C O L O R A D O PA R K S & W I L D L I F E
18. Wetlands Are Special Places
Wetlands are unique biological habitats found within
the larger, arid ecosystem here at Eleven Mile State Park.
Many organisms live out their lives in the micro-habitat of
these watery worlds. Predatory dragonfly larvae will one
day become swiftly moving dragonflies soaring above the
wetland’s rushes and sedges. Copepods (small, shrimplike crustaceans) strain microscopic plant food from the
water. They are eaten by small fish and shorebirds, which
are in turn eaten by larger fish and more predatory birds
AT ELEVEN MILE STATE PARK
19. What’s The Catch?
Coves like this are excellent places to catch rainbow
trout, carp and northern pike. These fish all find the cove
a wonderful feeding ground. The shoreline is a favorite
nesting and feeding area for many types of ducks, geese,
red-winged blackbirds and shorebirds such as avocets,
ibises, herons and sandpipers. Nocturnal animals like
raccoon, badgers, coyote and deer all visit these same
shorelines for food and water during their nightly
prowls. Can you find any signs of these creatures along
Coyote Ridge Nature Trail
hat is your initial impression of Eleven Mile State
Park?Do you see it simply as a lake surrounded by
grass and rocks? Hopefully, after hiking this trail
your initial impression may be enhanced. As you walk the
loops of the trail pay special attention to the different feelings
that you experience along the way. The varied micro-habitats
offer many chances to view wildlife. Please respect the
wildlife that lives here. You are a visitor to their home. Do not
approach any wildlife too closely or attempt to feed it. Walk
quietly and speak softly. Noise will frighten wildlife away.
Early morning and late afternoon lighting provides the best
photo opportunities. Please take only pictures and leave only
your footprints behind as you hike. By the end of your hike,
we hope that you will discover that Eleven Mile is worth
• Wear appropriate clothing and footwear.
• Drink plenty of water.
• Pets must be leashed at all times.
• Please do not touch or feed the wildlife.
20. Folk Remedy
Squeeze the needles of this plant and you will smell its
distinct odor. Can you guess the name of this plant?
That’s right—it is juniper, a shrub that grows in a
spreading pattern over the ground of dry forests or
open slopes. The needles of juniper taper to a spiny tip
and the fruits grow round, bluish-black in color and
are covered with a whitish powder. Juniper berries are
used to flavor gin and other alcoholic beverages. If
dried, it can be used as a seasoning. It was once used as
a folk remedy for stomachaches, colds and bronchitis.
Studies on juniper berries have shown it to lower
blood sugar levels and it is believed to be active against
tumors. WARNING! Excessive amounts of juniper can
This trail is made possible through Colorado State Parks,
Great Outdoors Colorado, the Volunteers for Outdoor
Colorado, the Colorado Youth Corps Association and
the Boy Scouts of America.
1. Climate Influences Habitat
Eleven Mile is located in an arid, sub-alpine climatic
region. This climatic condition, along with thin soils,
determines the types of trees and other vegetation that
may be found along the trail. Wind plays a major role
in producing the arid condition of the region, as well as
producing the bare spots of soil and rock that you see
before you. Geologists call these spots blowouts. Blowouts
are erosional features caused by prevailing winds. As you
hike the trail, notice the different types of trees that live
here: aspen, Engelmann and blue spruce, ponderosa and
limber pine. Can you spot any of the special adaptations
that help each species survive in the shallow soils, high
wind, and extreme temperatures that exist here?
2. Picture The Past
Howbert, a small sawmill and railroad town that flourished
in the late 1800’s, now lies on the bottom of the reservoir
directly south from this spot. The town once boasted 20
buildings and a population of about 100 people. Imagine
the old post office and café where people met for coffee
every morning. Did they hear the mill’s saw as it began
cutting logs at the start of each new day? Did the school
bell resonate across the valley as it summoned children
to classes? Perhaps the whistle of the Colorado Midland
Railroad locomotive interrupted their conversations as it
rolled into town. The town is quiet now, inhabited only
by fish and other underwater creatures. Do you suppose
that a school of fish might now inhabit the school house?
