Beaver Brook Watershed

Rocky outcropping looking over a lake in the Beaver brook watershed.

Beaver Brook Watershed Overview

Most of the trails in this area are not officially named, so some of the names that I have used for the paths are due to where they connect, or what notable features are located on them. The names given to the lesser traveled trails are merely for the sake of easier navigation and explanation. That being said this area is best visited with a GPS if you want to take some of the lesser traveled side trails as it is easy to get turned around. There are small paths and old logging roads traversing the area some leading to other trails, some leading to subdivisions and others to views of the watershed or abrupt endings in the forest.

Precautions

Please take extra caution when hiking in this area, there is a lot more wildlife and a lot fewer hikers and mountain bikers if you need assistance. The area is a beautiful lush forest that is in many places overtaking the trails and roads that traverse the area. It is very likely that you will see deer, elk and the occasional wild turkey sauntering through the forest doing the nature thing. Most of the trails are rather steep and many are quite long. Lastly come prepared for rapid changes in weather and let others know where you are going and when you plan to return.

15.5 Miles of trails

Park Details:

  • Hiking allowed
  • Mountain Biking allowed
  • Snowshoeing allowed
  • Cross country skiing allowed
  • Centaurs errr…. Equestrian
  • Picnicking
  • Dogs are allowed as long as they are on a leash
  • Motorized vehicles are not allowed
  • No shooting allowed
  • Camping allowed with a permit
  • Fishing allowed but you may need a permit
  • Area usage is one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset
  • Neither you nor your animals are allowed in the water
  • No Entrance fees

Emergency contacts:

Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office @ (303) 569-3232

Clear Creek County Sherriff’s Office @ (303) 679-2376

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map:

Alternate Route

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance 1.1 Miles
Time NeededAbout 2 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Hidden Wilderness, and Flat top trail
  • Trail is hard to see at the top
  • Decent tree cover
  • Easy to follow for most of the trail

Trailhead directions: East parking lot | S – Beaver Brook Trail | R – Hidden Wilderness | L- Alternate Route

Trail Highlights:

  • Lush wetland area at top

Review:

You can access this trail from the Hidden Wilderness trail in three locations. The first junction is about 1.2 miles in and, just before the Hidden Wilderness trailheads to the west. The Alternate Route trail will be a well-defined trail leading up the hill to the West. Your second opportunity to join this trail comes as a very short spur trail running south southeast about 0.8 miles further along the Hidden Wilderness trail and again is well traveled and fairly easy to spot. The final upper junction is not so much a junction, as a wander through the woods, and takes some navigation through forest growth to find from the Hidden Wilderness trail. If you have reached the wetland area near the creek from the lower section of the Hidden Wilderness trail, you will want to cross the ravine where the creek runs, and hike up the hill a few hundred yards. You will find an overgrown logging trail that can marginally be followed as it passes over the wetlands area to the southeast and rejoins the trail. The upper portion of the trail is rock strewn and the forest is currently passionately taking the trail over again. For ease of navigation I suggest you take the .gpx files for the area and download them to your phone or a GPS unit. Most of the trail is wide and very easy to follow. It is only the upper section that is difficult to navigate, also expect s fair amount of sun exposure on the trail. The trail if hiked from the first terminus is gentle then becomes somewhat steep, but not overly grueling.

Beaver Brook Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)7 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance2.9 miles
Time NeededAbout 90 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Hidden Wilderness, Mushroom Trail, and Upper west Junction trail
  • Trail is steep in places
  • Mostly exposed trail
  • Starts at both parking areas

Trailhead directions: Starts at either parking area

Trail Highlights:

  • Creek and Creek Crossings
  • Beautiful Meadow views

Review:

This old logging/pipeline road serves as the starting point to the other adventurous trails that await you within the watershed. The path is moderately steep from both parking areas, but flattens out for about a half mile stretch as you reach the valley floor. The trail meanders along Beaver brook for a good portion of the hike as it runs down into the reservoir, and there are a couple very minor crossings along the way from small tributaries. The lush grasses that flank the more southern portion of the trail is a great place to spot the occasional deer or elk. The trail is rather wide for most of the trek so exposure may be more of an issue on this trail than some of the other hikes in this area.   

Beaver Brook Reservoir Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)8
Distance0.3 Miles
Time NeededAbout 10 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Beaver Brook Trail
  • Easy terrain with slight elevations changes
  • Mostly exposed trail

Trailhead directions: East Parking Area | S – Beaver Brook Trail | R – Beaver Brook Reservoir Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Beautiful view of the reservoir
  • Amazing views of the saddle for Santa Fe Mountain and Squaw Mountain

Review:

This short trail will not disappoint, the views are some of the best in the park, and there are some spectacular views to be had in this area. The lower fork leads down to the reservoir and the upper fork leads to an outcropping that will have you staring off into the wilderness in awe. There were several little deer trails darting off here and there from the upper fork, I did not meander down those paths as most of them looked rather short and not well trodden. In all honesty the views on this slight trail make it my favorite in the park with the Overlook trail being a very close second.

