WALKS ON THE WILD SIDE~ Slow down and smell the flowers…..
Summer In the Valley, 2017 Hikes


Since moving to the Wet Mountain Valley in 2001, Valley naturalist and native plant specialist, Christina MacLeod, has been sharing her wealth of knowledge and passion for Colorado native plants with both local residents and summer visitors. Her popular wildflower hikes have “blossomed” since then.  She is quick to point out that “One of the most valued treasures of our Valley is the beauty of our mountain landscape and the diversity of our abundant plant life here.” This year’s spring moisture has set the stage for a most colorful wildflower season.

Christina is a certified Native Plant Master with a passionate interest in native landscape ecology and conservation. She teaches with the Custer County CSU Extension and annually at the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival, is an active member of the Colorado Native Plant Society and the High Altitude Garden Club here in Westcliffe. She is a botanical consultant for the San Isabel Land Protection Trust and a former member of the Custer County Weed Advisory Board. Her special expertise in medicinal plants has evolved from her professional career as an acupuncture practitioner using both Chinese and Western herbs as well as flower essences in her clinical practice. She has studied plant medicines in the Sierras of California, Alaska, the Sonoran deserts of Arizona and Mexico, Belize, Costa Rica, and Colorado. Under the name Rocky Mountain Nativescapes, Christina offers private educational opportunities for individual landowners new to the Valley, to learn about their land and how to best manage and protect it for generations to come. She is an avid writer and posts inspiring pieces on this website.

A series of easy wildflower hikes is on tap for the 2017 summer season. Each hike is planned around the current array of plants in bloom, offering participants the opportunity to learn about plant ecology and communities as well as pollinators, herbal lore and contemporary healing uses, survival foods, and landscape ideas. Included this year will also be a brief stop for sketching, photography or quiet reflection.

Spend a leisurely morning viewing native species and come away refreshed. Wild Iris, Shooting Star, Mariposa Lily, and Horsemint are waiting. Creekside orchids, Monkshood and Colorado Columbine are also commonly seen. The hikes are a one-to-two mile “amble”, within an easy drive of Westcliffe and trails are easily accessible for most hiking abilities. Visitors can join one of these popular hikes for a memorable half-day in nature. Bring an optional small notebook, sketch pad or camera. Wear sturdy shoes, long pants, and a hat. Water, snacks and sunscreen are highly recommended.

Groups are limited to 10 participants, so pre-registration is necessary. Children 15 and under must be accompanied by an adult. These hikes are not suitable for children under 10, and pets need to remain at home. Hikers meet at the north parking area of Veterans Memorial Park on Hermit Road in Westcliffe at 8:15am. Departure will be promptly at 8:30am, returning to town in time for lunch. Check with the weekly Wet Mountain Tribune for hike updates. A suggested $20 donation is requested.

Contact Christina for additional information and registration 719-371-1315 or by email at skyedarter@gmail.com


RETURNING to Custer County: Colorado Native Plant Master® Class–THESE CLASSES HAVE BEEN CANCELLED FOR 2017.
July 8 (optional Botany review), 22, 29 and August 5, 2017

The award-winning Colorado Native Plant Master ® Progam is returning to Custer County. Spend four Saturday mornings with NPM® trainer Christina MacLeod diving deeply into the native plant kingdom. In addition to learning the key characteristics of our most abundant native plant families and species, the course will cover basic botany, non-native invasive species management, and sustainable landscape suggestions for plants specific to our mountain ecosystems. It’s a fun class packed with information so important for your role as steward of your land.

Details, cost, books and registration are available ONLY through the CSU Extension Office in Custer County. Contact Robin Young, Extension Director, at 719-783-2514.


CRESTED BUTTE WILDFLOWER FESTIVAL~I will not be teaching at the Festival in 2017.
July 10-16, 2017

Wildflower meadow

.Registration is managed online only by the Crested Butte Wildflower Festival. Click on the link for a full schedule of their week-long schedule of  activities usually available in early April.







You must be logged in to leave a reply.