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Blackmer Loop, Cheyenne Mountain State Park
The Blackmer Trail is one of Cheyenne Mountain State Park's premier loops, as it showcases a rare "transition zone," where foothill shrublands meet the montane forest ecosystem. High-altitude cravings won't be satiated, but anyone seeking a stroll or bike ride through serenity will be pleased.
Catch the Boulder Run Trail by following the sidewalks on the south side of the amphitheater parking lot, perched at a scenic point overlooking the mountain and Fort Carson to the east. The concrete paths give way to steps. Go down and see the marker for Boulder Run to your right. It stretches shortly to Blackmer's two-pronged trailhead. We walked straight and got the sense that mountain bikers preferred this option for the slight downhill.
Old fence posts and rusted farm equipment tangled in the tall grass call to mind this land's ranching days. The meadow soon ends, and the forest begins. The thicket of mountain mahogany, pine, piñon and juniper lend the feel of a true nature walk. We were accompanied by songbirds, butterflies and dragonflies and spotted several lizards. Glimpse through the trees for the mountain's granite face in one direction, the plains in the other.
The woods clear for views of the hillsides before the trail dips to the drainage. We came to a 'T' and found a post missing its sign. If you started straight as we did, go left to continue the loop. If you started left, veer right at this post, continuing on the trail directly across from it. We finished by transitioning again to meadows and rock gardens that felt far removed from the highway traffic in sight.
Trip log: 3.6 miles round trip (loop), 476-foot elevation gain
Getting there: Off Interstate 25, take exit 140 for Tejon Street/Nevada Avenue. Go south on Nevada, which becomes Colorado 115. Park entrance is off the highway. Through the fee kiosk, follow signs to amphitheater parking lot.
FYI: $7 entrance fee. Multi-use trail. No dogs allowed.
SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE