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Reviews > Books > Trail Guides > Southern Front Range Trail Guide > Owner Review by Kathleen Waters

SOUTHERN FRONT RANGE TRAIL GUIDE
BY KATHLEEN WATERS
JULY 19, 2012

OWNER REVIEW

TESTER INFORMATION

NAME: Kathleen Waters
EMAIL: kathy at backpackgeartest dot com
AGE: 61
LOCATION: Canon City, Colorado, USA
GENDER: F
HEIGHT: 5' 4" (1.60 m)
WEIGHT: 125 lb (56.70 kg)

Living in Colorado and being self-employed, I have ample opportunities to backpack. There are over 700,000 acres/280,000 hectares of public land bordering my 71-acre/29-hectare "backyard" in addition to all the other gorgeous locations which abound in Colorado. Over the past 15 years, my husband John and I have also had the good fortune to hike/snowshoe glaciers, rain forests, mountains and deserts in exotic locations, including New Zealand, Iceland, Costa Rica, Slovenia and Death Valley. My hiking style is comfortable, aiming for lightweight. I use a tent (rainfly if needed). Current pack averages 25 lb (11 kg) excluding food and water.

PRODUCT INFORMATION

Author: Nadia N. Brelje, Text and Photography
Publisher: Master Printers -Caņon City Colorado; 2nd edition (2003)

ISBN-10: 0974024910
ISBN-13: 978-0974024912 :

Paperback: 190 pages, including appendix and index
Measured Weight: 10.5 oz (298 g)
MSRP: N/A
Cover of book

PRODUCT DESCRIPTION

"Southern Front Range Trail Guide - Trails Within 50 miles of Pueblo, Colorado" is a self-published and self-distributed book by Nadia N. Brelje. It features 49 trails which total over 225 miles (362 km) in the southern Colorado cities/areas of Beulah, Canon City, Colorado Springs, Florence, Ophir Creek, Bigelow Divide (Fairview), Penrose, Pueblo, Rye, San Isabel, Walsenburg and Wetmore. Time-wise the trails range from short 30-minute hikes, to all-day (and multi-day) treks. According to the author there are trails suitable for everyone, young, old, physically fit and "the couch potato".

The trail guide also offers trail history, geology and other features to be noted on each trail as well as tips for better outings, equipment lists and additional sources for information.

There are numerous pictures taken by the author, including some color photos and there are topo maps for each trail.

The guide measures 8.3 in (21 cm) by 5.5 in (13.5 cm) and is 0.5 inch (1.3 cm) thick.

FIELD USE AND PERFORMANCE

I bought this book when I first moved to Canon City, Colorado in the fall of 2007. Since one of the biggest reasons my husband John and I moved to Colorado from Michigan is to enjoy the outdoor lifestyle and the beauty of the area, we are bound and determined to see it all and what better place to start than in our own "backyard". I was very excited to find the "Southern Front Range Trail Guide" which would become the basis of my "pail list" (dreams not quite big enough for a "bucket list"!). Our goal is to hike each and every trail in this guide and while life does seem to get in the way of plans, we are working on it! Some of the trails detailed in this guide that we've hiked include: the Newlin Creek Trail, Fremont Peak Trail, Sand Gulch Trails, Shelf Road Trail, and the Gallery and Banks Trail.
View from Fremont Peak Trail
A Southern View from Fremont Peak Trail
John on Fremont Peak Trail
John on Fremont Peak Trail

Regions covered (number of hikes described):
Beulah Area - Pueblo Mountain Park Area (11)
Canon City Area - Trails from Temple Canyon Road (3)
Canon City Area - Trails from Oak Creek Grade Road (5)
Canon City Area - Trails from Fremont County Road #9 (4) + 3 more trails
Colorado Springs Area - Trails from Gold Camp Road/High Drive Area (3) + 4 more trails
Florence - Newlin Creek Trail
Ophir Creek - Bigelow Divide (Fairview) Area - Trails from Ditch Creek Road (5)
Penrose Area - Trails from Upper Beaver Creek Road (3) + 2 more trails
Pueblo Area - Pueblo Reservoir Trails (3) + 7 more
Rye Area - 4 trails
San Isabel Area - 7 trails
Walsenburg Area - 2 trails
Wetmore Area - 3 trails

Layout

For each of the 50 trails, the author provides first a short description - just a sentence or two - then lists the following information: Elevation Gain/Loss, Elevation (highest & lowest), Miles (roundtrip), Difficulty Rating, USGS Topo Map Name, Users and Road Directions (to the trailhead). After the basic facts are presented, the author then details the trail very specifically.

