Bald Mountain

Overview

Bald Mountain is a fitting name for this little park perched on the top of a mountain, as the peak is nearly bare of trees. The winding drive up the mountain side makes for a great drive and the trail offers the perfect place to stretch your legs. After hiking the one trail in this park the best thing to do is enjoy a picnic on one of the lovely picnic areas. This park is very close to Boulder, however you should not find it to be overly crowded. 

1 Mile of Trail

Park Details:

  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking 
  • Centaurs Equestrians
  • Dogs are allowed on a leash
  • Open Sunrise to Sunset
  • Picnicking
  • Hunting is not allowed
  • Weapons are not forbidden
  • Camping is not permitted
  • Drinking or drug use is not allowed
  • No entrance fees

Emergency contacts:

Boulder County Ranger District @ (303) 541-2500

Boulder Parks and Open Space @ (303) 678-6200

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map:

Free downloadable maps are available from Boulder County Parks. You can also use the GPX files to help plan your next adventure in the Rocky Mountains. 

View from Bald Mountain near Boulder Colorado
View from Bald Mountain

Pines to Peak Loop

Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank1 Mile
Time Needed25 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: This is the only trail in the park
  • Moderately steep
  • Can be very windy

Trailhead:Starts at the parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of the mountains all around
  • Views of Boulder

Review:

Being only one mile and somewhat of a drive to get to you may be tempted to skip this little trail and wee park. I would caution you not to miss out on this trail, perhaps you can bring along a lunch and have a lovely little hike and a picnic at one of the many table very near the parking lot. The trail is not too difficult at any spot on the trail, but does have a decent climb in a few spots. A large portion of the park and surrounding area was burnt in a fire. The remaining house on the mountains adjacent to the park stand out. From the top you can see for miles into the distant peaks and valleys, and right down on Boulder below to the east. It is truly worth the time it takes to drive up here.

Hall Ranch

All along the Front Range you will find amazing parks to hike, picnic, mountain bike and horse ride in, and Hall Ranch is no exception. The 11.8 miles of trails are demanding at times, but suitable for most skill and endurance levels. The views from the trail will inspire you to adventure further into the mountains and experience the wonders of the Rocky Mountains.  The main parking area of the park is large, with several restrooms and great covered picnic areas, but keep in mind this park can easily fill up in the summer months. 

Wildflowers and Rocky Mountains
Wildflowers and Rocky Mountains

11.8 miles of trails on this guide

Park Details:

  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking on some trails
  • Centaurs Equestrians on most trails
  • Dogs are not allowed in this park
  • Open Sunrise to Sunset
  • Picnicking
  • Hunting is not permitted
  • Weapons are prohibited
  • Camping is not allowed
  • Drinking or drug use are not allowed
  • No entrance fees

Emergency contacts:

Boulder County Ranger District @ (303) 541-2500

Boulder Parks and Open Spaces @ (303) 678-6200

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map

Free downloadable maps are available from Boulder County  .You can also use the GPX files to help plan your next adventure in the Rocky Mountains. 

Nighthawk Trail:

Difficulty Rank6 (Moderate)
Views Rank8
Distance Rank4.7 Miles
Time Needed180 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Bitterbrush trail, Button Rock trail, Nelson loop
  • Mostly exposed hiking
  • Centaur Equestrian and Hiker only

Trailhead: Starts at the parking area

Trail Highlights:

  • Grand views of the northern Front Range
  • Great views of red rock mesa near the parking area
  • Very beautiful area

Review:

The views all along this trail seem to go from great to outstanding the further along this trail you hike. The trail starts out relatively flat and begins a steady 1200 plus foot climb as you walk past endless natural beauty. There is not a lot in the way of tree cover along the trail so come prepared for the sun. It is worth keeping in mind that if combined with bitterbrush trail you are looking at a solid eight and a half plus mile hike, and if you run this trail out and back you are looking at a good nine plus miles of pure hiking enjoyment..

Nelson Loop Trail

Rocky Mountain Farm house in Hall Ranch
Rocky Mountain Farm house
Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank2.4 Miles
Time Needed1 Hour

Details:

  • Connecting Trails:Nighthawk and Bitterbrush trails
  • Fairly flat hike
  • Partially treed

Trailhead:S-Nighthawk or Bitterbrush trail | R or L – Nelson Loop

Trail Highlights:

  • Old farm buildings
  • Very nice wooden bridge

Review:

There is a very cool old farm house along the trail abandoned by the habitation of man for some time now. The trail has little in the way of elevation change and little tree cover. From the looks of the trail combined with my ability to look into the nether, I would say that a band of fairies have been collecting the dead fall from the trees and gathering them up to build their homes from. This is most likely reason for the areas intense beauty and continual sense of euphoria while hiking in the area.  

Bitterbrush Trail

Difficulty Rank6 (Moderate)
Views Rank5
Distance Rank3.7 Miles
Time Needed80 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Antelope trail, Nelson Loop, and Nighthawk trail
  • Mostly exposed hiking
  • Steep in places
  • Very rocky in places
  • Would be a technical ride

Trailhead: Starts at the parking area

Trail Highlights:

  • Great views

Review:

While there are some great views along the trail, the first portion of the trail is slightly easier on the eyes. The trail starts from the very nice parking and picnicking area and swings out around the towering mesa to the north. When you reach the junction with Antelope trail there is a nice bike station that should help you take care of any bike related issues you may have developed along the trail. The hike is steep in places, but the trail is easy to follow and is well marked.

Antelope Trail

Beautiful Mountain View on Antelope Canyon Trail in Hall Ranch
Beautiful Mountain View on Antelope Canyon Trail
Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank1.0 Miles
Time Needed22 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Bitterbrush trail
  • Mostly exposed hike

Trailhead: Starts at parking area of Antelope Dr.

Trail Highlights:

  • Great Mountain and valley views

Review:

This trail is best hiked in from the small parking area off of Antelope Dr. The trail is short and exposed almost the entire way, but if you are hiking in the earlier part of the day the large mesa to the south of the trail will likely diffuse most of the sunlight. There is a rather nice bike station at the trail junction with bitterbrush trail and a bench to take a rest before you start the rest of your trek into the park. This trail is a great option if you are looking to jump on Nelson Loop and see the old farmhouse, but don’t have the time to take one of the longer hikes in.

Mount Falcon Park

Overview

Mount Falcon is a staple hiking area for my family, and its close proximity to Denver makes it a popular place to hike when you find yourself shambling through the south west metro area. Being so close to Denver means this park is very busy, so if you are hiking or mountain biking on the weekend here there is a strong possibility there will be no where to park.

Stone walls of Castle in Mount Falcon
Stone walls of Castle in Mount Falcon

Mount Falcon area is home to the walker family house ruins along with the ruins that were to one day be a summer retreat for the president of the United States. There are ample parking spaces at both lots, and the west lot houses several picnic areas great for family outings. You will be pleasantly surprised when you use the restroom facilities at this park as they are pit toilets but there is not even the slightest hint of odor, and are very clean. There are many trails within the park with something suitable for all skill levels. Castle trail and Parmalee trails are by far the most popular with mountain bikers.

12.2 Miles of Trails

Park Details:

  • Dogs are allowed but must be leashed.
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Centaurs Equestrians
  • There are ample picnic areas at the west parking lot.
  • There is only 1 picnic table at the East parking lot.
  • There are clean restrooms at both parking lots that emit zero odor.
  • Upper trails can easily be accessed from the west entrance for shorter hikes.
  • The dirt roads leading to the smaller trails are well grated.
  • All of the trails are well marked and easy to follow.
  • Park hours are one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset
  • Camping is not allowed in the park
  • Hunting or firearms are not allowed
  • No Entrance fees

Emergency contacts:

Jefferson County Sheriff’s office @ (303) 277-0211

Quick Reference Map

A static version of the map can be downloaded to your phone from Jefferson County Parks

You can also use the free GPX files to help plan your next trip.

