DOUGLAS COUNTY — In our exclusive series Adventures with Alan, we'll travel across Southern Colorado week-by-week to show you thrills and chills, hidden gems and well-known spots.
This week, our adventure takes us to Douglas County for a first time visit to one of Southern Colorado's newest open spaces.
The Sandstone Ranch Open Space opened to the public in September of 2020, and is a great destination for hiking, biking, horseback riding, and dog walking.
It's less than 10 miles from Palmer Lake, or about a half an hour from Colorado Springs.
Before going out on our hike, here's some really interesting history to know about the region.
The ranch's 2,038 acres were originally zoned for housing.
But in 2018, Douglas County acquired the land and moved forward with their plans to create a place that everyone could enjoy.
Less than two years old, the open space offers 12 miles of trails and two major loops around the park.
We start out on the Sandstone Meadow Trail, the more challenging of the two big loops.
Listed as moderate, it's a 3.7 mile hike that covers 305 feet of elevation gain.
The park itself is nestled up against the Pike National Forest, and offers stunning views of the Front Range foothills.
Around the half-mile mark, we come up to the Wildlife Overlook.
Although we don't spot any wildlife from the overlook, off in the distance is a small pond that's known to attract many different types of animals.
The pond is visibly dry in relation to the how high up the dock is, and serves as a reminder of our state's ongoing drought.
On some of the trail's more elevated sections, we're afforded scenic vistas of the surrounding red rocks, wide open ranch land, and old ranch buildings.
Signs along the pathways are there to remind visitors to stay on the trails at all times and to observe the proper right-of-way rules.
This includes communicating to other hikers or bikers before passing, and to yield when necessary to other trail users.
Lastly, dogs are welcome here, but must be kept on leashes.
In spite of the mild air, shaded spots along the trail are snow covered and icy, and serve as a reminder that it's still winter.
Peaceful and quiet, the Sandstone Ranch provides a perfect getaway for anyone looking to hit the trails.
The idea for our hike at the Sandstone Ranch Open Space came from a News 5 viewer.
Now, we want to hear from you! Send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.