East Overlook

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)8
Distance1.3 Miles
Time NeededAbout 25 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Hidden Wilderness trail
  • Easy trail to hike
  • Decent tree cover
  • Out and Back
  • Gradual elevation change

Trailhead directions: East parking area | S – Beaver Brook trail | R – Hidden Wilderness trail | R – East Overlook

Trail Highlights:

  • Fantastic views
  • Starts at a beautiful meadow

Review:

The beginning of this trail starts just off the Hidden Wilderness trail and juts off to the east through a meadow clearing. The trail regains the cover of trees again about half a mile in and never has a lot of elevation change. The trail is easy to follow and will lead you down to a rock outcropping before abruptly disappearing into the forest below. If you head in a southerly direction into the forest for a short distance from here, you will come to a beautiful rock outcropping overlooking the valley below all the way out to I-70. This is a really great trail and is not too demanding, although the hike to this location has some decent hills to climb.

Overlook on the East side of the Beaver Brook watershed.
Overlook

Elk Way Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)6 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance0.4 miles
Time NeededAbout 8 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Upper west Junction, and Logging trail Loop
  • Steady rise up to a subdivision
  • Mother Nature is taking back parts of this trail

Trailhead directions: West parking area | S – Beaver Brook | L- Upper West Junction Trail | R – Elk Way

Trail Highlights:

  • Creek Crossing

Review:

This trail is wide, rocky and easy to follow for most of the trek up the hill. Once you reach the meadow the trail narrows down to a narrow path before widening a little and starting to climb again, for a short stretch until you reach a cul-de-sac for a neighborhood. The trail is mostly forested and dense, in fact in places you may need to dodge trees that have leaned over into the path to reach for sunny areas. There is another small path at the top near the cul-de-sac behind the wooden fence like structure that quickly fades into the forest.

Flat Top Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)6 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)7
Distance 0.6 Miles
Time NeededAbout 16 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Alternate Route
  • Easy to follow trail
  • Moderate tree cover
  • Trail can be somewhat steep

Trailhead directions: East parking area | S – Beaver Brook trail | R – Hidden Wilderness | L – Alternate Route | L – Flat Top Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Large flat area at the top
  • Good views of the valley below
Dense foliage on one of the trails in the Beaver Brook Watershed
Beaver Brook Watershed

Review:

This trail is wide with a large amount of lose rock like many of the others in the area, and somewhat steep for most of the trek up the hill. At the end of the trail there is a small plateau area that offers some decent views of the valley below. Expect a fair amount of exposure due to the width of the trail, and clearing at the end.

Hidden Wilderness

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)10 (Difficult)
Views Rank (1 – 10)8
Distance4.8 Miles
Time NeededAbout 150 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Beaver Brook, Alternate Route, East Overlook
  • Trail is very steep
  • Navigation is difficult at time as the trail disappears into the new forest growth
  • Dense pine forest
  • Out and back

Trailhead directions: East parking area S – Beaver Brook | R – Hidden Wilderness

Trail Highlights:

  • Great views of Mount Evans when you rejoin the trail
  • Run down A Frame house
  • Creek
Cabin ruins along the Hidden Wilderness trail within the Beaver Brook Watershed.
Cabin ruins

Review:

This is by far the most adventurous trail in the area, and a GPS of some sort is a good idea on this “trail”. You will start off on a large well defined road that turns right onto a narrow trail leading down a tree cleared path. As the trail begins to climb and veer to the West you will come to a clearing where the “jeep trail” begins to climb a valley. You can either make a path through the trees, or make the creek crossing and head up the wider easier to follow trail on the southwest side of the creek. The trail becomes impossible to follow on either side of the valley a little farther up, and you will need to blaze your own path up the hill. The Southwestern side of the trail has several old log cabins that Mother Nature is quickly dismantling, and if you choose to follow the northeastern side of the valley there are glimpses of the trail here and there as you climb. I found it easiest to somewhat follow the gas pipeline signs on the Northeast side of the valley as I headed up the hill. After a vigorous climb you will be at 10300 feet and there will be a very wide road to follow. From here directly ahead there will be amazing views of Mount Evans with nothing between you and one of the more notable peaks in Colorado. As you begin to descend the hill you will come to an A frame house that has seen better days. I stopped and had lunch here, there was no wait, no service, but the open atmosphere was invigorating, and the granola bar and water hit the spot after the steep climb. If you continue the trail down the hill you will soon come to a subdivision filled with cabins and homes.

Little Bear Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)3 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance0.1 miles
Time NeededAbout 3 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Overlook Trail
  • More of an access trail from Little Bear Creek rd. than a trail
  • Easy to hike trail
  • Well forested

Trailhead directions: There is a small pull over area off Little Bear Creek Rd.

Trail Highlights:

  • Wide easy to follow trail

Review:

This trail section is very short, but I would like to state it only looks that way due to how I split the trails up. After you have traveled the short length from Little Bear Creek Rd. down the trail all of 0.1 miles the trail branches off to the east and west. The West leads out to the overlook and the East trail leads into the interior of the park, and will later connect with the Beaver Brook trail that connects both parking areas, after a trail connection with Logging trail loop that is.

