Hikes explore wonders of the Sanctuary

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The public is invited to explore one of the most pristine expanses of land in Douglas County.

The Sanctuary golf course, an exclusive 18-hole course abutting Daniels Park northwest of Castle Rock, is hosting its second public hiking day April 27. Two hundred lucky residents will have the chance to take both guided and self-guided hikes along the undulating trails that weave through the Sanctuary, which is consistently ranked among the top 100 private golf courses in the nation by Golf Digest.

The "Hike the Sanctuary Golf Course" event is being put on by The Wildlife Experience, a wildlife education and conservation museum founded by Dave Liniger, who built the Sanctuary. He also started real estate giant RE/MAX with his wife, Gail. The Linigers are the only members of the course and play is through invitation only.

The Wildlife Experience tweaked its mission two years ago by adding an outdoor education component.

“We’ve started to expand on the mission to include outdoor adventures like fishing, hiking, GPS scavenger hunts,” said Dan Zimmerer, education manager at the museum. “The thought is, if we’re encouraging people to get outside and hike and camp and do archery and fishing, they will want to protect the wildlife and their habitat.”

Zimmerer described the hike as a unique opportunity to explore a scenic property that is normally closed to the public. The 100 people who participated in the inaugural hike last October were greeted by cloudy skies and cold temperatures, so organizers are hoping for better weather this time around.

Those walking or jogging the entire course are warned to prepare for the 7-mile distance and steep hills, as the highest point reaches more than 7,000 feet in elevation. Shorter hikes are available, and participants can choose to walk the paths on their own. However, Zimmerer recommends having a knowledgeable guide to describe the abundant flora, including lush flower gardens and native vegetation, and fauna, including elk and bear.

When creating the course, the Linigers went to great lengths to ensure as little disruption to the ecosystem as possible, Zimmerer said. Wildlife migration corridors were left intact and the Douglas County open space division has a conservation easement.

“They wanted to create something that enhances the natural environment,” he said.

Slots are expected to fill up quickly and participants must pre-register for the hike. The cost is only $5 for museum members and $7 for non-members. Another hiking event is tentatively planned for October.

The Sanctuary hosts an average of 30 events each summer for nonprofit agencies to have fundraising tournaments. As of last fall, use of the course helped generate more than $68 million for charity since opening in 1997.

To reserve a spot, call 720-488-3344 or visit www.TheWildlifeExperience.org and click on the “education” tab, then select the “adult and family programs” option.

 

Hike the Sanctuary Golf Course - start times

9 a.m.  — Entire course — 7 miles, self-guided only

10 a.m. — 9 holes only — 3.5 miles, guided and self-guided hikes

11 a.m. — 4-hole loop — 2 miles, guided and self-guided hikes