Running free at Elk Meadow, aka Dog Heaven

Saturday was a beautiful day -- one of those bluebird shiners that makes Colorado feel like the center of the universe. And nowhere was that more evident than Elk Meadow, home to a kick-ass local hike and an equally solid dog park.

The wife, sister and I loaded up the car with two dogs, Sierra and Mason, and sped up the mountain toward the Jeffco Open Space park. Elk Meadow has arguably the best damned dog park in the entire Denver area, which boasts a huge off-leash area with both a fenced-in section and a large unfenced, off-leash area for your furry friends.

The rest of the park's trails -- 13.1 miles all in all -- are tremendous, meadows and pine forests, good steep ascents and some decent descents for mountain bikers, too. The trails are also wide enough that mountain bikers can pass you without ripping off your leg. Always a good thing.

Getting There From I-70, exit onto Highway 74 (Exit 252) going south past Bergen Park. Continue 2.25 miles to Lewis Ridge Road turning right into the parking lot. A second access is available at Highway 74 and Stagecoach Boulevard, turn west on Stagecoach and proceed 1.25 miles to the south parking lot.

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