By Randy Winter
There were lots of smiles all around at the grand opening of the Grindstone Quarry Trail at Heil Valley Ranch on October 9th. This is a 1.4 mile pedestrian/equestrian only trail beautifully winding it’s way up the east side of Geer Canyon Road. In addition, there are four horse trailer parking spaces at the new Corral Trailhead ready and waiting to be used. The Corral Trailhead is just a few tenths of a mile after you turn off Lefthand Canyon Road.
My wife, Cheryl, and I checked out the trail last Sunday. The weather was perfect. Bright sunshine, cool temperature and a slight breeze at times. Saddling up, our horses were aware of the Sunday commotion of others preparing to enjoy the day as we were. We could see eyes looking our way with smiles and as Ranger Kevin Bradley passed by he shouted a “glad to see equestrians out here” greeting.
The horses with their growing winter coats approached the trail with eagerness and ears pricked forward. A few well configured steps going down and up, across a dry creek bed quickly diverted our horses attention to the trail and the task ahead. We continued up a path well constructed with switchbacks supported by quarried layers of rock. Thanks to all those who volunteered and were part of the County work crew to create such a welcoming trail. A few bluebird boxes could be seen waiting for occupants next spring.
Families with children were the major obstacle along the trail as we couldn’t pass without offering wide eyed youngsters the chance to pet a horse. Twenty-one year old Walker, and 25-year-old Ida were only too happy to oblige. There is an offshoot to the Grindstone Quarry but horses are not allowed on that spur. Guess we’ll have to put our hiking boots on for that portion some day.
Reaching the top most part of the trail we connected to the main trailhead. From there we could access all the trail connections that we are used to when riding Heil Ranch in the past. Our preference was to ride the service road, shortly after a stretch of multi-use trail comes to a fork off the service road where cyclists can turn left and head on up the trail, and horses can continue up the service road.
Along the way we did see one other couple with two trailers and four horses. They were going to their favorite spot to take pictures for this year’s Christmas card— how fun!
It is so wonderful that Boulder County has helped create a safe and scenic trail with equestrians in mind. Now we must do our part and get out there and ride the trail. It’s time for us all to commit to spending time with our four legged and two legged friends on the trail. Hope to see you out there.
For more information please visit: The Heil Valley Ranch Boulder County Open Space
Equestrians please remember to clean up your horse manure at the trailhead as a courtesy to others.