The Coolest Trails
July brings warm days, so here are two trails to explore that offer shade or are near waterways.
Butterfly Woods Natural Area- Park/begin at Lions Open Space and walk or ride east along the flat, paved Poudre Trail. You'll travel over a much-loved shady and scenic bridge that follows the river downstream for about a 1/4 mile. At Butterfly Woods you'll see a cottonwood forest along the river and an upland meadow along the paved trail. The meadow is open and sunny (which means it can be hot). Consider the contrast to the shady bridge area and appreciate the challenges that prairie plants have adapted to thrive upon. You might also notice there is gravel mining nearby- a reminder that the river deposited cobbles in a wide swath in it's past meanderings. Head back to Lions Open Space from Butterfly Woods for about a 1 mile round trip or continue east on the Poudre Trail- you can go over 10 miles further!
Riverbend Ponds Natural Area- With 7 ponds and a stretch of the Poudre River, there is lots of water at Riverbend Ponds! Its a nice place for boating (non-motorized), fishing and walking. There are about 3 miles of flat soft-surface trail. Check out the northeast trail (near the Cherly Street entrance) for a boardwalk that goes through a sea of cattails, or the floating bridge between the northwestern ponds (near the Timberline/Cairnes Street entrance)- both are fun destinations. If you'd like even more trail mileage, use the underpass under Prospect Street (east of the Prospect Street parking lot) that leads to Cottonwood Hollow and Running Deer natural areas (hikers only and no dogs at these sites).
Free Activities Coming Soon to a Natural Area Near You
Nature Nuggets—Fun Frogs & Terrific Turtles Thursday, July 11, 10-11 a.m., Magpie Meander Natural Area, meet at Soft Gold Park parking lot. Bring your little ones (ages 3-7 years) to learn about nature with stories and hands-on activities. Parents/guardians must be present at all times. Free, no registration required, but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at naturetracker.fcgov.com. Daycare centers and other groups should schedule a separate time.
Plant Adaptations—Finding Water in the Foothills, Saturday, July 13, 9 a.m.-noon, Reservoir Ridge Natural Area, meet at parking lot at the end of Michaud Lane. Discover the plants that grow from the shortgrass prairie to the foothills. Learn about adaptations that help plants survive. Bring water, snacks, and sunscreen. 3 miles, easy. Free, no registration required, but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at naturetracker.fcgov.com.
Soapstone Surprise, Monday, July 15, 9-10:30 a.m., Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, meet at the north parking lot. Discover the amazing archaeological and natural secrets of this special place. Hike with a naturalist after the program if desired. Bring water to drink and snacks. Free, no registration required, but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at naturetracker.fcgov.com.
Nature Nuggets—Fun Frogs & Terrific Turtles, Thursday, July 18, 10-11 a.m., Magpie Meander Natural Area, meet at Soft Gold Park parking lot. See description above, repeat of 7/11 program.
Natural Area Family Night Walk, Saturday, July 20, 7:30-9:30 p.m., location given at time of registration. Enjoy a short walk in the moonlight with interactive activities and stories related to nocturnal animals and night senses. Dress warmly, bring water. 1 mile or less, easy. Free, REGISTRATION REQUIRED at naturetracker.fcgov.com. For information, call 970-416-2815.
Loren Eiseley and the Ghosts of Lindenmeier, Sunday, July 21, 10-11 a.m., Soapstone Prairie Natural Area, meet at north parking lot. Learn about the scientist/artist who helped excavate this famous archaeological site in the 1930s. ½ mile paved trail, easy. Free, no registration required, but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at naturetracker.fcgov.com.
Wade The River
Discover what lives beneath the surface of the Cache la Poudre River!
Saturday July 27, 1- 4 p.m. Follow the signs from Lee Martinez Park (600 N. Sherwood Street, lower parking lot by the tennis courts).
Biologists will be on hand to identify your finds. Fishes, insects, larvae, algae and more are all easily seen with field microscopes. Bring your own towels, wear closed-toe shoes that can get wet and sun and mosquito protection. All equipment provided. Free, no registration required but you can get a reminder and updates by signing up at naturetracker.fcgov.com