The Goshawk Ridge Trail between Doudy Draw and Eldorado Canyon State Park is so new that it’s not finished. But that didn’t stop me from squeezing in a three hour hike there yesterday between a potluck lunch/program of the “55+ Plus Group” at the Unitarian Universalist Church and an evening meeting of the Colorado Nature Camera Club.
The previous day I had tried and failed to find the trailhead, which according to the Boulder Open Space overlay on Google Earth is at the end of the North Spring Brook trail, where I had hiked a few days ago. Yesterday I realized that the reason why I failed was because the trailhead doesn’t exist yet.
I really wanted to find this trail, because the goshawk is important to my family’s heritage. This large raptor gave its name to the Portuguese islands where my father’s parents were born. The Portuguese word for a goshawk is açor, and what we call the Azores in English are the Açores in Portuguese.
Since the Goshawk Ridge Trail is a loop, yesterday I approached it from the other end where it takes off from the Fowler Trail. The day was too beautiful to stay inside. The weather was still and sunny and 40 degrees, warm for a January day here.
While the trail still lacks any signs, I found it with the help of the Google Earth overlay. Two to four inches of snow covered the entire trail, but I had confidence that I was going someplace by following a set of boot prints, which I welcomed. Likewise, I welcomed the fact that I had the trail entirely to myself as I hiked it.
Goshawk Ridge Trail rises and falls gently through a lovely open forest, just the sort of terrain that the secretive forest bird from which it takes its name prefers. Forests are beautiful to me, but seldom offer vistas that are open enough for photographs. However, on the Fowler Trail just before I found the Goshawk Ridge Trail, this view of Eldorado Canyon presented itself to me:
Near sunset I reached the end of the Goshawk Trail — and discovered why I had missed the trailhead at that end. It doesn’t exist yet. The trail will cross a spillway owned by the Denver water department, and it would have been a steep and perhaps dangerous descent into the spillway to get across to the Denver Water Road on the other side. In addition, a sign clearly says, “No Trespassing — Positively No Dogs or People in Spillway.” That was the missing trailhead!
The previous day I had walked another half mile up the Denver Water Road looking for the missing trailhead and found a bridge across the spillway. Remembering it yesterday, I hiked cross country along the spillway until I could safely cross at the bridge.
Eventually, the trailhead will have its own bridge across the spillway. In fact, I finally reached the trails supervisor by cellphone after I crossed the spillway. He told me, “The bridge is on the property already.” Just as I was talking to him on the phone, I came to the bridge, where it isn’t doing much good yet:
The great hike through snow and forest made up for the missing bridge yesterday. And while I didn’t see any goshawks in the forest, it turns out that the Azores don’t have any either. What the original discovers thought were goshawks (açores in Portuguese) were actually buzzards, a related raptor.
However, we can still see photographs of goshawks. Here’s a beautiful one courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service: