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BackCountry - Wild at Heart

Raise your hiking safety IQ

by | July 21st, 2014

In Colorado, hiking is skiing’s warm-weather cousin. Both provide fresh air, breathtaking scenery, exercise…and the attentions of a search and rescue team, should you go off half-cocked.

Because hiking involves nature, things simply aren’t as predictable as they are on the gym treadmill. So it’s a smart idea to have some basic hiking know-how before you undertake your first fourteener—or even head out to our nearby open spaces.

If you live at BackCountry, you’re probably already familiar with the trails in the Backcountry Wilderness Area next door—a conservation zone that stretches across 8,200 acres (and 467 acres of that is set aside for the private use of BackCountry residents). Veteran or beginner hikers alike should check out these basics to stay healthy, safe, and savvy about wilderness etiquette.

Plan ahead
Use a guidebook, call a park ranger, talk to the smart and friendly people at REI. You want to choose a destination that is full of beauty, not surprises like flooded trails and mountain lions. Get your permits, if needed. Check the weather before you go. Plan on hiking no more than 5 to 7 miles a day. Let someone at home know your plans, and stick to your route so you’ll be easy to find if necessary.
Hiker couple hiking in forest

Take someone with you
Solitude is a beautiful thing when you’re hiking, so use your head on this one. No worries if you’re just going for a stroll on a nearby trail where you’re likely to occasionally cross paths with some other humans. But if you plan to visit to rarely-traveled wild spaces, take someone with you. People in pairs are less prone to panic and can help each other (or go find help) in case of injury. Stay together!

Pack some essentials
On a serious hike, be sure to take a map, compass, or less reliably, a GPS device, which may or may not have service. Bring a flashlight, lighter, and/or matches (but be sure to keep them dry). A knife can come in handy in infinite ways. Pack a simple first aid kit with gauze and bandages, anti-bacterial cream, and aspirin. Don’t forget the toilet paper and sunscreen, SPF 30 or 45, reapplied every two hours or so. Remember, those burns happen faster at higher altitude.
family walking

Keep hunger and thirst at bay
Avoid dehydration, which quickly saps strength, by bringing plenty of water. Two quarts per person, per day is recommended. (Water weighs about 8 lbs per gallon, so no need to overdo it.) Drinking out of streams is not a good idea, unless you want to boil it or use water purification tablets (another conversation with the REI folks). People can do well with about 1 lb. of food per day. Grab some trail mix, dried fruit, energy bars, or jerky for snacks.

Dress for hiking success
Since weather can change quickly here in Colorado, wear layers. Breathable wind and rain gear are good to have too, depending on the forecast. Prevent blisters and all the attendant agony of hiking in bad footwear (shudder! See details in Wild by author Cheryl Strayed) by getting lightweight boots that are slightly larger than your street shoes and wearing breathable hiking socks.

Detail of man hiking
Be a nice guest

Realize that you’re in Mother Nature’s home, and that other hikers will want to discover a setting as pristine as the one you found. Don’t pick the flowers, be careful with fire and whatever you pack in, pack it out. Check out the Leave No Trace Seven Principles here.

Want more tips about hiking? The USDA Forest Service’s Trail Tips for Hikers and Backpackers is a great place to start.

BackCountry’s Patriotic BBQ and Concert at the Sundial House

by | July 18th, 2014

Residents got their “cowboy” on with one of Country’s hottest groups, the Chris King Band, during the BackCountry Patriotic BBQ & Country Music Concert.

Good fun that funds good at the BackCountry Golf Tournament

by | July 16th, 2014

Heads up, duffers. The 5th Annual BackCountry Golf Tournament will return on September 28 at the Highlands Ranch Golf Course. And this year, it’s more than just a fabulous day of fun (and prizes!) with your neighbors. It’s a great way to help young people, because all profits go to The First Tee, a charity that prepares youth for success by reinforcing values like integrity, respect, and perseverance as learned through the game of golf.
BackCountry Highlands Ranch Colorado Golf Tournament

A BackCountry resident since 2008, avid golfer David Angard launched the tournament as a way for BackCountry golfers to get to know each other. That first year, Angard rounded up 12 players. In 2013 the count was up to 40; and this year’s goal is 72 for a lighthearted game of two-person scramble.

