Tribune Print Share Text

Field guide to Wind Crest

Walking group leader creates hiking manual for local trails

Created date

July 26th, 2010
Nestled among the Front Range, Red Rocks, and Highline Canal, Wind Crest s rock-and-stucco buildings stand like another tree grove or mountain range that has always existed in this natural environment. And because of the community s beautiful surroundings, there are miles of trails that Wind Crest residents walk, hike, and bike, taking in the serenity. We have all this beauty right in our backyard, says Jim Murphy, who lives at Wind Crest and co-leads its Walking with Norm Program, a group on campus that meets twice a week. Though about four hard-core members walk both days with the club and on their own other days, the group attracts different people each time. The club takes unique routes every time it meets, and one of the days each week is designated for new residents to get acquainted with the property, which used to be a ranch populated by 22,000 cattle.

Norm s outdoor guide

Independent of the walking program, its founder Norm Fox a veteran hiker of the Colorado countryside developed a guide for walkers and bicyclists laying out the mileage, altitude, and time it will take to walk all of the trails surrounding the Wind Crest campus. The guide can be found in the library on campus. Norm put a lot of effort into making the trails more accessible to the residents of Wind Crest, says Murphy. The hiking guide details trails that range from .5 to 5.4 miles, so any walker, no matter what level of experience, can take advantage of the extensive trail system. The mileage is pretty accurate too, because Fox took a portable GPS (global positioning system) with him as he walked the trails. The amount of time it takes, listed in the guide, is based on a 20-minute-per-mile pace. Not only does he list all this numerical information, but also Fox provides markers and characteristics of the trails. For example, he writes of the Highline Canal at 1.9 miles: It overlooks a pond and view to the Northwest. The pond is usually dried up here, but in the spring, you can enjoy a chorus of bullfrogs singing their croaking best. [caption id="attachment_13163" align="alignright" width="280" caption="Highline Canal trail surrounding Wind Crest is a popular destination for residents on foot. (Photos by Jason Atwell)"][/caption]

Health at your feet

Fox and Murphy can t say enough about the benefits of walking. In the guide, Fox states that it is the greatest exercise in the world, both for the mind and body. Walking is pretty big here, says Murphy, who partakes for many different reasons: for the camaraderie, to help acquaint people with Wind Crest s campus, to think, to see the wildlife, and for the exercise. But walking isn t the only thing Murphy does; he also swims, plays water volleyball, and works out in Wind Crest s on-campus fitness center. Walking, however, has a special place in both gentlemen s hearts. From the trees to the mountains to the wildlife, walking allows a way for them to connect to nature. This place is great, Murphy says of Wind Crest. It s so picturesque; ' it feels like you re in a different world.