Bluffs Regional Park, Lone Tree

Every trail has a purpose. And while the trademark trail in Colorado climbs to high altitudes with unparalleled views, many others are designed to simply get users out of their houses. Take, for example, the modest loop at Bluffs Regional Park, essentially in the backyard of some not-so-modest homes.

Lone Tree residents of the gated, stucco-roofed neighborhood wake and get the blood flowing on the path circling a grassy knoll. Runners and horse riders share space on the 8- to 9-foot tread. Hard-core outdoor enthusiasts will dismiss it as just another urban trail, but those wanting a quick workout and the simple delights of nature are satisfied.

Going clockwise or counterclockwise on the loop won't mean much of an incline difference. The most significant gain, though, is had by staying straight initially, continuing clockwise. We went right, opting to enjoy the short overlook spurs at the end, one of which is named for Edward Tepe, a former Douglas County planner who believed these 253 acres were well worth preserving

We visited the morning after a rain, and the shades of green on the hillsides varied with the colors of wildflowers and songbirds. Up and over a bend, Denver's skyline came into view with the plains in the distance behind it. Farther on, the loop felt sort of like a tour of the area's opulence, with impressive houses and their stables and private golf holes seen below. Commercial rooftops dominated other vistas. It was impossible not to appreciate the trail when the scene was only wavy openness.

Trip log: 2.7 miles round trip (loop), 492-foot elevation gain, 6,276 feet max

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: Off Interstate 25, take exit 192 for Ridgegate Parkway. Follow the parkway through two traffic circles, turn left on Crooked Stick Trail and continue to park at 10099 Crooked Stick Trail, Lone Tree, 80124.

FYI: Multi-use trail. Dogs on leash, and pick up poop. Picnic pavilion at parking lot.

Seth is a features writer at The Gazette, covering the outdoors and the people and places that make Colorado colorful.

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