Flying J Ranch

Round-Trip Length:  3.1 mile loop
Elevation Change:  +379’/-383’
Difficulty: Novice
Trailhead Location:   From US Highway 285 at Aspen Park, take Barkley Road to County Highway 73 north to the park entrance road.

Last Sunday we decided to get out and hike one of Jefferson County Open Space parks that we’ve only hiked once before several years ago.  We were looking for a relatively short hike without much elevation gain.  I looked through my maps and came across the Shadow Pine Loop at Flying J Ranch.  It met all of our criteria:  a short drive from home, only 3 miles in length, and only 379 feet in elevation gain.  So, we got our hiking gear together and were off.  We got to the trailhead and headed out on the trail around 11:45am.

A sign at the trailhead provides some history of the area.Flying J Ranch History

Flying J Ranch encompasses two original homesteads of William Hagen and Ernest Hicks from the late 1800s.  Portions of the two homesteads were sold beginning in 1913.  In 1948, John and Marguerite Schoonhoven purchased the remaining land where they would raise cattle for decades.  Beginning in 1995, Jefferson County Open Space acquired Flying J Ranch property from the De La Castro and Schoonhoven families through multiple transactions.

The start of the Shadow Pine Loop.

Flying J Ranch Trail Sign

We weren’t sure how much snow would be on the trail as we did have a snowstorm in the area earlier in the week.  There were some patches of snow, but the trail was mostly dry.


A short distance down the trail we came to a stream crossing which was iced over but there was a big crack in the ice where we could see the water running underneath.

Flying J Ranch-frozen stream

Flying J Ranch Trail-Frozen stream

The trail goes mostly through thick woods.  A couple of shots along this section of the trail.

Flying J Ranch Trail

Flying J Ranch Trail

Stepping into the woods, it reminded us of Bev Doolittle’s camouflage art paintings. We tried to duplicate with our photography (without a lot of success)!  Here’s a shot – can you find me?

Flying J Ranch-Bob hidden

Here’s a little help in case you couldn’t find me.

Flying J Ranch-Bob hidden identified

We didn’t see a lot of signs of Spring yet, however, we did come across some bright colored moss along the trail.

Flying J Ranch-Moss

A more open area in the trees where we still saw quite a bit of snow.

Flying J Ranch

We were finished with our hike around 1:15pm.  A short hike, but it was good to get out and enjoy part of the day on the trail!

5 thoughts on “Flying J Ranch

  1. I miss hiking in Colorado – and your post is a pleasant reminder of this. There’s something comforting about the smell of pine needles on a warm sunny day. Our eastern woods have their special qualities, but we just don’t have your endless pine forests. We may have to do an exchange program 🙂

    • Thanks for reading my post. I wouldn’t mind doing more hiking in the eastern woods and getting to know them better – maybe an exchange program is a good idea!

  2. The path through the trees reminded me of a walk I took last year with my husband up in the high country of Yosemite. Thanks for following my blog. I finally got around to following you (don’t know what took me so long, it’s great).

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