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Why we love it: We often miss out on the full glories of the night sky because we live in an urban center. Night hiking fixes that.
When to go: At night, of course. Bring a friend and a flashlight to be safe, but on a full moon (the next one is August 1), you’ll have enough light to see your shadow on the trail. Set off about 30 minutes before sunset.
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We spend most of our time hiking, biking, and playing during the day, which means that we miss out on some of Colorado’s best scenery: the night sky. After reading “Star Light, Star Bright” in the July issue, I was inspired to hit the trail a little later than usual to escape the metro area’s light pollution and see the starry sky.
The two-mile Hayden Trail at William Hayden Park on Green Mountain in Lakewood seemed ideal for a newbie night hiker because it was close to the city and gently sloping. I set off alone (although, you should take a friend to be safer) about 30 minutes before sunset. This gave me—and my feet—time to acclimate to the growing darkness and trail conditions.
In truth, the darkness was a bit disquieting. I couldn’t rely on my eyes to tell me when to step around a rock, so my other senses started to pick up the slack. I wasn’t moving as confidently as I do in the day, but I started to acclimate. That’s when I came face-to-face with a deer. I didn’t even notice him until we were feet apart. I yelled, and the deer sped off into the night. What else could be out there? I started to panic, so I decided to sing my best rendition of a song by the Lumineers’ to announce my presence to any other suspicious animals.
When I reached the trail’s peak, I had a full view of the metro’s lights. But I was up high enough that I could also see the stars more clearly. I traced a few constellations in the night sky, took in a breath of the cool night air, and started my descent—with more confidence than I had at the trailhead.
Getting there: Head west on Route 6 towards Lakewood. Take the Simms Street exit and continue onto Union Boulevard. Drive about one mile, then take a right onto West Alameda Parkway. Continue for about two miles and arrive at the Utah Trailhead (on your right).
—Image courtesy of Shutterstock