In two-person scramble, after each of the pair has shot, the best of the two shots is selected and both players play from that spot, and so on, until the ball is holed. One team score is recorded. It’s a faster moving game, good for camaraderie building, and more forgiving of varying skill levels. Which is a good thing, as competitors of all ages and abilities are invited to join the fun. Afterwards, everyone’s encouraged to meet at the clubhouse for lunch, drinks, and a bit of game rehashing.

You could win golf-related prizes, but, best of all, first place winners will see their names engraved on the tournament trophy in the Sundial House, proudly displayed for all to see.
Highlands Ranch Colorado Golf

The 5th Annual BackCountry Golf Tournament
Highlands Ranch Golf Course
5815 E Gleneagles Village Parkway Highlands Ranch, CO 80130
Sunday, September 28
1:30 tee time (shotgun start)

Residents can register at via ActiveNet by July 28. One player per team must be a BackCountry resident. Questions? Call David Angard at 303.517.3914 or email at

Taming your thirsty yard

by | July 11th, 2014

It was a wet winter for Colorado snowpack (as in 170% of normal), but that’s no reason to squander this precious resource. In our semi-arid climate, water-wise practices are a good habit to keep from year to year, especially as our population keeps growing.
Green wet grass with dew on a blades

Like everyone in Highlands Ranch, BackCountry residents are fortunate to have not one but two water supply sources—the South Platte River and a massive underground aquifer. By having the river as a secondary source, Highlands Ranch has been able to annually recharge its aquifer for more than 10 years. Centennial Water, provider to Highlands Ranch, offers these tips and restrictions to help us keep our water usage (and budgets) in check while maintaining a healthy lawn and robust aquifer.

  • Water only when your grass shows signs of needing water, such as when footprints remain after 30 minutes. Continually wet soils are deprived of oxygen, which is needed for proper root growth.
  • Adjust irrigation controllers weekly throughout the season and as the weather changes. Perform regular inspections of your sprinkler system, checking for leaks, broken heads, and efficient coverage.
  • Water in the late evening to early morning hours. No outdoor irrigation is allowed from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. from April 1 until Oct. 15. Hand-watering trees and shrubs is allowed anytime, if a hose is held and equipped with a shut-off device.
  • Washing cars is allowed anytime. However, a hose-end shut-off device must be used.
  • Wasteful water practices are prohibited. This includes allowing excess water to flow into gutters or neglecting to repair leaks. When needed, apply water using multiple short cycles to avoid water running across sidewalks and into the gutter.
  • Rain sensors are required on all non-residential irrigation systems.
  • Customers who install new landscaping or make major repairs may be eligible to receive an increased water budget and a daytime watering permit. Permits are available during April, May, September, and October. Permits may be approved only once per calendar year. Applications are available online at
  • About half of the water we use at home is applied to lawns and gardens. When landscaping, use plants in your yard that don’t need very much water and be sure cluster similar types of plants for efficiency. Learn more by watching this two-minute video, “Right Plants, Right Place” from Centennial Water.

Fireworks are only the beginning. Literally!

by | July 3rd, 2014

Sure, the Fourth provides an incredible kickoff to July, but it’s not the grand finale. There’s plenty of fun to be had all month long. Metro Denver’s July events calendar is brimming with music and art happenings, and many take place outside. So be sure to keep your picnic blanket in the car. After all, we have a full 31 days of summer sun and fun to bask in this month.

