While writing his next guide to Colorado’s outdoors, Stewart Green heard the naysayers.
“I did get a bunch of crap from a few people,” says the Colorado Springs native with a bibliography spanning the better part of 40 years. “‘Oh, you’re giving away all this information, and all the trails are gonna be trampled, and there’s gonna be too many people. Why are you giving away all our secrets in the state?'”
To which Green had a ready response: “There’s no place in the book that’s a secret, hidden place that nobody knows about. That just doesn’t exist anymore.”
The book “Hiking Colorado’s Hidden Gems” is an appreciation of 40 trails that Green deems under-appreciated from a lifetime of hoofing the nooks and crannies of his beloved state. “Underdog landscapes,” he calls them, with trails short and long, easy and hard across all four corners.
Rocky Mountain National Park is no underdog. But perhaps the path to Bluebird Lake could be called that, reached 6-plus miles through remote Wild Basin. “Once you get past Ouzel Falls, you really don’t see many people back there,” Green says.
It’s but one National Park Service-maintained quadrant explored by the book. Readers are also taken to a trail in Mesa Verde National Park — where they otherwise might busy themselves touring the cliff dwellings — and to another in Dinosaur National Monument, popularly visited for its fossil exhibit. Then there’s the national monument closer to Green’s home: Teller County’s Florissant Fossil Beds, with a trail weaving a wide meadow where one might spot more wildlife than people.
Green nods to several state-protected parks, too — more trails “well-maintained and well-signed,” he says.
People more so know Lathrop State Park near Walsenburg for its boating reservoirs, less so for the hike up a hogback to an iconic view of the Spanish Peaks. Green suspects people more so know Littleton’s Roxborough State Park for the red rocks, “but maybe they don’t think about hiking to the highest point of the park” (Carpenter Peak).
There are locally known places on the Western Slope that Green aims to introduce to enthusiasts on the opposite side of the state. Among them are Curecanti National Recreation Area outside Gunnison, Rifle Arch near Rifle and McInnis Canyons National Conservation Area near Fruita.
Among Green’s choices on …….