Both Sandy and I volunteer our spare time at our local state park. It is about 10 minutes away from our house and we see its landmark rock formation, Lions Head, daily from our living room windows. Since my retirement I have also been fortunate enough to be employed at the park during the summer months as a seasonal park ranger. It is a great job with fantastic co-workers and 2013 will mark my 4th summer season at Staunton.
Not many folks have heard of Staunton, as it has been under development for many years. The original Staunton Ranch, comprised 1,720 acres which was donated to Colorado by Francis Staunton to be used as a state park to showcase its natural splendor. Since 1986 the state has completed fire mitigation, protected historic structures, studied its varied plant and animal life and acquired additional lands around the ranch increasing its overall size to 3,800 acres. Many people who have been lucky enough to observe the park have called it, “Colorado’s mini-Yosemite.” Waterfalls, unbelievable rock outcroppings, trout filled streams, ponds, abundant wildlife and fantastic vistas all await future park guests. The park will officially open to the public on May 18, 2013.
Today, I volunteered for several hours fixing some historic fence lines along the county road leading to the park’s entrance. After this project was completed I had the opportunity to hike one of the most picturesque trails in the park, called “Scout Line.”
Scout Line trail runs from Black Mountain Creek up the side of a mountain and provides beautiful overlooks to the south and west. One can see all the way south to Pikes Peak and west to snow capped Mt. Rosalie and Mt. Evans. My job on this hike was to scout out any hazard trees which I will remove prior to the opening of the park. The hike was made more difficult with the 1-2 foot snow drifts present.
While hiking the entire trail I noticed several locations with obvious mountain lion signs, including evidence of a recent kill and the dragging of an animal, likely a deer, through the snow. I also noticed bear tracks which is about right with their coming out of hibernation at this time every year.
After completing my survey I returned to the trailhead with 3.0 miles of hard hiking trail behind me.
Love Colorado and Staunton State Park!