Columbines, fairy trumpets and wild geraniums are just a few wildflowers that can be found blooming throughout Colorado this summer. The state is in full bloom and is home to more than 700 unique wildflowers.
Jefferson County residents don’t need to travel far to see the bloom. The Jeffco Open Space System covers more than 54,000 acres, includes 29 regional parks and boasts a trail system that spans 236 miles. Jeffco Open Space Ranger Shaun Howard suggests Apex Park’s Enchanted Forrest Trail for shade-loving Arnica and the nearby Lookout Mountain Nature Center for a diverse array of flowers on an easy rated trail.
Here are some more tips to get on the trail and see some of the region’s wildflowers.
Great wildflower hikes in Jeffco
East trailhead: 121 Heritage Road, Golden
West trailhead:116 Lookout Mountain Road, Golden
Trail miles: 9.6
About: Enchanted Forest trail has a great display of shade-loving Arnica. The diversity of terrain also provides a fabulous display of various sun-loving flowers and shrubs.
Lookout Mountain Nature Center
Address: 910 Colorow Road, Golden
Trail miles: 1.4 miles within preserve; hiker only
Hours: The Preserve is open daily from 8 a.m. to dusk.
About: The nature center sits on a 134 acre Ponderosa Pine forest. In addition to the building, the preserve offers a half mile hiking loop and a 1.4 mile hiking loop that offers fantastic views of the city and a diverse array of flowers. Additionally, the nature center uses native plants in the landscaping around the building. Hikes on the preserve are great for kids and beginners. However, dogs, bikes and horses are not allowed.
Trailhead: 13577 County Road 97, Conifer
Trail miles: 17
About: This park offers sweeping views and a fantastic flower display. In addition to a diverse flower display, this park is the one of the few parks where one can find a Spurless Columbine. Reynolds park is hiker/equestrian-only on the west side of Foxton Road. Mountain Bikers can enjoy fabulous views and flowers on the 9.3 mile multi-use North Fork Trail, which can be accessed on the east side of Foxton Road.
Meyer Ranch Park
Address: 10508 S. Turkey Creek Road, Morrison
Trail miles: 4.2
About: This park offers hiking opportunities for both beginners and intermediate hikers. The diverse terrain offers plants such as Richardson’s Geranium and Corral Root. This park is also known for an impressive autumn display of Aspens.
White Ranch Park
East access: 5611 Glencoe Valley Road, Golden
West access: 25303 Belcher Hill Road, Golden
Trail miles: 20.6
About: The 5,224 acres and 20.6 miles of trails makes for an excellent day of wildflower hiking. The terrain crosses forests, meadows and drainages which make for a wonderful display of many species. A ranger favorite is Rawhide Trail to Wranglers Run.
Tips for photographing flowers
Get outside: Find a hike or a flower field in the area. If you’re carrying a tripod and DSLR, make sure to watch your hiking distance. If you want the longer hike and epic views, smart phones are a good, light camera choice.
Change perspective: We generally see the world at eye level, so in order to make images that are a little more creative and dynamic, change your perspective. Get up high or down low and shoot at different angles.
Get close: Isolate the flower with a shallow depth of field to make the flower the star of the photo.
Look at the big picture: When photographing wildflowers, it’s easy to focus all your attention on the beautiful flowers and forget the background. But, a good background will help your image by drawing more attention to your subject. A snow-capped mountain or a forrest in the distance gives a good scene without distracting.
Leave no trace:When photographing wildflowers (or anything in nature), it’s important to leave no trace. Be careful not to step on the flowers, or disturb the ground around them (many flowers depend on the soil structure around them).