Heading south on I-76, Lochbuie is one of the last small towns before the Denver suburbs. While some communities have long and storied histories, Lochbuie got its start as a mobile home park in the 1960s. That quirky beginning isn’t holding the town back; as the Denver metro area spreads its influence farther afield in this hot market, Lochbuie may find itself in a housing gold rush someday soon.
For now, Lochbuie is mainly residential. Several veterinary practices, groomers, and pet supply stores are available within a few miles in the adjacent town of Brighton, but there are currently none within town limits. Since the city doesn't maintain public parks, in-town walking relies on the quiet residential streets. The best sidewalks are in the blocks surrounding Lochbuie Elementary School, and the affordable homes here are well-maintained.
There's no reason to stay home in Lochbuie; with prairie sunrises and mountain sunsets, Lochbuie's location is ideal for the explorers in your pack. The Rocky Mountain National Park, Pawnee National Grasslands, and Arapaho & Roosevelt National Forests are all easy day trips, each reachable in less than 90 minutes. These vast wilderness preserves give your pups all the adventure they could want; there are 300 miles of rugged mountain trail at RMNP alone. Many sizable state and city parks are even closer to Lochbuie, such as the 2,400-acre William Frederick Hayden Park on Green Mountain in Lakewood, just 36 miles from home.
Just southeast of Brighton, Barr Lake State Park is mostly lake. The 8.8-mile Lake Loop Trail lets you see the water from every angle while spotting plenty of wildlife from designated viewing areas. Over 350 bird species make appearances at Barr Lake, including some nesting bald eagles. Deer and small mammals also show up to say hello. If the loop is too much for somebody’s short legs — hey, we can't all be Great Danes — there is also a 1.3-mile boardwalk through wetlands and over the water via the trailhead at the Nature Center. Leashed dogs are welcome on trails but are not allowed in the nature preserve. Note that a daily admission fee applies. As long as your wallet is open, head across the street to the pet-supply store; one of the major national chains has a location near the park’s entrance.
The enormous Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge is a popular hiking spot but, sadly, doesn't permit pets. Too bad: we bet your pups would enjoy getting a look at some bison and bald eagles. Fortunately, your fur family can keep an eye on the sky from the Second Creek Trail at the Second Creek Open Space, directly north of the Arsenal. Second Creek is 19 miles from Lochbuie in the Reunion area of Commerce City. The peaceful trail feels remote in spite of its in-town location. Extend your walk into Fronterra Park to the west, or head southeast for a bigger adventure. The trail leads through the Buckley Ranch Open Space to the suburban Landmark Trail. Landmark takes you through a residential district to the picturesque ponds and meadows of Reunion Park, and then connects to the Unity trail to wind among affluent homes in this new residential neighborhood.
A few miles west of Second Creek is, well, First Creek. (Commerce City isn’t big on creative names, apparently.) And on the banks of First Creek is the First Creek Dog Park — Lochbuie’s nearest off-leash play place! With benches, seasonal running water, and pea gravel to keep the mud under control, this fenced park is comfortable for both humans and fur-babies. And with splashing access in a small creek, too, your pups will have the frolic they’ve been dreaming about. Plans are in the works to develop a city trail that will connect First Creek to the Sand Creek Greenway Trail on the south end of town and the Barr Lake State Park to the north. Until that project is fully developed, a short drive across I-76 leads to the 18-mile South Platte River Trail.
About a half-hour drive from Lochbuie, the Carolyn Holmberg Nature Preserve in Broomfield offers four dog-friendly hiking trails. For any dachshunds in your pack, the 0.3-mile Lac Amora Connector Trail is a pretty walk from the parking area to the lake — easy enough for even the littlest legs. If your pack is up for an adventure, take the 1.3-mile Cradleboard Trail south or the 1.5-mile Mary Miller Trail north from the lake. From Mary Miller, a 0.9-mile extension on the Ruth Roberts Connector Trail is available to amp up your workout. Note that segments of the trails are occasionally rerouted to protect nesting wildlife, so keep an eye out for detour markers. Celebrate your hiking accomplishment in Broomfield on your way home. You can sample some local beers in the dog-friendly taproom and share a bite from the patio food trucks at 4 Noses Brewery on 116th Circle.
Longmont is 30 miles northwest of Lochbuie, but there’s an important reason to make the trek at least a few times each summer: the Dog Beach at Union Reservoir. For a small daily admission fee — which gives you access to the human beach and recreation areas, too — you and your pups can swim away your worries. Unlike many dog park ponds where stagnant water makes human swimming pretty unappealing, the cleanliness of Union Reservoir might have you wading in for a game of Marco-Fido-Polo. It’s essential that your dog responds to verbal commands, though; the fencing is incomplete. Longmont has four other off-leash dog parks and 36 pet-friendly restaurants with outdoor seating, so take some time to explore before heading home. Georgia Boys BBQ on Collyer Street might satisfy some carnivorous cravings.