Dick Nichols District Park is located at 8011 Beckett Road. It has a 1-mile paved loop that makes it great for running, especially if you are looking for an outdoor, “road running” experience without dealing with traffic. The pre-measured loop, which is impossible to get lost on, would also make it a good place to track progress without wearing a GPS watch.
This park also has a pool, tennis and volleyball courts, restrooms, playgrounds, a picnic pavilion, and ample water fountains. Along the flat trail, there are several exercise stations, though the instructional signs are missing from them. Several groups of people were out using the trail this weekday morning but ample parking was still available onsite. This park is very well-maintained, and though you will hear the traffic noise all along the trail, it still feels pretty quiet and wooded once you get back onto the trial.
Dick Nichols District Park
Right across the street, there are more trails to explore in the form of Villages at Western Oaks Hike & Bike Trail System. Unpaved and quite rocky (and muddy right now), this trail is more rugged but still flat and easy to follow. This is not a public park. You can leave your car in the Dick Nichols lot and just cross Beckett to get to the trailhead. There are backyards just beyond the trees on one side of the trail but it’s still a pretty peaceful, natural spot. A faint pine smell added to the wintry feel that this cold day was evoking. There are exercise stations along this trail too. I had the place all to myself.
Just six minutes down the road is Goat Cave Karst Nature Preserve (3900 Deer Lane). A karst is a geologic formation developed as limestone rose and created various openings and underground passageways. Goat Cave is one of three such openings in this preserve; it is fenced off, presumably for safety reasons. There are two other smaller ones that can be easily (and carefully!) viewed from above here, so check them out. These features serve as important wildlife habitats. I am extremely and perhaps irrationally terrified of scorpions, and a drawing of one on the informational sign at the trailhead had me worried I would come upon one so I was treading very carefully and not just because of the big holes in the ground. I saw no wildlife of the scorpion or other variety, and this time I was okay with that.
Hideout Sink at Goat Cave Karst Nature Preserve
There is a short, narrow unpaved trail through this 8-acre site lined mostly by rocks. The whole place is very linear so the trail is easy to follow. There’s no facilities or parking here but you can park in the side street around the corner which is easy enough even with all the construction in the area now. Visiting makes for a good geology lesson, and because this is a preserve, there are specific posted rules to abide by, like staying on the trail and leaving your dog at home.
With two loops in Dick Nichols, and milers out and back in Western Oaks and the Karst Preserve, I ran a total of four miles this day. These close-by sites makes a nice trilogy of flat trails of increasing ruggedness that are easy to check out together. You could even throw in Cherry Creek Neighborhood Park which is very nearby if you really wanted to make the rounds!