Logging Trail Loop

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance1.1 miles
Time NeededAbout 22 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Overlook trail, Elk Way, Upper West Junction Trail
  • Easy trail to hike
  • Wide well-traveled path

Trailhead: You could park off Little Bear Creek Rd. | R or L On logging trail Loop

Trail Highlights:

  • Dense forest
  • Mother Nature is taking parts of this trail back

Review:

This trail begins at the junction with the Elk Way Rd. trail and will be the path that continues up the hill more straight ahead (West). The trail also meets back in almost the same area on a much narrower fairly well concealed path. The trail quickly narrows down and continues up the valley, until you reach a small creek crossing followed by a very steep rise to a well-defined and much more traveled logging road.

Mushroom Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)4
Distance0.9 miles
Time NeededAbout 20 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Beaver Brook Trail
  • Out and back to a pull off on Highway 103
  • Short and easy
  • Strong tree cover

Trailhead directions: East Parking area | S – Beaver Brook trail | L – Mushroom trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Dense forest
  • Creek

Review:

The Lewis creek flows along this trail for about a half mile before the path forks, The trail leading more southwest leads to a creek crossing and a very overgrow trail that I have not followed up the hill. The other side the southeasterly trail leads up to a small pull off area on Highway 103. The forest is very thick in here and if a rain storm suddenly appeared as they sometimes do in this area, I scarcely think you would feel a drop of rain through the thick tree cover. The trail is covered in a thick bed of pine needles and the trail begins to fade as you near the highway. As one would assume from the name the trail has an overabundance of mycelia growing on the side of the trail and very often right in the center. There were at least 10 distinctly different mushrooms along the trail the last time I passed through this area of the park.

Overlook Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)3 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)8
Distance0.7 miles
Time NeededAbout 13 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail:
  • Easy trail
  • Mostly forested

Trailhead directions: You could park off Little Bear Creek Rd. | S – Little Bear Trail | R – Overlook Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Debris hut with an amazing view of the area

Review:

This trail starts off as a well-defined logging road and continues to hold that standard until you reach some of the smaller branch trails. All of the paths that I followed faded away into the forest, and one led to a rather large debris hut with some million dollar views of the watershed below. There is a smaller trail that branches off to the north about 0.5 miles down that looked like it looped back towards where the logging trail loop junction is on my GPS, but it quickly turned into an act of navigating back to the overlook trail.

Saddleback Mountain Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)8 (Difficult)
Views Rank (1 – 10)10
Distance0.8 miles
Time NeededAbout 45 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: None
  • Short very steep trail
  • Decent tree cover
  • Not accessible from other trails in the park

Trailhead directions: Very small parking area on Saddle Ridge Rd.

Trail Highlights:

Great views of the surrounding mountains

Review:

With over 800 feet of elevation gain is less than a mile; this trek up the side of the mountain will have you stopping along the way to take in the scene and catch your breath. At roughly a quarter of a mile in there is a split in the trail and you will have two options as you continue your climb to the summit. Both paths lead to the same amazing views so you can take one up and the other down for a change of scenery. Aside from a couple patches along the trail there is a good amount of strong tree cover, and there is a thick aspen grove on the south side of the mountain. That being said the summit is just over 9500 feet in elevation so if there is bad weather moving in; it would be a good idea to head down the hill to avoid being a lightning rod.

This trail is part of the Beaver Brook Watershed, but does not have any connecting trails to the main two parking lots. There is a separate parking lot that can hold three cars if everyone gets that parking thing down. To get to the parking lot take I-70 west then take Exit 248. Take Highway 40 West along I-70 until you get to Homestead Rd, which passes over to the other side of I-70. Next take a right on Hyland Dr., followed by a right on Ponderosa Dr. You will them make a right on Aspen Dr. then take a slight right on Saddle Ridge Rd. Continue following Saddle Ridge Rd. until you spot the small parking area on the left hand side of the road at the crux of a very sharp switchback.

Upper West Junction

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)6 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance1.5 miles
Time NeededAbout 30 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail:
  • Mostly dense forest
  • Follows a creek

Trailhead directions: West Parking Area | Beaver Brook Trail | R – Upper West Junction (about 1.3 miles down)

Trail Highlights:

  • Creek views
  • Lush forest

Review:

The trail is a steady rise as you follow the small creek that rolls down the mountain valley. There is ample opportunity to view wild life on this trail and all the others in the park due to the area being less traveled by hikers and mountain bikers. There are some very large wild turkeys in the area which may throw you for a loop the first time you see them, but they are pretty secretive and tend to stick to the tree line most of the time. The end of this section of trail meets at a clearing with three wider trails and a smaller trail. The trail to the right will have an immediate creek crossing and lead to a subdivision. (Elk Way is the road it leads to.) The more strait on path is Logging trail loop which starts as a decent rise and leads to a creek crossing and a very steep climb to meet the logging road, which if you take a left on loops down to the trail junction.

All the information listed in this post is also available in an E-book which can be purchased from Amazon. Please consider purchasing a copy, or one of the other outdoor guides we have available!

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