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Take on the 200-step challenge staircase at Philip S. Miller Park in Castle Rock. —Photograph courtesy of Versatility Creative Group 2014, Copyright Town of Castle Rock

5 Final Summer Adventures

Where to spend the fleeting days before back-to-school.

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The lure of freshly sharpened pencils is strong, but don’t lose your grip on your family’s summer just yet. Between scheduling teacher meet-and-greets and prepping the first day outfit, we’ve picked five last-ditch summer adventures to check out before the kids get back to the books.

Hike: Flying J Ranch Park, Conifer

If your goal is to get the entire family out on a hike without anyone getting bored or left behind, check out the Shadow Pine Loop trailhead at Flying J Ranch Park. Park at the main lot then hike the just less than three-mile loop that is mostly shaded by glorious lodgepole pine trees.

Explore: Philip S. Miller Park, Castle Rock

Plan on spending the whole day at Philip S. Miller Park in Castle Rock, otherwise you won’t get to everything. The 320-acre park offers a 7.4-mile trail system and 200-step incline staircase if your family wants to burn some energy. If you little ones don’t want a trail to guide them, check out the nature-themed splash pad and playground with a 40-foot-long slide. For bigger kids (more than 70 pounds), book an afternoon at the on-site Castle Rock Zip Line Tours.

Take a tumble at Lawson Adventure Park.

Daytrip: Lawson Adventure Park, Clear Creek County

Who doesn’t want to roll down a hill in a giant hamster ball? The Zorb is one of the attractions at the new, 42-acre park just outside of Idaho Springs. Other activities range from a ropes course with a zip line to the Via Ferrata, a rock climbing feature where participants can scramble up a rock face using metal hand holds while connected to a cable. Spring for a full-day pass at $149 or opt for hour-long passes or à la carte tickets.

Listen: Meadow Music, Chautauqua Park, Boulder

Take your kids to a Monday night musical event. The no-cost evening starts at 5:30 p.m. with a short hike up the McClintock Trail. Then families can set out a picnic blanket and enjoy 45 minutes of nature-focused kids music from Jeff Kagan and Paige Doughty (widely known as Jeff and Paige), along with Mark Wesson. There are only three Meadow Music events remaining—August 8, 15, and 22—so take advantage before summer ends.

Swim: Big Soda Lake, Lakewood

Unlike most outdoor activities on the Front Range, lake swimming certainly doesn’t thrive into the fall and winter. So dip you toes in the land-locked sand and surf, or rent a paddleboard, canoe, paddle boat, or kayak for $20 an hour and explore the water.

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