Castle Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)7 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)8
Distance 3.8 miles
Time NeededAbout 1 Hour 45 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Turkey Trot trail, Meadows trail, Walkers Dream, Two Dogs trail, Tower trail, and Parmalee trails
  • Bring plenty of water and protection from the sun.
  • Strong elevation change
  • Limited tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Either parking area

Trailhead directions: Starts at both parking areas

Trail Highlights:

  • There are many chances for epic photos with Denver on the horizon.
  • Expansive views of the Front Range
  • Walker mansion ruins

Review:

The castle trail is a steep point to point trail that is heavily trafficked by both hikers and mountain bikers, and occasionally by centaurs… equestrians. With great views of the Denver metro area, Red Rocks Park and the Front Range. Combine all this with its close proximity to Denver it’s no surprise this is a very popular trail. A majority of the trail is exposed with little tree cover so the use of sunscreen and a hat is advised. The trail is commonly started from the East parking lot heading west bound to the castle ruins at the summit. This is particularly true of mountain bikers looking for a great downhill ride after a brisk workout. Once you reach the upper park loop there are several other shorter hikes available that could easily be combined to turn this hike into a daylong adventure.

Devil’s Elbow Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)8
Distance 1.1 miles
Time NeededAbout 21 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Old Ute trail.
  • Minimal elevation change over the course of the hike
  • Partially treed
  • Closest parking area: West lot

Trailhead directions: S-Castle trail | R-Meadow Trail | R-Old Ute Trail | Devil’s Elbow Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Great views of Denver
  • Very green even in winter
  • Not as crowded as the other hikes in the park
  • OneSunChasers favorite trail in this park

Review:

Devil’s Elbow is a loop with a great view just off the Old Ute Trail. The beginning of the trail is a descent which levels out and leads you back to some of the more secluded areas of the park. Near the easternmost side of the loop you will have many great photo opportunities as well as within the dense forest hike on the north side back toward the connection to the Old Ute Trail. There is not a lot in the way of elevation change on this trail, but there are some decent ups and downs

Old Ute Trail

Difficulty Rank ( 1 – 10)3 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)2
Distance 0.5 miles
Time NeededAbout 11 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Meadows trail, and Devil’s Elbow trail
  • Minimal elevation change
  • Mostly treed
  • Closest parking area: West lot

Trailhead directions: S-Castle trail | R-Meadow Trail | Old Ute Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Can easily be incorporated into longer looping trails.

Review:

This trail offers a good mix of up and down hill walking and mountain biking that is suitable to all skill levels. Views pale in comparison to the surrounding trails which all seem to offer a unique view of different mountain and flat land scenery. This trail connects to several others in the area and is essential to reaching some of the more scenic views the park has to offer.

Meadow Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)2 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance 0.8 miles
Time NeededAbout 16 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Castle trail, Old Ute trail Tower trail and Parmalee trails
  • Gradual elevations changes
  • Partially treed
  • Closest parking area: West lot

Trailhead directions: S-Castle Trail | R-Meadow Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • View of mountain meadows.
  • Abundance of birds
Mountain Prairie in Mount Falcon Park
Mountain Prairie

Review:

The Meadows trail is a very easy and popular as it connects several of the other trails with the help of the Castle trail. The terrain is flat with little elevation change and is suitable for all skill levels. This trail is mostly exposed with tree covering on only a small portion of the loop. Reaching the trail is a breeze. If you are starting at the west parking lot, begin the hike down the castle trail until you reach a meadow trail. Take the tower trail south until you reach the trees and the Meadows trail will be the east trail as the trees begin to populate both sides of the trail. Signage within the park is very good so you should have no problem finding the trail.

Parmalee Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)4
Distance 2.3 miles
Time NeededAbout 1 Hour 13 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Meadows trail, Tower trail and Castle trails
  • Moderate and occasionally steep elevation change
  • Partially treed
  • Closest parking area: West lot

Trailhead directions: S-Castle Trail | R-Parmalee Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Abundance of wildlife
  • Excellent views of US 285

Review:

The Parmalee loop is a very popular hike in the Mount Falcon area, boasting moderate elevation change and diverse scenery. Excellent bird’s eye views of the 285 canyon make this a must hike trail for most skill levels. The trailheads are located near the restrooms at the west parking lot and about the middle of the Meadows trail. A majority of the wildlife tends to congregates in the western portion of the trail, where you are likely to come across entire herds of deer that seem to not to be concerned with the presence of people. There is a fair amount of tree cover throughout the hike so sun exposure is not a big issue, but if you are hiking in colder times of the year there may be snow and ice present long after the last snow fall, depending on temperatures.

Tower Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10) 2 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)4
Distance 0.7 miles
Time NeededAbout 15 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Meadows trail, Castle trail, and Parmalee trails
  • Nominal elevation change
  • Partially treed
  • Closest parking area: West lot

Trailhead directions: S-Castle Trail | R-Meadow Trail | L-Tower Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Watch tower that allows for 360 degree views of the surrounding area.

Review:

This is a short easy hike that brings you to a small watch tower at the top of a hill that will afford great views of the surrounding mountains. Aside from the watch tower there are not a lot of points on this trail that will stick in the mind, however, peering out into the distant mountain ranges is quite nice from the extra height of the tower. If you happen to be in the park near sunset this is a great place to take in the amazing display of colors as the clouds turns crimson in the setting sun.

Turkey Trot Trail

View of Red Rocks Amphitheater from the Turkey Trot Trail in Mount Falcon Park.
Red Rocks Amphitheater from Turkey Trot Trail.
Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance 1.7 miles
Time NeededAbout 37 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Castle trail
  • This is a hiker only trail.
  • Decent elevation change at time but well spread out
  • Partially treed
  • Closest parking area: East lot

Trailhead directions: S-Castle Trail | R-Turkey Trot Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Great views of Denver
  • Great views of Red Rocks

Review:

Turkey Trot trail is accessible from the east parking lot shortly after you start Castle trail. You can either choose to follow the Castle Trail up the mountain side for some spectacular views of the Red Rocks area and out on to Denver, or you can jump right on the Turkey Trot trail near the beginning of the Castle Trail. While neither side makes for an especially steep hike, jumping on the Turkey Trot trail and taking the Castle Trail down would definitely be a lighter workout. There is less than 1000 feet in elevation gain for the entire loop.

Two Dogs Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)7
Distance0.3 miles
Time NeededAbout 6 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Castle trail
  • Minimal elevation change
  • Partially treed
  • Closest parking area: West lot

Trailhead directions: S-Castle Trail | C-Castle trail | R-Two Dogs Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Grand views of the Denver area

Review:

There is not much to this hike but there is a lot to the views. Don’t overlook this gem if you are spending the day hiking in the Mount Falcon area. The trail starts off of the Castle trail once you make the summit if you are coming from the east parking lot, or right before the main decent if you are coming from the west parking lot (top). While there is a decent uphill climb on the trail it is very short and should be easy to navigate for most hikers. Bring a camera along as the views of Denver and the surrounding area make this little trail worth the extra effort.

Walker’s Dream Trail

Memorial and ruins of the house that was to be a gift to the president of the United States of America
Ruins at Mount Falcon
Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)3 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)9
Distance0.4 miles
Time NeededAbout 7 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Castle trail
  • Minor elevation change
  • Light tree cover
  • Closest parking area: West lot

Trailhead directions: Castle Trail | C-Castle Trail | L-Walkers Dream Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Grand views of the Denver area
  • Grand views of the Front Range
  • A look at the ruins of what was to be a presidential retreat

Review:

Easy access to this short trail is gained just off of Castle trail before you start the main descent to the east parking lot. Panoramic beauty surrounds you as you look off at the distant skyline of Denver to the east. But to the west it’s hard not to let the awe inspiring natural beauty of the foothills steal the thunder from the ruins that are left of what was to one day be a summer retreat for the president.

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!

Front Range Hikes

Looking for Free Colorado Camping?

Red Rocks Park

Overview

Red Rocks Park is most notably known for being one of the greatest outdoor amphitheaters but the park also hosts many great hiking trails. The views in the park are always great, even in the winter when everything is dead and brown, although the stark contrasts between the red rocks and green foliage of spring are not to be missed. The trails within Red Rocks Park are easy and beautiful, aside from the Mount Morrison trail which is difficult, but retains the stunning views. One of the great features of the park is that you can easily connect to trails in nearby Matthew Winters Park for some great long treks with amazing views. If you are planning on hiking trails within the park during the spring and summer months be sure to check when the nightly show will start so you can be out of the park well before the party starts.

