2011 RUNNING & TRAVEL ADVENTURES

 

   
 
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   MORE PHOTOS FROM THE FALCON TRAIL

THURSDAY, JULY 28

 
"The very uprightness of the pines and maples asserts the ancient rectitude 
and vigor of nature. Our lives need the relief of such a background,
where the pine flourishes and the jay still screams."
 
~ Henry David Thoreau
 
 
Jim and I have been out on the 13-mile Falcon Trail loop several times because it is so convenient to our campground and it's just a great course for hiking, running, and cycling. From our current campsite we can reach the trail in about half a mile.

I showed some photos of this loop in the last entry to illustrate the diversity of trail surfaces. I'll include more of the views you can see from the trail on this page.


Overview of part of the campus from one of the ridges

The trail winds through mostly scenic sections of the USAF Academy property (note that almost every square inch of the campus is gorgeous!).

It passes a golf course, the stadium, the cadet area, and other buildings on campus but mostly runs through quiet forests and fields. From the ridges there are great views of Pike's Peak, the Rampart Range, and the city of Colorado Springs.

Above and below:  two views of the golf course from the Falcon Trail

Elevations around the loop range from 6,670 to about 7,500 feet per our GPS.

There are a few fairly flat spots through meadows but most of the trail goes either up or down. A few spots are steep; most grades are gentle, however.


Looking down at the cadet area; the Rampart Range is in the background.

Some sections of the loop are too rugged for us to ride. This is a popular mountain biking course for locals who have more skill and bravado than we do. We've both had our share of nasty bike wrecks so we're not going to tempt fate during this visit by attempting to ride the entire loop, just parts of it.

I'm a little paranoid of kamikaze cyclists when I'm hiking on this trail.

Both Jim and I have learned to avoid it on weekends when the young, local cyclists come out in droves. The cadets who ride the trail on weekdays tend to be much more alert and courteous of fellow trail users.

I have to keep Cody on the leash most of the time on this trail so he doesn't get run over or cause an accident.

The trail is often narrow. It twists and turns and goes up and down. In many places it isn't easy for cyclists to see runners and hikers ahead of them, and too often they don't give adequate warning if they do see someone on foot.

I hate it when cyclists come screaming up from behind and don't say anything until they're almost on top of me. I'd be even more concerned about the cyclists if I was riding a horse:

I've been out on this trail more than Jim since we've been here this time. I like to take Cody out for a walk after breakfast on weekdays before it gets too hot. Jim isn't able to hike but he has ridden sections of the loop on his old and new mountain bikes.

Photos in this entry and the last one are from several different hikes and rides the past ten days.

 

The day I hiked the entire loop, last Friday, I went alone. There isn't much water in the creeks this time of year for Cody to drink, the temperature was predicted to reach 90 F. , and I didn't want to deal with him on the least for several hours.

That day I started from the camper at 6:25 AM and finished 13.7 miles later at 11:25 AM. It was already 85 F. when I got back.

I missed Cody's company that day but enjoyed the solitude on most of the trail. I went CCW because most of the cyclists I've seen on the trail go CW. In five hours I saw only one runner, four hikers, four cyclists, and four equestrians (most or all of the trail is open to horse riders, too). I could see all the bikes coming toward me, which was good.

A couple days ago Jim and I parked on the far side of the loop so I could access my favorite part of the trail (which includes the views in the last three photos above):

Jim rode his new bike from the parking area to the campground, a distance of about ten miles. Part of his route was on the Falcon Trail, part on campus roads.

Cody and I did an out-and-back hike on the trail that included the high point in the foothills of the Rampart Range and a scenic area with rock walls and boulders:

 

The main trail has a steep, very rocky section up and down through those boulders for about a quarter of a mile:

On the way back to the truck I took an alternate horse/bike route I haven't hiked before. It stays low to avoid that difficult section. The trail is narrow and mostly shaded:

I was happy to find water for Cody in two little creeks on that bypass trail:

 

After several rain storms in recent days there was also some water for Cody that day in two other little creeks we crossed; they were dry the day I hiked the whole loop alone.

The only creeks on the entire loop are on the NW side. Keep that in mind if you ever take a dog or horse on this trail, or if you need to treat some drinking water for yourself.

Above and below:  this area on the southeast side of the loop is very dry.

Despite the heat and drought conditions over much of Colorado this summer there are quite a few different kinds of flowers in bloom along the Falcon Trail.

Trees, shrubs, grasses, and flowers look better now than they did when we were here in May. Here are a few of them:

 

 

 

 

We've had several brief but heavy thunderstorms at the Academy since we arrived on the 18th -- typical Colorado summertime "monsoons."

Flooding isn't good but the vegetation and critters appreciate the moisture.

You can see additional photos of the Falcon Loop in the May 30, 2010 entry.

Next entrycolorful photos from Red Rock Canyon trails

Happy trails,

Sue
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil, and Cody the Ultra Lab

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2011 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil

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