Ridgeline Open Space, Castle Rock
The Meadows neighborhood of Castle Rock doesn’t appear like an ideal place for a nature escape. Houses march on with the commercial chains you’d expect in this booming suburb between Colorado Springs and Denver.
But the young families here are a Colorado-loving people. And Colorado-loving people need their trail time.
Enter Ridgeline Open Space.
It suddenly emerges in the oak-covered folds that defy development, that remain unblemished for the wildlife that resides here. You’re likely to spot deer along a trail network of such length that neighbors and visitors have plenty of room for serene privacy.
More than 13 miles of stacked loops meander across 367 acres. They lend themselves to distance-craving mountain bikers and runners. Before venturing out, be sure to take a good look at the trail map posted. Take a picture for your phone, to help orient you as you go along the well-marked system. Make sure you don’t go farther than you’re prepared, especially considering you’ll be exposed to sun the whole time.
For this trip, we kept it to the blue- and red-labeled loops, two of the four.
From the trailhead map, we ascended the path to open grasslands with views of Mount Evans and Longs Peak, among high summits in the distance. The recognizable Devil’s Head outcrop is also on the menu.
At the first split, we veered right for the red marker. The trail winds down through low woods before meeting the start of the yellow loop. We stayed left for red, following brief pavement back up to the high meadow. We followed blue markers back to the trailhead.
The full route following the outer parts of all loops (blue, red, yellow and green) amounts to about 91/2 miles.
Trip log: 3 miles, 674-foot elevation gain
Getting there: Trailhead at 2525 Coachline Road, Castle Rock. On Interstate 25, take exit 181 for west Plum Creek Parkway. Follow to Coachline Road; parking will be on left.
FYI: Hiking and biking. Dogs on leash. Park open 5 a.m.-11 p.m.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE