~ by Bob Volpe ~
Now that the city of Woodland Park will soon be blessed with an actual dog park, some pet owners may also be wondering about forest service trails they can hike with their canine companions.
The opportunities for you and Fido are endless.
In Teller County, we are most fortunate to have a plethora of national forest trails so close to town. There are hundreds of miles of trails on this land for hikers, mountain bikers, equestrians, ATV riders and
dog owners to enjoy. All of these trails are also a great place to take the pooch out for some exercise.
Here are a few suggestion close to Woodland Park:
Distance: 5.5 miles round trip (balloon loop). This beautifully scenic trail is tucked in right outside of Woodland Park off of Rampart Range Road. The spot is popular with hikers and those folks riding bikes or horses. This is also a dog-friendly trail.
Once you get through the initial section of backyard hiking the trail opens up to meadows, a nice stream and gorgeous views. On the way back on the trail, don’t miss taking a picture with the goal post tree! Please note that to make the most of the elevation gain it is advised to travel this trail in a counter-clockwise direction from the start point. To find the trailhead, drive up Rampart Range Road past the
WP Middle School, until you see the new city maintenance building. Turn left into the parking area.
Distance: 6 miles round trip (including a loop called the Elder-Fehn trail). This family and dog-friendly trail is located just outside of Woodland Park a few miles back Edlowe Road and is part of the Catamount Ranch Resource Protection Area. There are two, clearly marked trails and from May through September the trail is the portal to the Ring the Peak Trail and the North Slope Recreation Area. This tranquil hike
provides excellent views of Pike Peak and scenic lunch spots along the shores of the North and South Catamount and Crystal Reservoirs. More information can be found at
Forest Service Road 339
This is one of the lesser known dog friendly trails close to Woodland Park. The trail follows Trout Creek and has very little elevation gain. It also features several beaver ponds where your dog can cool
To find this route, drive north on Hwy. 67 about a mile past the turn to Lion’s Camp and Red Rocks Group Campground. Look carefully on the left for the turn onto FS road 339.
Mule Creek Trail
The Mule Creek Trail is a 7 mile out-and-back that follows along Trout Creek and Mule Creek. It begins off of Forest Service Road 75, just off of Hwy. 67. Look for a trail marker that designates allowed
uses at the trailhead.
The single track winds through aspen and pines. Within the first mile, there are several rocky sections where you’ll have to watch your footing. The trail then climbs steadily without sustained steep
sections; however roots, rocky features and several river crossings keep the hike interesting. Near the end of the trail, it passes a cabin, and joins into the 717 system. As mapped out here, the trail
ends at trail 717A. From here you can turn back around and retrace your steps or head further into the 717 trail system.
This is just a small sampling of the many dog friendly trails available around Woodland Park. Some things to keep in mind while out enjoying the great outdoors with your dog are: In general, it is not
recommended to let your dog off the leash unless you are in an enclosed area. Your dog must be properly trained to behave well and stay right by your side or under your voice control at all times when
it is off the leash. Do not allow your dog to harass wildlife.
Pets are allowed in all national forests, but must be kept on a leash no longer than 6 feet at all times while in developed recreation areas and on interpretive trails. Most other areas within the National
Forests do not require dogs to be on a leash, but they should be under
control at all times.