Park Details:

  • Dogs are allowed but must be leashed.
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking on most trails
  • Centaurs err…. Equestrians
  • Climbing
  • Picnicking
  • There are clean restrooms at both parking lots that emit zero odor.
  • All of the trails are well marked and easy to follow.
  • Park hours are one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset
  • Camping is not allowed in the park
  • Hunting or firearms are not allowed
  • No Entrance fees

Emergency contacts:

Jefferson County Sheriff’s office @ (303) 277-0211

If the event is life threatening dial: 911

Quick Reference Map

A static copy of the parks trail map can be downloaded to your phone from Denver Mountain Parks

Mount Morrison

View from Mount Morrison Trail
View from Mount Morrison Trail
Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)10 (Hard)
Views Rank (1 – 10)6
Distance3.2 miles
Time NeededAbout 1 Hour 45 Minute

Details:

  • No other connecting trails
  • No parking lot just shoulder parking
  • Out and back hike
  • Exposed hiking minimal tree cover
  • Very steep hike that will require multiple points of contact at times
  • Closest parking area: Drive through Morrison and head towards Evergreen. There is street parking as you enter entrance 4 for red rocks park (Titans Road)

Trailhead directions: Trail is right off the road

Trail Highlights:

  • Magnificent close up views of Red Rocks
  • Vista of the Red Rocks Valley
  • Fantastic views

Review:

If you are looking for a great workout with an equally amazing view Mount Morrison trial will not leave you disappointed. Mount Morrison is a difficult trail to say the least, expect to use your hands when you start to get near the summit. Some special considerations for this hike aside from your physical shape would be sunscreen as there is little in the way of tree cover, adequate tread on your shoes or boots, and plenty of water preferable in a wearable bladder so your hands are free. The best part of this hike is you will never be without a great view while you are stopping to catch your breath.

Mount Vernon Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)3 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)6
Distance0.9 miles
Time NeededAbout 20 minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trail: Will Call Trail
  • Parking is limited at the parking area near entrance 2
  • Out and back hike
  • Exposed hiking minimal tree cover
  • Gentle elevation changes
  • Closest parking area: At the beginning of Red Rocks entrance 2 or Lower south lot 2

Trailhead directions: Trail is right off the road

Trail Highlights:

  • Magnificent close up views of Red Rocks

Review:

Mount Vernon trail leads from the entrance 2 through a meadow and up a gully to the lower south lot 2 which is a very large parking area. There is plenty to see along the way as the towering rock walls that make up Red Rocks Amphitheater persistently loom in front of you. There is little in the way of tree cover but the hike is short and easy with the types of views that will make everyone happy.

Red Rocks Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)7
Distance 3.5 miles
Time NeededAbout 1 Hour 13 Minutes
Red Rocks trail connects to Morrison Slide trail looking at Red Rocks Park.
Morrison Slide trail views

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Dakota ridge trail, Morrison Slide trail, Cherry Gulch, and Village Walk trails (Must cross 93 to connect with Dakota ridge trail.)
  • Out and Back starting at either the Matthew winters park entrance via the Village Walk Trail, or near Red Rock Parks Rd.
  • Very popular trail
  • Easy trail
  • Mild elevation change
  • Very little tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Dakota Ridge Parking off Red Rock Parks Rd. at entrance

Trailhead directions: Trail starts on Red Rock Parks Rd.

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Red Rocks

Review:

Red Rocks is an easy trail open to hikers, mountain bikers, leashed dogs, and Centaurs…. Err equestrians. The trail is easy to hike the entire length and is very popular with the local population. Most people hiking this trail will also hike the Village Walk trail and sometime take a small detour on to the Cherry Gulch trail which helps to shorten the trail if you are running short on time.

Red Rocks Trading Post Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)2 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance1.5 miles
Time NeededAbout 30 Minutes

Details:

  • No other connecting trails
  • Very busy trail
  • Small elevation changes
  • Little tree cover/shade
  • Closest parking area: There is a parking area across the street from the amphitheater.

Trailhead directions: Starts and ends at the parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Fantastic views of Red Rocks
  • Great hike for all skill levels
  • Close to Denver

Review:

This trail has just about everything going for it if you are looking for a nice easy hike that is close to Denver, while serving up great views for the entire hike. Be prepared to hike with lots of people because this trail is popular for all of the reasons that are listed above but don’t let the crowds stop you, there are plenty of places to jump aside and just marvel at the beauty of the area.