3. Picture Perfect
Coyote Ridge Nature Trail Map (1.4 Miles)
Ponderosa Loop (.75 Miles)
x – x – Aspen Loop (.6 Miles)
Eleven Mile State Park
4229 County Road 92 • Lake George, CO 80827
719-748-3401 • cpw.state.co.us
Corral Cove is one of the most beautiful areas of the
park. The slanting rays of sunlight in the early morning
and late evening produce some of the best pictures that
can be taken at Eleven Mile. Plan to return if you did
not get your winning shot today. Directly south and
across the lake is Thirty-nine Mile Mountain. To the
west, you can easily see some of the peaks that make up
the spine of the Continental Divide. In front of these
peaks, and much closer, is Spinney Mountain. The
small island in front you is Duck Island. It is located
between Deer Island to the east and Goose Island to
4. Wildlife Hotels
The dead and decaying trees before you are actually
serving an important purpose. They are wildlife hotels.
Just like our hotels, they provide wildlife with a place to
sleep, get a meal or simply rest for a few minutes. How
many creatures might find a home in a tiny hollowed
out cavity? Abert’s squirrels, wrens, woodpeckers, bats
and raccoons all like these cozy accommodations, not to
mention the numerous insects that live here. The insects
living here are actually feeding upon the dead tree and
they will in turn be fed upon by some of the tree’s other
residents. Try to spot other wildlife hotels as you continue
along the trail.
5. A Home Through The Ages
Caves like this provide shelter for all types of wildlife. The
char-blackened walls are from past fires and are evidence
that humans once used the cave as well. Ute Indians,
mountain men, early settlers, ranchers and campers may
have all found shelter from the elements within this cave.
Warmth was hard to come by so they needed the fire.
Natural wind protection and ventilation made it possible
to build a fire within the cave. How would you like to
spend the night here?
8. Sweet Smelling Ponderosa
Place your nose next to the bark of the one of these
ponderosa pine trees. Can you smell the scent of vanilla
or butterscotch? The aroma is only produced after a
ponderosa has lived about 75 years. The Abert’s squirrel
chooses a certain ponderosa as its preferred home and
food source simply because of the tree’s scent. Short,
debarked sticks left at the base of the tree are evidence of
the gnawing activity of these rodents and their preference
for this particular tree.
9. Renewal Through Fire
A lightning strike that hits a tree can produce a fire that
quickly consumes the tree and then spreads to the matted
needles and decaying timber lying on the ground below.
This often produces a forest fire that will burn everything
in its path. But before the summer is over, new growth
will begin as grasses and forage plants start to re-colonize
the area into a brand new meadow. The new meadow will
soon become the home to many new types of wildlife. As
you hike the trail, look for other lightning struck trees.
10. The Rock Cycle
Aspen leaves flutter and rattle in the wind due to their
flat petioles (stems). For centuries, Native Americans used
the aspen for both food and medicinal purposes. Aspens
are vegetative reproducers, meaning they grow from
root sprouts. It is why some aspen groves have survived
over 10,000 years. Forget your sunscreen? The Utes
used the white powder from the bark as a form of sun
block, but please don’t try that with these trees—it could
Over time, rocks are constantly changing from one rock
type to another. This is known as the rock cycle. The
rock before you was originally Pikes Peak granite. It was
changed into what you see today by such geologic forces
as deep burial, uplift, erosion, and hydrothermal activity
(“hydro” meaning water, “thermal” meaning heat).
Solutions that were forced through the cracks in the
country rock (rock already in place) deposited minerals
in those cracks. Other processes at work in the rock cycle
are metamorphism (caused by heat and deep burial) and
recrystallization (that results from this heat and produces
layering or banding in the rocks).
7. Rock Solid Habitat
11. Bunches Of Grass
6. Dancers In The Wind
Rock outcroppings provide great habitat for raptors such
as great horned owls, hawks and golden eagles. Birds,
insects, bats, bobcat, chipmunks, bears, weasels and
mountain lions all find refuge among the rock crevices.
Some use the crevices for shelter. Others discover food
within them. Imagine a golden eagle perched on its
high rocky throne above the slopping meadow below.
The height advantage provided by the rocks gives
every predator an upper hand when it comes to finding
Look at the various grasses in the meadow before you.
