hiking mondays: castlewood canyon state park

There's just something about tradition- those long established customs that are passed down from generation to generation. We've got a few great traditions in my family, most of them revolving around holidays, food and going to the mountains. As a kid, my brother and I looked forward to our annual summer pilgrimage out of the sweltering city. We would head to the Catskill mountains where we spent the summer in a little Swiss chalet, near a crystal clear lake, surrounded by trees. It was bucolic and very Rockwellian. My parents weren't into hiking, but we did go swimming in the lake, learned to fish and had BBQs a regular basis-- so there was a lot of time spent outdoors.
Now we don't have a summer cabin in the Rocky mountains (at least not yet, so here's to hoping!), but we've started our own springtime-summertime tradition; namely family hikes around the Denver-metro area.
My husband's jobs doesn't exactly have many perks, but there's one thing about his job that's great-- he's allowed to work a concentrated work week (four- 10 hour days) and that means he's got Mondays off. And on that day, we all go hiking. 
In the past month we've hiked trails in Red Rocks, Roxborough State Park, Eldorado Canyon and Dinosaur Ridge. This week we decided to push ourselves and do a 3 mile hike with the boys in Castlewood Canyon. It's part of the state park system (get the pass if you think you'll be using the state parks a lot this summer) and I can't believe it was under my radar for this long! Castlewood Canyon is gorgeous. 

The main gate is only 50 minutes away from our home in Denver, so it's the perfect day trip. There are paved trails that hug the canyon rim, but dirt trails take you into the canyon. There are bridges to cross and magnificent views of a running river, which is flanked by enormous boulders, pine trees and wild flowers. Did I mention that we also saw tons of turkey vultures flying around the canyon?!
At the very end of the hike we were rewarded with spectacular views of the Colorado Rockies. It was just one of those days that made me think, "I can't believe I get to live here!" 
And this is definitely one of my favorite new family traditions (which I hope will be passed on from generation to generation)...
Our trail: A to K to L.
Duration: About 2 1/2 hours.
The boys: Loved the water, skipping rocks, and crossing bridges.