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What’s blooming at BackCountry, summer edition

by | August 25th, 2014

Between the crocuses, daffodils, and tulips, spring was a delightful time to wander through BackCountry. Come visit now, and you’ll discover that late summer has plenty to offer, too. Spring plantings of wild roses in reds, yellows, and oranges are going strong, as are all the other perennials thriving from the summer sun and rain. Here are a few photos of the flowers and grasses you’ll encounter as you walk the trails of BackCountry.

Parks in Highlands Ranch Colorado

Sit on the rock ledge beside Discovery Pond and listen to wind rustling through the wild grasses, cottonwoods, and cattails. Look closely and you might spy a carp munching on weeds; one of BackCountry’s many environmentally savvy practices.

 

Walk the pathway through Discovery Park, especially next month after a few cooler days, and discover how the wild grasses change from summery green to rich, deep tones of red and orange.

Walk the pathway through Discovery Park, especially next month after a few cooler days, and discover how the wild grasses change from summery green to rich, deep tones of red and orange.

 

Mountains are always in the backdrop at BackCountry. In the foreground, a sweep of red Himalayan border jewel and purple midnight salvia.

Mountains are always in the backdrop at BackCountry. In the foreground, a sweep of red Himalayan border jewel and purple midnight salvia.

 

Himalayan border jewel is apparently as tasty as it is beautiful.

Himalayan border jewel is apparently as tasty as it is beautiful.

 

Cattails offer nature’s ultimate aquatic filtering system. Found beside BackCountry’s many ponds, they effectively filter stormwater runoff and herbicides, while providing a cozy habitat for wildlife.

Cattails offer nature’s ultimate aquatic filtering system. Found beside BackCountry’s many ponds, they effectively filter stormwater runoff and herbicides, while providing a cozy habitat for wildlife.

 

A prairie shortgrass mix ties together the neighborhood’s many open spaces and contributes to BackCountry’s native Colorado feel.

A prairie shortgrass mix ties together the neighborhood’s many open spaces and contributes to BackCountry’s native Colorado feel.

 

Purple sage and yarrow bloom all summer long, and bring vibrant color to many of the common areas in BackCountry.

Purple sage and yarrow bloom all summer long, and bring vibrant color to many of the common areas in BackCountry.

 

Native to Colorado, red and yellow yarrow are water-wise and attract butterflies, too.

Native to Colorado, red and yellow yarrow are water-wise and attract butterflies, too.

 

Native to Colorado, red and yellow yarrow are water-wise and attract butterflies, too.

Native to Colorado, red and yellow yarrow are water-wise and attract butterflies, too.

Paragon Homes – Only 4 Lots Left!

by | August 25th, 2014


Sanctuary Collection
$1,195,000* | Ranch Style – Plan 5
11 Flowerburst Ct.
Highlands Ranch, CO 80126
5,288 Square Feet
4 bedrooms | 4 bathrooms | 3-car garage

Paragon Homes has only four remaining lots all with a mountain and/or lake vista. Choose from five semi-custom floor plans including the popular ranch-style home featuring a master suite complete with heated tile floors as well as three secondary bedrooms with full bathrooms. Additional features include a Chef’s kitchen with butler’s pantry, volume ceiling in the great room, courtyard with fireplace, 3-car garage, finished basement and covered outdoor patio.

View the BackCountry Featured Home

*Price, specifications and availability are subject to change without notice. Square footage is approximate. Actual homes as constructed may not contain the features and layouts depicted and may vary from photo.

New dog in town

by | August 18th, 2014

When it comes to hot dogs, more than a few people turn up their noses. Which is completely understandable if we’re talking about boring, pedestrian hot dogs. However, if you’ve ever swooned over a Biker Jim’s gourmet hot dog (of Food Network fame), you’re going to be delighted to know his famous dogs have found a home in Highlands Ranch.

Photo by Danielle Lirette/Westword

Photo by Danielle Lirette/Westword

Opened earlier this month, Biker Jim’s Gourmet Dogs is located at 1601 Mayberry Drive near Crave and Indulge Wine Bar, and, fittingly, in the former site of Bernie’s Hot Dogs. Hailed as Denver’s best hot dog by Westword, and one of the country’s best according to Food and WineForbes, and the Food Channel, Biker Jim’s began humbly with former repo man, Jim Pittenger, selling hot dogs from a cart on the 16th Street Mall. These were no ordinary dogs, though, as they were split, slathered with cream cheese and heaped with strangely irresistible onions soaked in Coca-Cola. Biker Jim’s growing fame led to a shop on Larimer Street (still thriving, as is the cart), and now the Highlands Ranch restaurant, with 30 seats and great mountain views.

What’s created his rabidly loyal fan base? Quality ingredients with unexpected flavors. Dogs include Louisiana Red Hots, Wild Boar Sausage, Alaska Reindeer, and Elk Jalapeno Cheddar Brats. One savory flavor combo, The Conspiracy, includes Stilton blue cheese, bacon, red onion marmalade, and French fried onions. And house-made sides like French fries, fried macaroni and cheese, and fried pickles round things out…so to speak.

Hungry yet? Visit Biker Jim’s Sunday-Thursday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Photo by Danielle Lirette/Westword

Photo by Danielle Lirette/Westword

BackCountry’s Back to School Pool Party at the Sundial Pool

by | August 14th, 2014

BackCountry children enjoyed their final days of summer during the Back-to-School Pool Party.

The ABCs of Stone Mountain Elementary School

by | August 11th, 2014

Over the years, our neighborhood has earned an enviable reputation for its high-achieving schools. Dig a little deeper into the test scores, and you’ll see that BackCountry kids are definitely getting their share of the good stuff.