Notice how they are all growing in clumps. This type
of grass is called bunch grass. Its method of growth
is a unique adaptation for survival in dry or arid
environments. Bunch grass needs to spread itself out
over as much territory as possible to capture every drop
of moisture it can. But it can not grow in a mat like out
east because it is too dry here. Instead, bunch grasses have
adapted to grow in clumps so they can conserve energy
during the dry periods. If those clumps are scattered all
over when flood waters come then the rushing water is
directed right to them by the channels created between
the bunches. How many different types of bunch grass
can you spot?
12. Why Corral Cove?
Look carefully to the north. Do you see the remains of
an old corral? The corral belonged to a settler during
the early 1900’s. He settled on this land because of the
abundant water supply. The remains of early human
habitation are scattered throughout the park in the form
of old foundations, chimneys, sod homes, timbered
logs, arrowheads, mortars and trash piles. All these
remains are called artifacts, valued by anthropologists
who study earlier cultures. Artifacts can be any item left
by an earlier culture that tells who used to live in the
area, how they hunted, what they ate and how they lived.
How would you tell the story of the settler who owned
13. Shrubby Indications
Shrubs are a necessary component of any meadow. Their
seeds provide food for birds and rodents while their
new growth shoots & stems provide food for deer and
rabbits. They also provide shelter from both the heat and
predators. Shrubby cinquefoil and rabbitbrush are two
shrubs found in this meadow that thrive in poor soil. Both
plants are indicator species. Indicator species are used by
land managers to tell them whether their land is healthy
or not. Cinquefoil is characterized by yellow flowers and
five fingered leaves. Rabbitbrush also has yellow flowers
that bloom late in the summer. It has a distinct scent and
like cinquefoil, serves as a reserve food source for mule
deer, antelope, jackrabbits, bighorn sheep and elk. The
presence of rabbitbrush tells where soil has been eroded
or over-grazed. The more rabbitbrush found in an area,
the worse the soil condition. How many of these indicator
plants are in the meadow? Do you think the meadow
14. A Mouse Outhouse
Look carefully at the rock pile in front of you. The black
mass on the ledge is the accumulated droppings of a small
rodent called the western jumping mouse. Year after year,
this mouse uses the same location to deposit its waste.
As time goes by, a mound builds up. Minerals within
the waste cause stains as they are leeched out by liquids.
Jumping mice are different from other mice because of
their extremely long tail and large feet. The long tails are
used for balance as the mice launch themselves in jumps
with their hind legs. These changes in body structure are
adaptations that help them escape predation. Imagine
a coyote’s surprise when the small mouse it is chasing
suddenly leaps up onto a rock crevice instead of running
under a bush. As you walk along the trail, see if you can
find any other jumping mouse waste deposits.
15. Symbiosis in Action
Look carefully at the rock before you. Do you see that
colorful plant material growing upon it? This is lichen, a
combination of fungus and algae growing in a symbiotic
relationship (both plants benefit). There are many different
colors of lichen. How many have you seen today? They
need no organic food source (like fungi) and unlike algae
they remain alive even when desiccated (dried out). They
require only light, air and a few minerals, which they
apparently absorb from the surface upon which they
grow. Lichens are often the first plant colonists in bare
rocky areas and form the initial layer of soil that other
plants require to grow in.
16. Engelmann Spruce
The Engelmann spruce that stands before you is identified
by its dull, flexible, four-sided needles. It typically grows
to heights of 100-120 feet and has a lifespan of about
400 years. A typical old age tree today was born about
the time that the Puritans were landing on Plymouth
Rock! In addition to being a major source of construction
lumber, it is used for pianos and violins due to its resonant
qualities. This tree is highly utilized by mule deer, bighorn
sheep, elk, porcupine and red squirrels. Squirrels eat the
seeds within the cones and leave behind piles of cone
scales beneath the tree. Over the years, the heap builds up
and is called a midden. Keep a watch for other middens
as you continue your hike. Blue spruce is similar to
Engelmann and is named for its blue-gray needles that
make it a highly prized ornamental tree.
17. You decide!
Look at the large boulders in the meadow below you. They
seem out of place. How did they get there? Were they
deposited by the slow moving valley glacier that sculpted
this U-shaped valley about 10,000 years ago? Perhaps
gravity pulled them down from the nearby hillside when
they broke loose.