July 4th Fun in Highlands Ranch – July 4, 8am-7pm
No mere evening fireworks display, Highlands Ranch makes a full day of it for the whole family, starting with an 8am 5K run/walk along Highlands Ranch’s beautiful trail system. Activities also include parades, games, live music, a hot dog eating contest, pet adoption fair, obstacle course, and, of course, a dazzling fireworks show.   Learn more.
July 4 bike parade

Cherry Creek Arts Festival-July 4-6
Where else can you meet and talk with internationally known visual artists, listen to live music, sample fine cuisine, explore a full block of interactive family activities (ARTivity Avenue), and lend your own artistic touches to a huge “imagination collaboration” mural? Since 1991, Denver’s renowned Cherry Creek Arts Festival has been synonymous with Fourth of July weekend. Held in Denver’s Cherry Creek North Shopping District, from 2nd to 3rd Avenues, on the seven streets between Columbine and Steele Streets. Admission is free. 
Learn more.

BackCountry Patriotic BBQ and Country Music Concert - July 12, 5:30pm-8:30pm
Dust off your cowboy boots and head to the BackCountry Amphitheater for some toe-tappin’, two-steppin’ live music from The Chris King Band, one of Colorado’s favorite country rock bands. Festivities include games for all ages, airbrush tattoos, and a roundup of BBQ favorites like pulled pork sliders, hamburgers, veggie burgers, and hot dogs. Adult meals, $13; kids meals $6. Residents only.  Order online through ActiveNet or at the Sundial House by Tuesday, July 8.

Summer Concert Series: Under a Blood Red Sky – July 24, 6:30-8pm
Close your eyes and you just might think you’re in Dublin. Under a Blood Red Sky is an acclaimed U2 tribute band that passionately recreates authentic U2 concerts — and has even played for sold-out crowds at the Paramount Theater and Red Rocks. Covering the War tour in 1983 to present day, the band consistently amazes fans with their ability to recreate famous U2 shows. Admission is free. Feel free to bring a picnic dinner, but no glass or dogs allowed. At Highland Heritage Regional Park. Learn more.

Chihuly Exhibit at Denver Botanic Gardens - Now through November 30.
Any July stroll among the DBC’s 24 acres of flowerbeds and ponds is an explosion of color, but artist Dale Chihuly’s current exhibit of blown glass artwork, Garden Cycle, takes the gardens’ vibrancy to a truly awe-inspiring level. Spread among 14 sites, Chihuly’s world-traveling (and original to DBC) exhibits range from delicate, floating spheres to a tower of 650 blue icicles. Consider going at night when exhibits are illuminated, or taking aguided tour, or a Chihuly-inspired photography or painting class. Tickets $10. Learn more.

BackCountry’s Kids Educational Event at the Sundial Amphitheatre

by | July 2nd, 2014

It’s a bug’s life and more at BackCountry during the Kid’s Educational Event.

Shadow Walk Collection – Shadow Walk Collection

by | June 26th, 2014

Shadow Walk Collection
Silvermoon Plan
Price 731,737*
10664 Skydance Drive
4 beds | 3.5 baths | 3-car tandem

This walkout home features a spacious great room with two-sided stacked stone fireplace to the dining room, a well-designed kitchen with island, morning room, and stainless steel appliances. The office and laundry room are on the main floor and a media room is on the second-level. Design finishes include red oak hardwood flooring, tile flooring in the bathrooms, slab engineered stone countertops and backsplash with a slab granite island in the kitchen, and cherry slate cabinetry. This home is available in October/November 2014.

*Price listed is not a final price.

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BackCountry’s Red White & Blue Celebration

by | June 26th, 2014

Residents kicked-off the summer with a Red, White & Blue Celebration including flag spinning, hula hooping and streamer dancing.

Toll Brothers Offers Unique Cul-de-sac Homesite

by | June 26th, 2014

Featured Home November 2013 - New Homes in Highlands Ranch

Don’t miss out on a unique cul-de-sac homesite that is next to the open space, located on a quiet street near the walking path and in close proximity to the Sundial House. You can choose from four impressive floor plans, ranging from 3,798 to 4,165 sq. ft. with 4-5 bedrooms, 3 1/2 baths, and 3-car garages. With extensive options to design your Toll Brothers home, this community’s charm and ambiance is unmatched. Homes start from the upper $600,000s. For information contact Caroline Rudee at 303-791-4288 or, or visit

Downward-facing-what? An insider’s guide to yoga in BackCountry

by | June 23rd, 2014

Maybe you’re already an accomplished yogi totally in touch with all seven chakras.

