to walk or bicycle so near your home.

The short 1.9 mile hike runs from the willows in the riparian area near the stream through meadows up to a mature ponderosa pine forest on the north ridge, and takes about 50 minutes to circumnavigate on the hiking trail.  A cross trail can provide plenty of exploring with a bench or two at specific sites.  This was a great break from the town and was a surprisingly good hike.  It would make a moderate-difficulty mountain bike ride too.

It was a very peaceful hike, with red-headed warblers and Colorado bluebirds flitting among the oak scrub, grasshoppers springing up from the dirt trail in front of me and the low sound of wind in the trees.  The smell of the pines was strong, the meadow air was fresh as just washed, and the varied blossoms of cactus, Indian paintbrush and bluebells colored the scene.  From the ridge you could see over the town to the front range in the west.

How to find Memmen Ridge Open Space: From the Castle Rock/Highway 86 exit 182 on I-25, travel south on Wilcox Street to 5th Street (Highway 86) and make a left turn.  Go 5 blocks and turn right on Gilbert Street.  At the stop sign at South Street, turn left and then take your first right onto S. Oman Road.  Make a quick left into the trailhead parking lot.  A trail map is available HERE.

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