If you like easier hikes, this is a good summer to watch my Colorado hiking videos, because a back injury has forced me to ramp slowly back up to normal. In January, I had surgery to remove part of a herniated disc that put pressure on my spine, but not before it damaged the nerves in my left foot. I expect to get my strength and feeling back, but nerves can take up to a year to re-grow. So for now, I'm discovering that flat or rolling hikes are not only easier on a weak foot, but can also be a delight to the eye. Case in point: Barr Lake WIldlife Refuge, where my husband, Dale, and I went on Monday, and saw more animals than we usually see while hiking.

Barr Lake is only about 40 minutes from Denver, yet it's like a trip into the wild. We saw: deer, herons, egrets, pelicans, rabbits, Canadian geese, mourning doves, red winged blackbirds, and many more colorful birds we couldn't identify. If you don't go during the hottest part of the day like we did, you might also see: badgers, foxes, bald eagles, falcons, and hawks. All that and more awaits you on a flat, three-mile round-trip from the Nature Center to the Gazebo, which includes a couple of boardwalks and nature blinds along the way.

If you'd like to visit Barr Lake from Denver: take I-76 east for 16.8 miles to Bromley Lane, turn right onto Bromley/East 152nd, go about 1 mile to Picadilly Road and turn right again. In about 2 miles, you'll see the park entrance on the right. It costs $7 to buy a day pass for your car, and this is one time when I believe it's well worth the price. Don't forget binoculars, so you can get an even closer look at animals like the ones in this video.

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