Or maybe you just roll your eyes at people like that.

With 20.4 million Americans now practicing (about 8.7 percent of all U.S. adults) according to, chances are good you’ve at least tried a class. Or are at least curious about this “craze” that’s been going on for around 5,000 years. Either way, there’s a place at the mat for you at BackCountry. Here’s a quick look into the world of downward-facing-dog, Namaste, and other yogic mysteries.

First of all, where can I practice?
These days, there seem to be yoga shops popping up on practically every corner. Here are three solid suggestions. First, whether you’re a beginner or expert, free is always nice. Try Highland Ranch’s Free Yoga in the Park, each Wednesday and Saturday, from May 29-August 16 (weather permitting). NamasteWorks Yoga + Wellness and Highlands Ranch Metro District are co-hosting an hour of complimentary yoga at Civic Green Park. Bring your own yoga mat, sunscreen and a water bottle. Open to ages 18 and up. (No yoga on June 14 or July 26.) For more information, call 303-791-2710 or visit

Option two is CorePower Yoga, a hugely successful national franchise that actually started in Denver. There’s a studio just up the road, off Highlands Ranch Parkway. CorePower offers novice to advanced classes, and room-temp to drip-like-a-melting-snowcone classes. And they’ll even let you try a week for free. Single classes are $20, but packages can bring the price down significantly.
Option three is ideal for BackCountry residents because it’s so close to home, so intimate, and so well-priced. Each week at the Sundial House there’s yoga fit for everyone. Instructor Laura Davis teaches a Beginner yoga class on Tuesdays at 11am, All Levels Vinyasa Class on Fridays at 5:30pm, and Yoga for Seniors on Fridays at 11am. Signup is required. Classes are only $10 each or $75 for a 10-class pass. Learn more and sign up at

What’s in it for me?
Lots—as you can imagine from a fad that has lasted five millenia. The word “yoga” comes from the Sanskrit root “yuj,” which means “to yoke” the spirit and physical body together. So yoga really addresses both sides of that equation—improving flexibility, balance, and strength while bringing focus and calm to the mind. In terms of physical benefits, practitioners have a seemingly endless list. Yoga is excellent at strengthening muscles, especially the core. Yoga takes joints through their full range of motion, which squeezes and soaks areas of little-used cartilage, giving it the nutrients it needs to stay healthy and supple. Weight-bearing poses (like Downward-Facing Dog—an inversion with feet and hands on the ground, tush high in the air) help strengthen bones, warding off osteoporosis. Yoga helps improve blood flow, drain lymph glands, lower cortisol levels and blood sugar, and lift depression.

If you’re looking for an ideal complement to your running, hiking, biking and skiing, yoga works well for many. Read more here. In fact, it’s a well-known fact that the Denver Nuggets, Philadelphia Eagles and New York Giants all have yoga instructors on their staff.

Be sure to speak with your doctor first, though, especially if you have health issues to consider.

What should I wear?
Proper body alignment is essential to a successful yoga practice. Choose clothes that aren’t too baggy and that help you and your yoga instructor make sure you’re not doing anything harmful to your body. In more physical types of yoga, and especially in hot classes, expect to sweat. Wear clothes that dry quickly, wick moisture away, and will keep you as comfortable as possible. Stretchy fabrics will help you stay comfortable as you move from pose to pose. Plan to be barefoot; socks can be too slippery. Find out if your class provides a yoga mat or if you need to bring your own (easily obtained at Target or Walmart).

What does Namaste mean, anyway?
You’ve probably seen it on bumper stickers. You and your instructor will say this as you bow to each other at the close of the class. Nama means bow, as means I, and te means you. Therefore, namaste means “I bow to you.” Basically, the gesture represents the belief that there is a divine spark within each of us that is located in the heart chakra. Namaste is an acknowledgement of the soul in one by the soul in another. So…Namaste.

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