Sunday, February 26, 2012

Westminster Hills Snowshoe

Distance: 3 mile loop
Elevation: 5,500 ft - 5,600 ft
Elevation Gain: 100 ft
Dogs: Off leash (Run baby run!!)
Bathroom at the trailhead: No

Two feet of snow covers the wide expanse of the Westminster Hills Dog Park.  All the pictures in this post were taken blindly (due to sun glare) with the camera on my phone.
Westminster Hills is an open space dog park near the Broomfield Airport.  I take Ginger, the hyper one, there at least 4 days a weeks because she can roam over the entire 400 + acres of prairie while I run the trails.  After the February 2012 dumper (24 inches and counting), the park was transformed into rolling hills of crystalline beauty.  I grabbed a pair of showshoes and left the normal trails to bushwhack in a fit of childish glee.  What is it about breaking the rules that feels so naughty?  As you can sense, I don't allow myself to do that often.

Route taken.  If you zoom in on the map you can see the dotted outline of some of the trails.  They have greatly expanded in the last few years.
The well tracked entrance to the park
Looking south to the southern plateau.  You can sense the snow depth.
Heading south to the top of the southern plateau.  This segment was along an official trail.
On the southern plateau looking southwest towards the hills
The open space consists of a large meadow bordered on either side by plateaus that rise around 100 feet higher than the surrounding area.  A gully travels between the two into a distant and deep field transected by power lines.  You can loop the meadow,  go "up the gut", take either of the plateau routes, head to the "back 40" or any combination of these.  When I run, I can loop around and get in 4 miles.  On this trip I ignored these established routes and tried to find the deepest snow.  The route turned out to be around 3 miles according to the GPS on my phone.

The trail across the southern plateau is around 0.75 miles long.  That is the Boulder Flatirons in the distance.
At the far end of the "Back 40"
Walking along the edge of the northern plateau where the snow was deepest
Heading back down to the trailhead.  The trail "up the gut" is slightly visible on the hillside to the right.
A giant cottonwood borders a small pond that fills with water in the spring.  Water loving dogs romp there with their owners.

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