At Kane Ranch Open Space, the silence immediately struck. Only songs of meadowlarks. They fluttered between a brief stand of cottonwoods, over a dry creek here on the prairie that seemed much farther than 4 miles east of Fountain.

Up the wide trail, you might be surprised again — this time by the views.

This was a clear day, blue sky against the snow-shimmering Sangre de Cristo peaks. The twin Spanish Peaks loomed far south. Closer to Pueblo was Greenhorn Mountain. Far north was Mount Herman. And in between: a stately Pikes Peak between its other recognizable neighbors.

We contemplated the remote valleys of those high reaches while finding ourselves in a place that also felt isolated. It wasn’t really; adjacent to the parking lot is an active farm. Cars roamed the road to Fountain. Amazing how quickly that town’s booming neighborhoods suddenly disappeared.

This was our welcome to El Paso County’s new open space, intended for that growing population.

It’s intended for hikers and runners and anyone preferring two wheels, but county officials have stated their primary aim to entice equestrians. A sole, wide trail is fittingly called Lariat Trail, shaped like a lasso.

The path stems almost 3 miles straight to a short loop covering the highest, southern-most portion of the open space.

Early on the trail we passed a sign warning of rattlesnakes. They’re known to rest by cactus and prairie dog holes.

Just another reminder that wild elements aren’t reserved for those far-off mountains. Also to contend with here: harsh winds and sun.

Trip log: 3.6 miles out and back

Getting there: Located at 12791 Squirrel Creek Road. Going south on Interstate 25, take exit 132A to merge onto Mesa Ridge Parkway. Continue about 2 miles and turn right onto Fountain Mesa Road. In a mile, turn left onto C & S Road, then in another mile right onto Link Road, then in another mile left onto Squirrel Creek Road. In 4 miles, Kane Ranch will be marked on the right.

FYI: 5 a.m.-9 p.m. April-October; 6 a.m.-6 p.m. November-March. Dogs on leash. Non-motorized trail. No camping, smoking or open flames.

SETH BOSTER, THE GAZETTE

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