Elevation gain is carefully clarified in the "About this Guide" section at the very start of the book. According the author, the listed gain may not be simply the difference between the highest and lowest elevation of the trail. Some trails have significant downhill portions that have to be regained. Those upward treks are added to the "gain" figures. I found this to be very helpful as a trail may initially look "easy" with a just small rise to the highest elevation, but in-between the trailhead and trail's end, there may be many exhausting climbs in and out of ravines and canyons.

In the "About this Guide" introduction to the book, the author also explains that the "Rating" is subjective and based on both the elevation gain and the distance of the trail. Trail ratings range from "easy" to "very difficult" with a very high number of "easy" trails listed. The author reminds that individual physical fitness is also a factor to be considered and from my own experience, I know this to be oh-so-true! When I first moved from the flat lands of Michigan to the higher elevation of Canon City, I would get winded walking my driveway! Now, when I see "moderately difficult" and "difficult", I don't hurriedly turn the page.

Since all of these trails are within a short drive from Colorado Springs and Pueblo, medium-size cities, I particularly am grateful for the "Users" designation for each trail. Some of these trails are heavily used and "Users" can include hikers, bikers, horses, motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. Unless the weather has rendered the trails not conducive, I instantly rule out trails that allow motorized vehicles. And, if a guy on wheels comes whizzing by yelling "left", there is no surprise. I was forewarned.

Road directions are an important part of any guide book. If I can't find the trailhead to that fascinating ghost town, all the pretty pictures and trail "lefts" and "rights" are useless. In this guide, the author takes great pains to thoroughly and accurately steer me to my desired destination. I found the mileage stated to be a good approximation and landmarks to be relatively reliable - there are some variations due to the fact that the book is almost 10 years old. As of yet, I've never gotten lost though.

Of course, the "meat" of this (and any other) guide book is in the trail descriptions themselves. The author weaves local history, some geology, and flora and fauna facts into her directional facts to entertain and enlighten as well as get me to where I want to go. This makes for very pleasant reading and I've learned a lot about my adopted home in the process of playing in the outdoors. I find this style of writing way more palatable then a dry text-book sort of "go left, and then go right at the fork". Even our 11-year-old granddaughter likes to read about where we are going and what we can expect to see. Again, as with my comments above about the accuracy of the road directions, after using the guide on several hikes and backpacking trips, I have complete trust in the guide's stats and can relax and enjoy the hike, not worrying about if and when I'll arrive at my destination.

STARRING ATTRACTIONS

1.) Great selections of trails in my locale.
2.) Clear directions that are easily followed.
3.) Small enough to be carried in my backpack.

Minor Distractions

1.) For me, the maps are pretty much useless because of the small size.

SUMMARY

The Southern Front Range Trail Guide is a very handy book and is front and center on my outdoor/travel book shelf. It is the first book I grab when needing an impromptu day or overnight hike as well as planning more organized extended family outing. As a matter of fact, John and I are in the process of planning a 2-night backpack with our granddaughter in 3 weeks and the Tanner, Stultz and Highline trails are figuring into our strategy to keep our little person busy! Plus this guide keeps me interested in my local area instead of pining for Everest base camp! :)

The guide is starting to look a bit tattered and worn and at some point I'll have to replace it. It would be nice if another, more updated, edition were published though. (hint, hint...)

Kathleen (Kathy) Waters

This report was created with the BackpackGearTest.org Report Writer Version 1.5 Copyright 2012. All rights reserved.
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