Enjoy easy winter access along 21st Street for hiking at Bear Creek Regional Park.

To explore the east side: From 21st Street, head east on Rio Grande Street for a few hundred yards to the park entrance on the right/south side of the street. Drive along the winding road past the HQ Visitor Center (restrooms available) and swing left past the large community garden area to the parking lot east of the gardens.

Hike east to begin the Butterfly Loop. The wide flat trail is popular among hikers, bikers, runners and dog walkers. A “Scoop the Poop” station with baggies is available near the lot, so be sure to remove pet waste in this heavily used area.

Note that another parallel trail a bit to the north follows the Bear Creek riparian corridor for about a quarter-mile. The riparian area is full of shrubs and cottonwoods and offers great birding, especially during spring and fall migration. In the winter, Black-billed Magpies are common and remnants of their bulky stick nests are visible in the trees.

From the parking area, head east for .75 mile to a point where the loop swings southward for about a quarter-mile, then swings back westward.

Continue through expansive grassland with some cattail marshes and a stunning mountain backdrop. After about a mile reach a point near 21st Street and cut right, heading northward through a deciduous woodland for about a half-mile back to the community gardens and parking area.

On the way out of the park, stop at the Bear Creek Nature Center and if staff is available they can provide a detailed map with mileages for all the various trails throughout Bear Creek Regional Park.

Joe LaFleur has lived in Woodland Park since 2016 and is a hiking enthusiast who hits the trails weekly. Contact Joe with questions or feedback at joelafleur@tds.net. Hiking is great exercise, but can be hazardous. Always be sure to plan well, check the weather, bring a printed map, tell someone where and when you are going, and contact them when you return safely.

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