Thursday, March 12, 2009

Discovering the Cradleboard Trail

I headed back to the Stearn's Lake area yesterday, but rather than going to the lake itself I headed south through the trail system towards Josh's Pond in Broomfield. The last time I visited in mid-February it was overcast, windy and generally poor conditions. This time couldn't have been more different. It was still cool, but there wasn't a cloud in the sky, and the wind had finally relented. Just a beautiful afternoon and evening.

I didn't get to see a Red-tail snacking like last time, but I did have this juvenile keep an eye on me from across a pond.

As I walked I decided to take a trail I had not tried previously, called the Cradleboard Trail. It took me head on into the setting sun, so for a time I really had no idea where I was headed, but could look back at a small creek and quiet a few Prairie Dogs.
Signs warn walkers to stay on the trails to avoid damaging the Critical Wildlife Habitat, and the pamphlet I picked up at the far end mentioned Burrowing Owls using Prairie Dog burrows for nesting. That perked up my interest, but I didn't see any on this visit. There were several nice march sections, and both Prairie Dogs and Cottontail Rabbits were plentiful.

The trail ended at a low usage back road, and I followed that for a bit to loop the wildlife area and cross back into the Broomfield trail system at the east side. The loop I made was just under 3.5 miles, but as the days get longer it could grow to include Josh's Pond and a dip back to pick up Stearn's lake as well.

I just love exploring unknown trails in my own backyard. Walking along a road and wondering if what is hopefully a loop will work out, or if you are in for finishing a hike in the dark on a much longer than expected out and back. Takes me back to my high-school cross-country days, and I must say that I am happy to have traded speed for the extra weight of a camera and bins.

2009 Count: 65
Lifetime: 93

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