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Raton Points of Interest: Sugarite

by Patrick Garza

Being from Houston, Texas, I am used to urban sprawl. If I wanted to find true nature, I would have to drive at least an hour and a half, but that is not the case here in Raton. Located a hop, skip, and a jump away from Raton (ten minutes), there is a beautiful natural getaway, Sugarite Canyon State Park. Never in my life, before moving to Raton, had I seen a mountain. Now I am surrounded by them at Sugarite!

Sugarite Canyon Trail

Sugarite Canyon (Photo by Patrick Garza)

While ascending the road that led to the canyon wonderland, my ears were actually popping. Am I in an airplane? Of course not. Climbing to the park’s 6,950 feet elevation, we passed Lake Alice and I took note that it was probably a good spot to fish, but today’s agenda was hiking.

Stepping out of the car near Lake Maloya, I couldn’t help but be in awe. The lake, pristine with fish jumping several feet in the air. The wind roaring loudly, it sounds like a busy freeway in the city. The leaves slowly fade from green to reds, oranges, and yellows–a sight that I’m not used to seeing back home in Texas during the fall season.

My friend Alex and I chose to hike the Lake Maloya Trail, which wraps around the lake’s western side, leading to Lake Dorothy in Colorado. We explored and took in the scenery watching people fish along the banks of the lake. My friend pointed a paw print out in the mud. Could it have been that of a mountain lion coming to the shore for a drink?

Sugarite Canyon State Park (Photos by Patrick Garza)

As we passed through the autumn colors, we couldn’t help but notice the ruins of trees, decimated by previous wildfires. Although the area has seemed to have mostly recovered, it is crazy to me how nature has a way of healing itself. As a self-proclaimed city-slicker, every time a bush rustled, I thought it was a mountain lion or a bear. Hopefully soon I’ll feel safer and right at home in these woods. The hiking trail curved to follow the lake and we crossed a little wooden bridge crossing a literal babbling brook! How cool is that?

The moral of my experience and story is don’t take for granted what you have in your own backyard. Go for a hike, fish, take your bike, or even your horse to Sugarite Canyon State Park. With many fun things to do, ditch your electronics for one day, and have fun with your whole family in the vastness of bountiful beauty.

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