Doc Howard Trail System


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I want to write this trail system from a point of being knowledgeable. Unfortunately on this post I’m not. I may provide more information as time goes on.

The trail system I’m talking about here is a loop of trails with rough terrain around a set of cliff’s above Clear Creek. It’s popular with rock climbers who use it to reach many different climbing routes. As someone who’d need to save up for climbing equipment I know these trails on foot as a route for exploring the sandstone and shale cliffs and looking down from their bluffs.

Even if you don’t plan to climb, the route’s not for beginners. There are many steep hills, scrambles over rocks and even places where sliding may be easier than walking. But I consider the trail to be worth it, and these pictures should show you why.

The cedar in that image is possibly an ancient one according to Dad. I say possibly, because even Dad was going from a third-hand description of someone else’s study.

Since it was Father’s Day, Dad chose this hike for Mom, Jessie Yvonne and me. Yvonne struggled to walk the trail, having to figure out how to scramble across the rocks, as opposed to me and Dad who do it intuitively and prefer to avoid tripping by keeping momentum.

Dad and I, however, ended up in the back with Yvonne, however, because for Dad, an expert on plants for people new to this blog, these kinds of cliff habitats are places to scan with his hazel eyes beneath his nearly hairless eyebrows for plants.

Among them was the round leafed fire pink, so called not because it is pink (it’s really more red) but because it appears to be “pinked” by shears.

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Dad, being scientifically minded, always wants to focus on new spots and mysteries. He found himself curious about a grape vine growing close to the cliffs’ bottom.

We also discovered a small box turtle, with foot and head just slightly tucked into shell.

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We passed many climbers, hanging from these cliffs too. There are many routes. Also the trail system links to a brewery called The Lily Pad. We didn’t visit this go around, but as I get more confident with public spaces, I’ll probably review it at some point.

The heat was a bit much, especially for us wearing masks, which Jessie, my sister insisted on (I usually skip them when it’s just me and Yvonne but I understand the issues with the huge crowd of us).

By the time we were done, we were hungry and thirsty, hoping to park all three of our separate cars (don’t you love quarantine life?) down by Clear Creek Lilly Bridge. But with too few spaces there, we had to move up to the Lilly Bluff picnic area, then have some of us drive, some of us walk down to the river.

And what a river it is! It’s clear so you can see all the fish of different sizes, glimmering in the water. Our preferred spot is a slanting rock we can slide down. I’ve written about it before.

I say “our” but really it’s just me, Jessie, Mom and Yvonne that enjoy the water. Dad tends to always stay on the land, looking at plants whenever we visit. That’s where he finds the joy of discovery.

For me, discovery is broader. Anything new to me, be it a fish, a possibly old cedar or especially a new trail system is worth a new trip out. I’m ready to explore. And I hope to keep doing so.

If you have any more information about these trails or links to sites about them I’d like to see them. I may post more updates as I get more research done on this area.

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