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!

Front Range Hikes

Looking for Free Colorado Camping?

Matthew Winters Park

Overview

Matthew Winter Park offers some great easy to moderate hiking opportunities close to Denver. With easy access to the park from I-70 just off of C-470 and access from US 285, you can quickly get to the park no matter what direction you are coming from. The park offers hiker only, biker only and equestrian only trails. Dogs are allowed in the park, and the parks trails are accessible year round. If you are looking for a great place to take the kids Dinosaur ridge lies within the park boundaries offering a look into Colorado’s prehistoric past.

9.2 Miles of Trails

Park Details:

  • Dogs are allowed but must be leashed.
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking on most trails
  • Centaurs err…. Equestrians
  • Climbing
  • Picnicking
  • There are clean restrooms at both parking lots that emit zero odor.
  • All of the trails are well marked and easy to follow.
  • Park entrance is one hour before sunrise
  • Park closure is one hour after sunset
  • Camping is not allowed in the park
  • Hunting or firearms use is not allowed
  • No Entrance fees

Emergency contacts:

Jefferson County Sheriff’s office @ (303) 277-0211

If the event is life threatening dial: 911

Quick Reference Map

Static versions of the park map can be downloaded to your phone from
Jefferson County Parks

Free GPX files are also available to help you plan your next trip.

Bail out

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

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Dakota ridge, Red Rocks, and Mount Vernon trails
  • Moderately steep switchbacks
  • No tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Red Rocks entrance 2 parking area

Trailhead directions: S- head East towards Dakota ridge | Cross 93 to begin trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Connection to Red Rocks Park trails

Review:

Rather than diving right off the Dakota Ridge trail after you cross Alameda and taking the Red Rocks trail down the hill, you also have the opportunity to follow the ridge for about another half a mile and take this new trail down to the same crossing area that the Red Rocks trail will take you to. There are some nice views of Denver and you get a great view of Bandimere Speedway just before you hit the trailhead. The trail is a short set of switchbacks with persistent views of Red Rocks Amphitheater and meets the Red Rocks trail at the crossing for highway 93.

Cherry Gulch Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)3 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance0.3  miles
Time NeededAbout 6 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Red Rocks, and Morrison Slide trail
  • Little variance in elevation
  • Good tree cover
  • Closest parking area: North lot

Trailhead directions: S-Village Walk | R-Red Rocks Trail | R-Cherry Gulch

Trail Highlights:

  • Small creek

Review:

You will access the Cherry Gulch trail from the Red Rocks Trail at either the south or north trailhead. This is a great little hike if you are looking to shave a little time off your Red Rocks Trail hike. The trailhead will take you slightly up the side of the mountain instead of out into the snaking meadow path portion of the Red Rocks trail. Once on the side of the mountain you will traverse some rocks and drop down a few switchbacks to the creek bed where there is an easy point to cross. Once you make it back up the hill on the more south mountain you will quickly reach the junction with the Red Rocks trail as well as the junction for the Morrison slide trail.

Dakota Ridge

Road leading to Morrison from the Dakota Ridge Trail
Ledge View on Dakota Ridge
Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5  (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)8
Distance 3.0 miles
Time NeededAbout 46 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Zorro, Village Walk, Bail out, and Red Rocks trails (You must cross 93 to connect the Village walk and Red Rocks trails)
  • Can be noisy from traffic
  • Great trail for a sunrise hike
  • Moderate to steep elevation deviations throughout hike
  • Some tree cover mostly exposed
  • Closest parking area: Stegosaurus lot on the east side of 93

Trailhead directions: Starts at the parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Follows the ridge of the hog back
  • Steep rock cliffs
  • Some places on the trail are narrow
  • High cliff faces
  • OneSunChasers favorite trail in this park

Review:

