Glendale Farm Open Space

There’s a legend told in the hilly region south of Denver. It’s a region history recalls as “Happy Canyon,” perhaps for a man said to have roamed here on horseback.

“A happy man, he could always be heard singing as he rode over the hills,” reads a sign today at Glendale Farm Open Space.

The open space is another testament to Douglas County’s commitment to preserving its ranching history. It’s a wind-swept spread of oak and prairie, a scenic buffer between Lone Tree and Castle Rock development. Despite Interstate 25’s proximity, the county’s sales tax-funded Open Space, Trails and Parks program in 1997 ensured a different fate for this land.

Upon settling here in 1885, a Bavarian immigrant named his farm Glendale. There are few signs of the life he left behind — the cattle, orchard and fields of rye and corn. Over the hum of highway and air traffic, one can only imagine.

Driving the interstate’s northbound lane, you’ve probably spotted the large parking lot and dog park. A trail stretches east through the low woods, away from the rush.

We did the loop counter-clockwise, going right at the early split. This ensures ending at the rewarding overlook atop a high rock.

There are subtle ups and downs across the folding landscape, well-suited for the beginner mountain biker. The trail meets a private property line and trends west. In a little over a mile, rather than descending at the split back to the parking lot, stay straight to continue on the rocky, spine-like ridge.

The path dead-ends at a bench facing the mountain range in clear view, running between Pikes and Longs peaks. The highway is unrelenting. But listen closely, and maybe you’ll hear singing.

Trip log: 1.6 miles, 194 feet elevation

Getting there: Open space at 12300 S. Havana St., Castle Rock. Going north on I-25, take exit 188 for Castle Pines Parkway, keeping right at the fork and merging onto the parkway. Turn left onto Havana Street and continue to parking lot.

FYI: Open one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset. Hiking, biking, horseback riding. Dogs on leash unless in dog park.