For BackCountry residents, home schools are Stone Mountain Elementary SchoolRanch View Middle School, and ThunderRidge High School. Over the coming school year, we’ll take a look at the other two, but here’s a bit of insight into the kind of education BackCountry kids in grades preK-6 enjoy at Stone Mountain Elementary.
Image from http://realtortrina.com/

Awards & Achievements
Here’s a good place to start since, well, there are so many accomplishments. In 2012, Stone Mountain Elementary was one of eight Douglas County School District schools to receive the John Irwin Award from the Colorado Department of Education. This award recognizes schools that exceed state expectations over a three-year period. The school also won the Governor’s Distinguished Improvement Award for exceeding expectations in growth for not just some, but all, students.

Other nifty achievements:
• More than 94% of students scored proficient or advanced in math
• Top 10% ranking of Colorado schools in reading
• Top 3% in writing
• 88% of staff members hold master’s degrees
• Ranked 9 out of 10 on Great Schools.com

Brass Tacks
Here’s a little basic 411 on the school. Little ones can enroll for morning or afternoon preschool and kindergarten, as well as kindergarten enrichment. Imagination Station, a before- and after-school child care, provides kids with games, crafts, organized games in the gymnasium, a variety of outdoor activities, and a homework club. And speaking of clubs and activities, there are plenty—including art, chess, choir, guitar, cooking, Destination Imagination, skiing, robotics, Lego building, Spanish, and more. The school also boasts an active parent component that helps provide community-building extras such as ice cream socials, father/daughter and mother/son events, fun runs, yearbook, and an annual dinner and auction.

Commute
Busy parents, you’re going to love this. The school nestles up close to the western edge of BackCountry, which translates into a conveniently short commute. So, depending on where you live in the community, you could be as close as a five-minute walk away. Or, at the most, a five-minute drive. And of course, there’s always the ability to use the school district’s bus program. Walk, bike, or drive, Stone Mountain Elementary is an outstanding destination to have so close to home.

Please note! Douglas County has organized a school supply drive to help less fortunate kids in the county get their school year started right. Learn how to contribute here.

BackCountry’s Mystery and Mummy’s Treasure Event

by | August 5th, 2014

Residents learned to “walk like the Egyptians” at the Mystery of the Mummies Treasure event.

BackCountry’s Tween Pool Party and Water Wizard at the Sundial Pool

by | August 4th, 2014

BackCountry tweens enjoyed an afternoon of water games at the Tween Pool Party and Water Wizard event.

Best bets for a last blast

by | August 1st, 2014

Just as daffodils usher us into spring, those back-to-school sale ads are a sure sign that fall is on its way. But perhaps this is a better way to look at it: Now is the time to plan a month-long last blast of summer fun. So, in addition to squeezing in a few more picnics, pool parties, and forays into the mountains, be sure to fit in a few of these sure-to-please local happenings.

Film in the Park – Aug. 1, 8, 15, 29 8:15-10 p.m. (approximately)
It’s Friday night at the movies…outside! And it’s free! Grab your kids, a basket of goodies, and a picnic blanket, and settle in for a movie under the stars. (But leave your furry family members at home—no dogs allowed.) Movies are screened each Friday at Civic Green Park (map) beginning at dusk (approximately 8:15 p.m.).
 Here’s the family-friendly August lineup: Happy Feet Two (8/1); Despicable Me 2 (8/8); The Lego Movie (8/15); Frozen Sing-a-Long (8/29). Learn more.
HighlandsRanchOutdoorMovie
BackCountry Back-to-School Pool Party – Aug. 7, 10:45 a.m.-12 p.m.
Hey residents, school will start before you know it, so let’s get everyone together for an grand almost-finale. A lively entertainer will be on hand to oversee a wide variety of pool activities, and snow cones will keep everyone cool. Prizes and other fun surprises provided by Wolsky Orthodontics. Please log into www.backcountrylife.org and visit the calendar to reserve your spot by Wednesday, August 6.
USAProChallenge
USA Pro Challenge Bike Race – Aug. 18-24
Watch the world’s top cyclists as they zip through some of the most gorgeous terrain in our state. One of the largest U.S. cycling events, this seven-day race will spotlight the best of the best as they reach higher altitudes than many have ever had to endure. If you can’t swing a day trip to watch at mountain sites like Aspen or Breckenridge, stake out a spot at Garden of the Gods to catch the Colorado Springs circuit, or on Lookout Mountain for the Boulder-to-Denver leg. Learn more.
BackcountryWildernessArea
Backcountry Wilderness Hike, Picnic and Campfire – Aug. 28, 6-8 p.m.
Think of it as a peaceful, midweek camping trip—all the fun and beauty without the packing, mountain traffic, and sleeping-on-the-ground business. This Thursday night event explores the sanctuary section of the Backcountry Wilderness Area. A guide will lead you on a flat, two-mile hike that includes amazing views, a warm campfire, and roasted marshmallows. Bring dinner and enjoy a picnic in the fresh air. Ages 4 and up. $4/$5. Learn more.
TasteofCOFood
A Taste of Colorado – Aug. 29-Sept. 1
Belly up to this annual event—it’s worth every calorie. A Taste of Colorado features more than 50 of Colorado’s favorite eateries, serving up small portions and full meals alike, plus local and nationally renowned chef demonstrations. There are also five stages of entertainment from awesome bands to puppet shows, in addition to a carnival, arts and crafts marketplace, raptor shows, and exploration of Colorado historical roots though Navajo weaving, blacksmithing, and more. Admission is free. Tickets required for food, beverages, and carnival rides. Learn more.

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.

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