Swallow, Coyote & Columbine

Went for a hike yesterday, June 7th, at South Valley Park in Littleton along the Swallow, Coyote Song, Lyons Pass, Columbine and Cathy Johnson trails. Got a much later start than I had planned due to the previous night’s tornado and hail adventure. The park features some of the red sandstone Fountain Formations found in Roxborough State Park. They’re not as large or as numerous as those there, but still pretty cool. Being smaller the swallow nests and the birds’ aerial acrobatics are much more visible.

Total distance: 3.8 mi, Total time: 1:25:52, Moving time: 1:15:20, Avg moving speed: 3.0 mph, Max speed: 4.8 mph, Max elevation: 6153 ft, Min elevation: 5800 ft, Elevation gain: 809 ft.

View South Valley Park Hike in a larger map

The “balloon loop” series of trails I walked took me up and over the Lyons formation “hog back” and into a pretty little valley between it and another hog back. There were still a suprising amount of wild flowers still blooming in the meadows of this little valley. Had the place pretty much to myself, as I saw no one for the whole hike until on my way back when I saw a lone mountain biker.

Besides leaving earlier, I should have planned a little better and taken my rain coat. Five to ten minutes after I left a thunderhead building up along the foothills to the north blotted out the direct sun light. This actually turned out to be a good thing, as it probably cooled off the hike by a good 10 degrees and having left as late as I had it was pretty warm. Things could have gone very differently though, so I should have brought that jacket and my bigger pack just in case.

If I had planned better I would have continued my hike as I had intended to complete walking the Coyote Song and Swallow trails making this a “double balloon loop” hike, two balloons linked by a very small string. However when I got back down off the hog back and contemplated the interesection that would either take me further or back towards the car it started to rain lightly. The rain didn’t concern me, but some tricks the clouds were playing reminded me too much of the previous night, so I turned back the way I had come. Intermittant hail stones fell on my way back to the car, but they were only BB to small marble-sized and fell rarely and without much force. I really could have gone on as I had intended for the shower was brief, and 5 minutes after I got to the parking lot the storm cloud moved off and the sun came out.

All in all it was a really enjoyable hike and I’m glad I got out and took it despite the late start. I’ll go back out with my camera and do the full hike later this year.

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