Coyote Gulch loop, Bear Creek Park

Trails web Bear Creek Park, criss-crossing scrubby hills backdropped by Colorado Springs’ southwest mountains. Regular runners and mountain bikers have their favorite routes, while newcomers often wonder where to begin.

How about at the park’s nature center?

This is especially suited for families, a place of education for little ones, with displays inside and outside celebrating life big and small across this ecosystem. Adults, too, might gain an appreciation for this preserve near the heart of the city. All can engage the senses and tap into serenity on this short loop.

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From the nature center’s pavilion, follow the short sidewalk down to two bridges. Take the one trending south, with dirt on the other side rather than concrete.

It’s a soothing stretch following the creek under the shade of cottonwoods. At the split to the left, stay straight, following the path as it ascends wooden steps above the canopy. Butterflies dance and birds sing in the meadow that meets the sky, with views of the eastern plains and adjacent hogback ridge and canyon promontories.

Our mile tracker read 0.4 at the next junction, where we hung right to continue the Coyote Gulch loop. At the next “Y,” proceed left.

The thin trail dips into an intimate fold of the landscape, narrow between hillsides and oak stands. At about a mile, it comes to the Songbird Trail “T.” Left returns to the nature center, where you might stop for a brief series of signs about the area’s flora and fauna.

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Trip log: 1.45 miles round trip (loop), 183 feet elevation gain

Difficulty: Easy

Getting there: Bear Creek Nature Center at 245 Bear Creek Road. From Interstate 25, exit for U.S. 24, driving about 2 miles to the left (south) turn for 26th Street. At stop sign at Gold Camp Road, go straight. Nature center will be on the left.

FYI: Portions of loop for hikers only and no dogs. Bikes, horses and dogs allowed on regional trail from nature center. Park open 5 a.m.-9 p.m.

SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE

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