The best of both worlds as the trail is a good workout with amazing views in all directions for the entire trail and is very close to Denver. Jump right off the highway and right above it all, this trail offers spectacular views of Red Rocks to the west and the southwest urban corridor to the east. Everywhere you turn there is something great to look at. This would be a technical trail for a mountain bike, but I always see several people having a great time riding the ridge lines when I hike here. The trail is strait forward to follow and well-marked. When you reach W. Alameda Pkwy., you will want to hike up the hill on the road if you want to reconnect with the trail. Once you reconnect with the trail you can keep hiking or join the Red Rocks trail and hike back on a different route. Currently after you reconnect you can continue on the Dakota ridge trail for about another half mile before you reach the trail junction with Bail out a new trail. You can either go left or right and continue on a little loop and the junction for the new unfinished portion of the trail. Per the trail signs at the writing of this guide, there are plans to continue the trail further south and there is a very large amount of the trail done at the time of the writing of this book, but the trail turns into more of a feat in navigation after about another mile of hiking. This should be an epic trail when it is fully complete,

Morrison Slide

Morrison Slide trail in looking at Red Rocks Park.
Morrison Slide trail views
Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)6
Distance1.6  miles
Time NeededAbout 37 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Red Rocks, Village Walk, Dakota Ridge, and Morrison Slide trails
  • Parking is limited in Red Rocks.
  • This trail uses a part of the red rocks trail to complete the loop.
  • Descent elevation gains if hiking this from the south trailhead.
  • Mostly exposed little tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Take Red Rocks Park Rd. Right on W. Alameda PKWY., a little over ¼ mile past Box office and will call there is a parking area

Trailhead directions: S-Red Rocks Trail | L- Morrison Slide

Trail Highlights:

  • Magnificent close up views of Red Rocks
  • Vista of the Red Rocks Valley

Review:

This short heavily trafficked hike is often completed as a loop starting at the small parking lot off of W. Alameda Parkway within Red Rocks Park. From the small parking lot cross the street and starting out on the Red Rocks trail which leads up to the Morrison Slide Trail. There is little elevation change but the views from the top of the trail are great for viewing the Red Rocks area. The alternative start to the hike is to come down the Village Walk trail and join the Red Rocks trail, then hike up the Morrison Slide trail from the north side.

Village Walk

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)2 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance0.4 miles
Time NeededAbout 10

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Red Rocks trail and the Dakota ridge trail (Must cross 93 to connect with Dakota ridge trail.)
  • Very busy trail
  • Small change in elevation
  • Exposed little tree cover
  • Closest parking area: North parking lot

Trailhead directions: Trail starts from parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Dakota Ridge

Review:

This very short trail serves as the access point to the north side of the Red Rocks trail. The hike has very little elevation gain and is easy to travel for all ages. There are often crowds on this trail particularly on the weekend so if you are looking for a more secluded hike there are some other great options in the area to explore.

Zorro

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance0.9 miles
Time NeededAbout 25 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Dakota Ridge trail
  • Access to Green Mountain area
  • Light elevation gain/loss
  • Exposed little tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Rooney Road Trailhead parking area

Trailhead directions: Cross S Rooney Rd. S-Zorro Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Connects Green Mountain and Matthew Winters Park

Review:

Legend has it that Zorro himself carved this path into the hillside on his way up to the Dakota Ridge trail to fight with Chuck Norris; who definitely lost this battle. This path is not particularly steep and is mainly used to connect the Matthew Winters Park trails to the Green Mountain trails system. There is almost no tree cover on the trail and the constant hum of C-470 persists the entirety of the trail at all hours of the day and night. The top of the trail does have some great views of the hog back and some very interesting stone steps.

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!

Front Range Hikes

Looking for Free Colorado Camping?

Lair O’ The Bear

Overview

Rest your fears of finding the Lair O’ The Bear by accident, all you are likely to find in this park is a great place to escape the city while you enjoy nature!

Mountain meadow at Lair O' The Bear Park
Mountain meadow at Lair O’ The Bear Park

Peace and inner tranquility can be found along the trails within Lair o’ the Bear Park or at the very least you will find the creek to be a rather relaxing place to hike for the day. The park boasts 28 picnic tables and an unending number of good places to drop a line in case you forgot your picnic lunch. Being so close to Denver the park is very popular but still offers a great escape. Don’t forget to check out the modern day castle just a short shamble down the Bear Creek trail.

