Distance: 4.2 miles round-trip
It feels strange to call a trail itself pretty, but Grindstone Quarry Trail (which starts across the street from the Corral trailhead parking lot, the first you’ll encounter upon entering the ranch) sure is a looker. Its gentle switchbacks are buffeted by stone edges, forming a sort of natural railing, and the dirt path gently flows across a ponderosa pine–dotted hillside, providing welcome breaks from the sun. Short stone-lined sections are as carefully laid as a well-landscaped backyard. Grindstone Quarry is one of two bike-free trails in the 6,231-acre ranch’s network; it connects to the other, Lichen Loop, after 1.4 miles. At the junction, follow the signs to the right to tack on the 1.3-mile oval path and make a lollipop loop out of your excursion. Lichen isn’t as tidy as its sister—pay attention to rocks and roots that can trip you up—but, as interpretive signs will explain, you’re walking on history. Heil Valley Ranch comprises 100-million-year-old Dakota sandstone, even older Lyons sandstone, and muddy sandstone and limestone from the Ancestral Rockies.
Who Will Love This Trail: Families; those looking for a tranquil spot to stretch their legs; trail runners
Don’t Miss This Along The Way: If you walk Lichen counterclockwise, near the end of the loop you’ll come upon a side path to a century-old beehive kiln used by some of the area’s original settlers.