Hiking with the Devil in Colorado

The Devil's Backbone. The name conjures up an interesting visual image. The reality is an interesting trail in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.

Located north of Denver and just west of Loveland, Colorado, Devil's Backbone Open Space is 2,100 acres of grassland and rolling hills, bisected by towering rock formations that run in a basically straight line for 12 miles. Hiking and biking trails follow the rock line in a north and south direction. A few loops diverge from the main trail to take in interesting sites along the way. One of these is The Keyhole. This is a spot where the lower rock had fallen away creating an arch-like opening in the rock wall. It also provides some well appreciated shade along the very sunny path.

Standing in the Keyhole and looking west the hiker can see several neighborhoods. There are also some large ranch style homes in view to the east. The Open Space is not a wilderness area, rather it is an area that has been set aside from development to allow people to take in the natural beauty of central Colorado.

The various sections of the trail range from easy to moderate, but shade is minimal and it can be very hot and dry. However, water is available at the trail heads. It's also good to remember that this is a mountain environment, so the air is a little thinner and sudden showers coming in off the mountains are always a possibility.

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