Mt Goliath Research Natural Area is located three miles south of Echo Lake on the Mt. Evans road and a short 35-mile-drive from Denver. This 160-acre area is home to over 250 species of alpine and subalpine wildflowers as well as a grove of bristlecone pines that is over 1,500 years old. A trail through this area was established in 1962 in a joint venture between the Denver Botanic Gardens and the U.S. Forest Service. It begins in a subalpine plant zone at 11,540 feet and extends up into alpine tundra at 12,152 feet. It is accessible from both the nature center at the bottom and from the Mount Evans Road at the top, although parking for the latter is more restricted. Extensive use by the public had caused sections of this trail to fall into disrepair and few guided tours were offered in the early years.
In 1996, the Garden Club of Denver joined in the partnership between Denver Botanic Gardens and the U.S. Forest Service. Members worked with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado to make trail improvements, which they also helped fund. We helped organize training sessions for docents so that the Denver Botanic Gardens was able to set up tri-weekly tours of the trail during the summer months. The Garden Club also prepared wildflower brochures identifying many of the alpine plants and herbaria sheets classifying the native wildflowers. In a more recent project, members joined DBG staff in collecting alpine wildflower and grass seeds from the natural areas above the Nature Center and helped in the reseeding of the incline below the new parking lot.
The Garden Club of Denver provided seed money to make corporate and foundation appeals, and was also awarded $5000 from the Founder’s Fund of the Garden Club of America. The club raised funds that helped in the planning and construction of a rock-and-timber structure, which houses an interpretive exhibit for conservation education at Mt. Goliath. The Dos Chappell Nature Center – named for the late founder and a driving spirit of Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado — contains excellent exhibits on plant adaptation to the harsh environments of the sub-alpine and alpine tundra. The total amount of financial support GCD provided for this project was over $43,000.
The Garden Club of Denver is extremely proud of its work on the Mount Goliath Nature Center and Research Area. It provides an important outdoor experience and education for many visitors, many of whom might not otherwise find themselves in this extraordinary but fragile alpine environment.
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