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Where the prairie meets the forest lies a treat for anglers, equestrians, hikers and more.
Homestead Ranch Regional Park is a 450-acre property at the edge of Black Forest that includes a stocked, spring-fed pond; terrain ranges from rolling meadows to tree-covered bluffs. Amenities include a playground, picnic pavilions and playfield. The pond and creek in the central valley of the park attract deer, coyotes, foxes and about three-dozen types of waterfowl and birds. There's a water trough and hitch rack for horses; horse trailers are a common sight in the park's parking lot.
Part of Rattlesnake Butte, a prominent landmark in eastern El Paso County, is located within the park; from it, park visitors can view the Front Range and the Sangre de Cristo Mountains in the distance. Hikers and equestrians can access about 3.5 miles of trail, with two loops.
The land once belonged to Charles Cheese, who homesteaded the property in 1888; his holdings grew to 2,160 acres as he purchased other homesteads. The ranch was divided among his heirs after his death in 1930; the park property was purchased from John and Gladys Person, Cheese family heirs, in 1986. Development began in the late 1990s.
The park's address is 16444 Gollihar Road. From Colorado Springs, take US 24. to Elbert Road. Go north on Elbert Road, then turn right onto Sweet Road to Gollihar. Turn left on Gollihar. To see a park video, go to youtube.com/watch?v=_ObWyvlIJGo.
Homestead is one of nine regional parks in El Paso County. The newest, Falcon Regional Park, opened last year. That park is east of the Meridian Ranch Development and north of Falcon High School. A dog park is expected to open at Falcon Regional Park this fall.