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Freshwater Facts and Fun at Lair O’ The Bear-A Denver Metro Network Event

Everyone loves to hike near a creek, stream or flowing river. Hearing the melodic and sometimes hypnotic rush-&-flow of our riparian life-lines certainly revives and refreshes our entire being. But did you know that only 2.5% of all water on earth is freshwater and only 0.6% is readily available for use?  This expedition along the tranquil but active Bear Creek will not only enliven the senses but will be an engaging look at our most precious resource and the issues that surround it. Highlights include about an hour spent picking up trash along a small stretch of the creek and a stop outside one of Colorado’s most notable castles to view its original external water wheel that provides hydroelectric power to the stately establishment to this day. 

Here is a link with a map and directions to the location:

Outing particulars Phase I:

The outing will start at the park information kiosk due south of the parking lot. Once everyone has checked in and has been cleared to begin, a brief overview of the hike and learning objectives will be given (appx. 10 min.). We will then proceed east on the Creekside Trail, pausing on the Ouzel bridge for 10-15 minutes to talk about Bear Creek, the Bear Creek Watershed, and how the water that is passing underneath us will be used or end up in the Gulf of Mexico. Freshwater usage statistics will also be revealed and discussed. From there, we will cross the bridge and take the Bruin Bluff Trail west. A 5 min. water/rest break will be taken appx. 20 min. in where it cuts through a rock formation and provides a great view of the park and Bear Creek below. If there is time, a mention about the history of flooding in the area and tips on weathering a flash flood while hiking will be given. The trail will then loop down to the Castor Cut-Off Trail which will take us back to the beginning of the Bruin Bluff Trail. We will then proceed back to the Creekside Trail and have another planned water/rest break at the new covered rest/picnic area that’s just across the Ouzel Bridge. During this 10-15 min. break, the issue of fracking and other freshwater intensive industrial/energy uses will be discussed. We will also prepare for our next phase of the outing. We will have completed the first phase by 11 a.m.  Total distance and level of difficulty of first phase: Appx. 2.5 miles. Overall moderately challenging.  Begins easy with relatively level elevation on Creekside Trail, then a consistent and considerable elevation gain on Bruin Bluff Trail, which is mostly moderate in difficulty with some challenging spots.  Ends relatively easy on last leg of Bruin Bluff Trail through to Castor Cut-Off Trail and then back onto Creekside Trail and over Ouzel Bridge.

Phase II:

After our break at the covered picnic area, we will take garbage bags and clear trash from the banks of Bear Creek just within 30 yards of either side of the Ouzel Bridge. This will last for no longer than 50 minutes, though we may end sooner if we deem we have done an adequate job. We will place garbage in the receptacles along the Creek; or, if our collection is substantial, we will consolidate as much as we can and take it out with us as we proceed through the next phase.

Phase III:

The final phase of the outing will begin no later than 11:50 a.m. We will hike west on the Creekside Trail, stopping briefly at a deck that sits over the creek. We will pause for about 5 minutes to allow for studying the placards on and around the deck and enjoy the view. We will then either proceed to the parking lot to drop off trash or continue west on Creekside. In either case, we will connect to Bear Creek Trail heading west. We will hike past the Dipper Bridge, which used to connect the Bruin Bluff Trail to Bear Creek and has suffered flood damage recently, and then on till we arrive at the bridge-gate of Dunafon Castle. We will then take a planned 10-15 min. water/rest break and the Outing Leader will give a brief history of the castle and speak about its two water wheels (one visible from the trail) and how they once powered the entire Castle and still power a portion of it today. He will also speak about hydroelectric power in general and its use as a renewable energy source. After the break, we will head back the way we came (east) and end the outing once we reach the parking lot (should be 1 p.m.).  Total distance and level of difficulty of third phase: Appx. 3.1 miles. Easy level of hiking and mostly flat terrain.

People are certainly encouraged to bring a lunch to enjoy at this point of the outing.  Those who would prefer to leave certainly can.

In addition the 10 essentials listed below, please bring work gloves for the cleanup portion.


» Navigation (map and compass)
» Fire (matches or lighters)
» Signaling Device (whistle or mirror)
» Sun Protection (sunglasses and sunblock)
» Insulation (extra clothing)
» Nutrition (extra food)
» Hydration (extra water and/or the means to make more)
» Illumination (flashlight/headlamp)
» First Aid Kit
» Emergency Shelter (trash bag, bivy sack, tent)
» Bonus: Repair Kit including tools

This outing will be co-lead with Colleen Finnerty, but Dave Read is the leader for this outing and the main contact person, so please contact Dave Read if you have any questions or concerns here on Meetup prior to the outing.

***As with all DMN Sierra Club events a $5 donation is recommended but certainly not required.  This money helps the DMN maintain the high quality you have come to expect from our outings.***

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  • Neva

    Great hike interesting presentation and subsequent conversation! Thanks Dave!

    May 25, 2014

  • Colleen

    Thank you Stacy for all of the wonderful pictures; you're the best!

    1 · May 25, 2014

  • Diana B.

    Per Gary he had so much fun and really enjoyed David as a leader.

    May 25, 2014

  • Diana B.

    Gary had so much fun today.

    May 25, 2014

  • Colleen

    This was a fun AND informative outing; thanks Dave!

    May 25, 2014

  • Oralie M.

    I am a little late to sign up, but would love to go if it is still possible. Let me know.

    May 24, 2014

  • Stacy

    Is anyone coming from NE Denver/Thornton area and thinking about carpooling?

    May 24, 2014

  • Diana B.

    Dave, Can't wait. Sounds like a lot of fun. Diana and Gary

    May 3, 2014

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