Traffic continues its unrelenting course on Interstate 25, as does construction. All the while, just a stone’s throw away, the nostalgic surroundings of Greenland Open Space remain largely untouched by progress, locked in time.
A dirt road leading to the main trailhead goes between old barns. Dogs dash with goats. Horses graze with cattle. A schoolhouse built in 1892 has recently served as a ranger residence. It was once a public place of merriment, a centerpiece of this once-bustling village, along with a general store now honored by the picnic pavilion.
The Denver and Rio Grande Railroad gave life to Greenland, which became an important shipping center. Now it’s a restful retreat for residents along the Douglas and El Paso county borders, a place of simply land and sky.
Races on foot and bike have been held here, on a 10-mile loop trail that tours gentle terrain. Equestrians also find plenty of room to roam.
Visitors can keep it short, perhaps just snagging an hour at the off-leash dog area or the horse obstacle course. Or they can make it a long day on the loop or out to Palmer Lake, where they might connect with the Santa Fe Trail.
That town, spotted in the distance by its familiar red mountain faces, is marked as 5 miles out on the Greenland Trail. The split for the longer Kipps Loop is reached in about a mile.
The trail stretches south toward views of Pikes Peak and Mount Herman. Also in view are the mesas and buttes passed but hardly admired along the interstate. To the near west, on the other side of the train tracks, is Spruce Mountain, a mosaic of forest and bluffs — another gem of Douglas County’s open space portfolio.
Difficulty: Depends on chosen distance. Generally flat, crusher fines and natural surface.
Getting there: 1532 Noe Road, Larkspur. On I-25, take exit 167 and follow road west toward trailhead.
FYI: Hiking, mountain bikes, horses. Dogs on leash on trails. Open one hour before sunrise, one hour after sunset. douglas.co.us.