Excerpted from Canine Colorado by Cindy Hirschfeld
Pine Valley Ranch Park
Pine Valley Ranch Park, on 820 acres, has a beautiful, wide-open feel. And though somewhat removed from the madding crowd, it's still a Jefferson County Open Space property. In the middle lies small, scenic Pine Lake, and the North Fork of the South Platte River runs across the park. As a bonus, the park's southern boundary abuts Pike National Forest, where your dog can run leash-free.
To hike along the rushing waters of the South Platte, take the two-mile Narrow Gauge Trail in either direction from the parking area; the trail follows the route used by the Colorado and Southern Railroad in the early part of the century. A very short trail loops around Pine Lake. To head into the national forest, follow the Buck Gulch Trail for one mile to the park boundary; the trail then continues for another 2.2 miles as a Forest Service trail. It's possible to do a long loop (5.3 miles) by combining the Buck Gulch, Skipper, and Strawberry Jack Trails; note that these are also popular mountain-biking trails.
Castlewood Canyon State Park
Castlewood Canyon seems something of an anomaly a small canyon set near the edge of the eastern plains. The park provides a nice alternative to a mountain hike; you and your dog will be surrounded by farmland yet can still view the peaks of the Front Range in the distance, including Pikes Peak. A pleasant, short hike (about two miles) combines the Lake Gulch and Inner Canyon Trails.
Rules and Regulations
Within the city and county of Denver, as well as in surrounding towns in the Denver metro area, dogs must be leashed when not on private property. Resident dogs must be vaccinated annually against rabies once they reach six months, and dogs are required to wear a city license tag within 30 days of moving to the city.
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Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication