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Book Review by Robin Widmar

“Easy Hikes to the Hidden Past”

It is no secret that the pandemic has driven many people outdoors for socially distanced recreation. Multiple news outlets report that the number of visitors to Coloradoís state parks increased more than 20 percent in 2020. As spring begins to overtake winter, even more people may be inspired to take to the trails. ìEasy Hikes to the Hidden Pastî offers ideas for those seeking new places to explore while providing historical perspective on some of our areaís outdoor gems.Co-authors Rocky Shockley and T. Duren Jones are avid hikers who have combined their experience and knowledge into a guidebook that should interest hikers and history buffs alike. Each chapter describes a different trail or area, including points of interest, history, maps and more. Not all of the sites are well-known, which is sort of the intent. As the authors note, ìMany of the explorations we offer in this book will take you to isolated, serene, get-away-from-the-crowds experiences.îThe bookís 20 chapters are grouped into four loose geographic categories that span the Pikes Peak region. Most of the chapters in the book have an inset that indicates each trailís distance, elevation gain and difficulty (shown as one to five trees, with one being easiest), so there should not be any surprises. The majority of the trails are rated at one or two trees, denoting ìeasy hikes,î and a few are rated at three trees. However, in ìAbove the Inclineî (referring to the very demanding Mount Manitou Incline), the authors say, ìThis adventure isnít about the Incline, but what can be found above it.î Rated at five trees (with an exclamation point!), this hike is probably best left to experienced and fit hikers.Not all of the chapters describe actual hiking trails, though. ìOld Stage Roadî is subtitled ìA driving exploration in a hiking book.î The authors explain that hiking and biking is discouraged on this road because of traffic and a steep, narrow grade. Nonetheless, they highlight a number of sites worth seeing by motorized vehicle. ìAbove the Zooî combines hiking and driving up to the Will Rogers Shrine of the Sun. ìRuxton Avenueî wanders through the heart of Manitou Springs and visits the penny arcade.One chapter that should interest Falcon and Peyton residents is ìPikes Peak Ocean to Ocean Highway,î which discusses the history behind the east-west road now known as U.S. Highway 24. Instead of hiking the 10-mile trail that parallels the highway, the authors recommend biking the trail, which is better known to locals as the Rock Island Trail.While some hiking guides can run a little on the dry side, this is not one of them. Shockley and Jones share their tales in a conversational manner. Local history and lore combine with personal reflections to add richness to the story of each trail or landmark. Photos and illustrations capture places, people and things from the past that have been lost to time. The overall effect is like having your own personal tour guide in an easy-to-carry book.In addition to stories about notable places in the Pikes Peak Region, the authors provide tips for hikers, such as essential items to include in a ìresponsibleî daypack, trail rules and etiquette, and even insights into how to fully enjoy a hike. Whether readers are casual hikers or hard-core outdoor enthusiasts, newcomers or longtime residents, they should find ìEasy Hikes to the Hidden Pastî to be an informative and interesting book about this place we call home.

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