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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Hiking Dawson Butte Ranch

Sundays during the fall are normally days I reserve for one thing and one thing only: football. On this particular Sunday, though, I was making an exception. When I went to bed Saturday night, content after my hike at the Lair o’ the Bear, I anticipated having some reservations about this the next morning, but my determination had not faded when the sun rose – or, more appropriately for when I tend to wake up, when the sun was at its zenith. I had a great hike at the Dawson Butte Ranch picked out, and I wasn’t going to miss it.

The weather was holding fine, although it was a little chillier out than the day before; snow was supposed to arrive later in the evening. I dressed warmly, phoned a friend to have some company on the trail, and set out on the road. The drive was no more than thirty minutes, but it felt like an eternity, since I was still itching to get some outdoor exercise in to shed the Thanksgiving pounds – the previous day just wasn’t enough.
I didn’t do the best job in following the directions, but found the trailhead (right) after a short detour on the wrong side of the interstate. When we climbed out of the car, it was almost immediately evident that we were underdressed. As so often happens in Colorado, the weather was totally different here than where we departed from; the wind was blowing hard and the temperature was a few degrees cooler. We were brave souls, though, and shrugged it off on the fact that we’d warm up as we got moving.
The five-mile-long loop turned out to be just what I was looking for to complete the weekend. Once again I was buried in a forest of tall ponderosa pines, which occasionally opened to reveal a small meadow or a view of Dawson Butte, which was just what I needed. I had wanted to get out and spend some time on the trail this weekend, working off some poundage in the process after a Thanksgiving dinner that lasted the better part of six hours, and enjoy the outdoors before it becomes too cold and snow-covered.
There was little up and down to the Dawson Butte Ranch loop trail. The elevation gain was minimal, unlike the Lair o’ the Bear hike where I must have gained at least eight hundred feet in about a mile. I wasn’t disappointed, though, since this trail was longer and just as scenic with spectacular views of the foothills surrounding us. I was simply in heaven doing exactly what I wanted that day, rarely missing my time on the sofa with the clicker and a game.
We made our way around the loop in just under two hours, and at the end I wished there had been more. I could have easily done another couple of miles in the foothills, despite the dropping temperatures. But, it appeared our timing was perfect, since we encountered snow flurries the moment we pulled onto Interstate 25 to head back north from the Castle Rock area.

The Thanksgiving pounds I gained aren’t nearly gone from my two hikes, but I made a good start of it. And I did it the way I wanted to: I hiked two separate trails in the weekend opposed to mindlessly shuffling along on a treadmill; I got out and enjoyed some of the finest natural beauty Colorado has to offer in close proximity to the Denver metropolitan area. My only hope is that the snow and the temperature stays up high enough so I can do it again soon.

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