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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 Stanley Lake Canyon

I had no idea the general public was ever allowed on the Air Force Academy grounds. I guess I just always assumed it was a closed and secured facility for the cadets and instructors alone. Of course, naturally, I always wondered how folks were allowed on the grounds for the different hockey and football games, but actually didn’t give it a whole ton of thought. Then the place opened up to me with an end-of-the-season hike with Kory Kilmer.
The AFA is nestled into the hills just north of Colorado Springs in an area that’s difficult to match in terms of beauty along the front range of the Rocky Mountains. The moment I drove through the security checkpoint I felt like I was transported to a totally different place; one of a beautiful landscape with large hills opposed to a locked down military installation. Of course though, as it is just that, all of the necessities can be found there.
We met at the trailhead for the Stanley Canyon and Lake trail near the hospital. The link Kory sent me gave me the impression that the difficulty, only in the beginning was short lived and that a beautiful hike through a stunning canyon was a reward worth any troubles in the beginning. Of course, the reward of the canyon and lake was worth it, but that uphill hike to start the trail is grueling and not one to be snubbed.
Three or four stops into it, and much mental cursing later, we finally made it to the top of the hill and the mouth of the canyon. It was difficult this late in the season as Colorado has had a bit of a cold snap with some snow, but it was worth it for our out-of-shape bodies to have one last go at the trails before snowshoeing season set in. Of course, I wasn’t too sure about this as we climbed the steep hill and found myself shooting Kory the ol’ stink eye more than once.

It was definitely all forgiven though, even as we trudged through a few good inches of snow, as the trail opened up to the meadow that eventually came and a beautiful lake. The idea of the trail only being two miles though seemed absurd, so I’m glad we had some extra time to get up there and back without being rushed. It’s unfortunate though that we didn’t go earlier and pack a lunch because Stanley Lake is an ideal Colorado mountain lake to kick back for a great hiking picnic.
Some hikers we ran into on the way up made it sound like the hike down was more difficult than up since their shoes were wet as they scrambled over some rocks that were an excuse for the actual trail. It actually was the trail, but it wasn’t difficult by any means. We both had a bit of quad and ankle pain as we walked on the loose gravel, but the jet flyover we saw as the eastern plains opened up to us acted as a mental ibuprofen.
My interview with Kory Kilmer on his site.

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