Bear Creek Park in June

Bear Creek Park in June

Photos taken at Bear Creek Park in Colorado Springs, Jun 10, 2012.

Copyright (c) 2012, Sandra J. Loosemore. Photos are provided for personal viewing only; no other use is permitted without prior written consent.

This county park is a large open space that follows Bear Creek from 8th Street all the way west to the mountains. I'm starting this hike on 8th Street; the road is the back entrance to the Penrose equestrian center. I didn't see any horses on this day, but they do use these trails, and there are fences set up here and there that they use for teaching the horses to jump.

This is a very poor photo of a Bullock's oriole, sitting in a thicket of sumac and gooseberry near the creek. I saw many other kinds of birds in this area, including swallows and meadowlarks in addition to the familiar robins, flycatchers, etc that frequent my garden.

None of my gooseberry photos turned out (the berries were not ripe yet either), but here's a good shot of the 3-leaved sumac.

This looks like a cherry tree, growing in the same area.

This part of the trail is completely flat as it circles around a large meadow. The east side of the park is undeveloped except for the horse jumping stuff, and it's primarily used as a neighborhood open space for jogging, dog-walking, and the like. Farther west, on the other side of 21st Street, there are picnic and recreation areas and a nature center where they hold educational programs, and beyond that the trails continue up into the Section 16 area.

Here's a wild rose, randomly growing in the meadow near the trail.

Opuntia cactus are just starting to bloom in the drier areas away from the creek. These are the bigroot pricklypear species, Opuntia macrorhiza.

More opuntia.

Still more opuntia.

The loop trail starts to climb as you get to the 21st street side of the park. The rocky ridge visible in the middle distance here is part of the Red Rock Canyon park.

There were some silvery lupines growing along the trail here.

I wouldn't recommend trying to botanize in this thicket -- that's a huge patch of poison ivy!

Curiously, there's a small marshy area in the middle of this hillside. I'm not sure if there's a spring, or just a depression that collects runoff. Anyway, there was this big fireweed growing in it.

In a drier area, I spotted this prickly poppy. This is really a spectacular-looking flower 3 or 4 inches across.

Another prickly poppy.

Here's an orange paintbrush, near the top of the hill.

This is a yucca pod. I noticed that almost every yucca in this area was being guarded by a ladybug -- they eat aphids that suck plant juices.

On top of the hill, overlooking the meadow.

I think this is a hairy goldenaster (but there are so many other yellow asters that grow in this area it's hard to be sure....)

Close-up of one of the aster's flowers.

Hmmm, more yellow asters, but different. I think these are probably the kind called "Perky Sue".

Another paintbrush, artfully posed with a yucca and an opuntia pad.

More opuntia growing on top of the hill. I think this one is the "regular" pricklypear, Opuntia polyacantha; the spines are closer together and more uniform than on the ones I saw at the bottom of the hill.

All the opuntia flowers in this area had bright red centers.

More opuntia.

This one definitely looks like a Opuntia polyacantha.

Coming down the other side of the hill, there were also some opuntia flowers with green centers instead of red.

These look like evening primroses, although it was morning....

The trail wanders through the hills heading back towards 8th Street. There's a spur trail that goes over and around the other hill visible here, but I didn't go up that way this time.

This one looks like another bigroot pricklypear.

Same flower from another angle.

Yet another bigroot pricklypear flower.

Here's a close-up of a milkweed flower clump.

Yet another variety of yellow asters. Hmmm, not sure of ID on this one yet.

Here's a closer shot of some of the flowers in that clump.

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