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May 20, 2016

Bear Creek Trail
Fees: Free
Website: http://jeffco.us/open-space/parks/
Elevation: 7,600-6,800 feet (we walked downhill)
Distance: 6.5 miles
Hours: daylight

Our weekly hike this Thursday was a one way trek from Pence Park to Lair o’ the Bear Park. I recommend not relying on Google Maps to get to the parking lot of Pence Park. It did lead us on a lovely scenic drive with fabulous views to a private driveway though. After our small detour, we returned to Kittredge and turned on Myer Gulch Road to reach Pence Park.

I thought it was unique that the map posted at the parking lot at Pence Park didn’t include any trails in Pence Park. It included all the trails for O’Fallon Park, Corwina Park and Lair o’ the Bear Park. We followed the multi-use Bear Creek Trail through all the parks for approximately 6.5 miles.

The trail started following close to the road which we didn’t find too exciting, but soon we entered the evergreen forest in O’Fallon Park and got away from the noise. I was expecting a nice, sunny day, but it started out somewhat cloudy and cold. Occasionally, we felt a drop of rain. That was discouraging. Luckily, however, the sun came out. We stripped off our layers and were down to our T-shirts within the first hour of our hike!

While we started at 7,600 feet and ended at 6,800, it seemed like we hiked up and down an undulating trail past lovely views in Corwina Park. More and more wildflowers have been popping up over the month…we even spotted a cactus in bloom! The trail was very popular for mountain bikers. We found ourselves stepping aside somewhat frequently for a Thursday. I can’t imagine what a Saturday would be like. Fortunately, the bikers we courteous, and we all enjoyed the trail!

Upon reaching Lair o’ the Bear Park, we followed a flat path along Bear Creek. Much to our surprise, on the other side of the creek stood a giant castle. This, of course, intrigued us all, so I had to google it today. Dunafon Castle is a residential property that opens for the summer and fall for charity events along with weddings.

The castle was completed in 1941 and was the home of Marcus Wright. It is claimed to be the most complete electrical home ever built as its electricity is generated by its own hydro-electric plant. The 14 room, 4 bath structure constructed of steel reinforced concrete is fire proof too! The light fixtures, made of metal, were specifically created for the home and are considered masterpieces. Its grounds include stocked trout ponds and a fruit and wine cave. This place sounds so interesting that I might have to take a tour! http://www.dunafoncastle.com/index.php

Anyway, the hike, close to Denver in the Jeffco Open Space (http://jeffco.us/open-space/parks/) offered a nice variety, and we had another fun Thursday. ETB

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