Located just north of Garden of the Gods, Ute Valley Park lacks the crowds, roads and car traffic of The Garden. The 330-acre urban park area in foothills habitat is big enough that you can feel lost without actually getting lost.

From the intersection of Rockrimmon Boulevard and Vindicator Drive, turn right and travel westward for about 1 mile to the Vindicator parking area on the left.

Hike across a boardwalk over a marshy area to a fork in the trail and bear right (your route will return via the fork on the left). After about one-fourth of a mile, keep left at the trail intersections so you are descending south and east down into the quiet valley. After about half a mile at some trail intersections and a signpost, bear left following the BeaUTEiful Loop. After another quarter mile, keep left again at a signpost, following the Black and Blue Loop.

Swing eastward into a section recently added to the park, crossing a large metal bridge into a small scenic canyon known as Hogan’s Run. After about 2 miles, this “trail less traveled” ends at an I-25 frontage road (no parking). Turn around and retrace your steps back across the bridge. Look for a signpost for the BeaUTEiful and Black and Blue Loop and bear right on the Black and Blue Loop to follow a different return route. When you reach a signpost, bear left on the Ute Valley Trail. Follow the wide road/trail northward then bear right on established and social trails so that you climb up the ridge on the east side of the main valley, offering great views of Pikes Peak and the Rampart Range. Once on top of the ridge, head north and west, passing Eagle View Middle School on the right, until you return to the Vindicator parking area after about 1 mile.

Joe LaFleur has lived in southern Colorado 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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