5.8 Miles of Trails

Park Details:

  • Dogs are allowed but must be leashed
  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • Centaurs Equestrian
  • Fishing
  • Right next to Bear Creek for relaxing day
  • Restrooms available
  • Park opens one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset
  • 28 Picnic tables make it a great place for a family outing.
  • No Entrance fees

Emergency contacts:

Jefferson County Sheriff’s office @ (303) 277-0211

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map

A static version of the park map can be downloaded from Lair O’ The Bear Park.

Free GPX files are also available for use for your trip planning.

Bear Creek Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)6
Distance5.9 miles
Time NeededAbout 2 Hours 15 Minute

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Westridge Trail, Meadow View Trail, Panorama Point, Creekside Trail, and Bruins Bluff Trail
  • Heavy traffic out and back
  • Multi Use trail
  • Partially treed
  • Closest parking area: Either Lair O’ The Bear parking lot or Pence Parking lot
  • Hosts a Bike repair station at the beginning of the trail

Trailhead directions: Starts at both parking lots

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of a modern Castle
  • Bear Creek
  • Variety of scenery
  • OneSunChasers favorite trail in this park

Review:

This is a very popular hike for both mountain bikers and hikers. There is plenty to look at on the hike that take you through several different parks as you wander through the mountains and down into the valley where Bear Creek tumbles down to Morrison. While the path is long there are several shorter variations you can do and lots of opportunities to see the trail in parts over several trips. Near the Lair O’ the Bear parking lot there is a modern castle that is a great highlight of the trail and always a big hit with children. If you are looking for a light workout I would suggest hiking the trail from the Lair O’ The Bear parking lot up to the Pence Park parking lot (This is easiest if you hike with a friend and leave one car at each lot and shuttle between them.) Or you can simply shift into beast mode and crank out over 11.8 miles of trail in one day. Either way the only thing you are losing out on is potentially some extra fat you had stored away for a rainy day.

Bruin Bluff Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5  (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)4
Distance1.2 miles
Time NeededAbout 25 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Caster Cutoff, Bear Creek Trail, Creekside Trail
  • Lightly treed
  • Hiker only
  • Mostly exposed with light tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Lair O’ The Bear parking lot

Trailhead directions: S-Creekside by the restrooms | R-Bruins Bluff

Trail Highlights:

  • View of Bear Creek from above

Review:

All the trails in Lair O’ The Bear are on the short side, and this is the longest by far. There is a bit of a climb to the trail, but anyone in reasonably good shape should not struggle on this trail. There are some good views from the rock ledge about ⅔ of the way into the trail, but other than that there are not any notable points on the trail. The trail is mostly exposed, but short so if you need shelter from rain, sun or snow it will not be far away, providing you were able to get a spot in the parking lot.

Castor Cutoff Trail

Bear Creek from Lair O" The Bear Park
Lair O The Bear Park
Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)3 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance0.3 miles
Time NeededAbout 5 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Bruins Bluff Trail, Bear Creek Trail
  • Hiker only
  • Light elevation gain/loss
  • Partial trees
  • Closest parking area: Lair O’ The Bear parking area

Trailhead directions: S-Bear Creek Trail | L- Bruins Bluff trail just over foot bridge | L- Caster Cutoff Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of meadow and Bruins Bluff

Review:

This is a short access trail to Bruins Bluff trail, there are some trees, but they are mostly just off the trail near the river and offer little shade on the trail. There are lots of little places to stop off and check things out. This is a good trail for kids it’s not too steep and there’s lots to explore.

Creekside Trail

Trail that runs between Bear Creek River and the Parking lot for the Lair O' The Bear Park
Trail by Bear Creek
Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)2 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance0.3 miles
Time NeededAbout 5 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Bear Creek Trail
  • Very little elevation change
  • Lightly treed
  • Closest parking area: Lair O’ The Bear parking lot

Trailhead directions: Trail starts from the parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Walk along Bear Creek
Covered picnic area in Lair O'The Bear Park
Picnic area in Lair O’The Bear Park

Review:

There are a ton of great picnic spaces off this trail. It is mainly used to access the river and the picnic tables that are scattered all along the path. There is some tree cover here and there, but it is not thick or consistent, luckily it is close to the parking lot and not long at all.

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!

Front Range Hikes

Looking for Free Colorado Camping?

Caballo Lake State Park

Caballo Lake State Park

Caballo Lake State Park is a beautiful place to Camp in the Southern part of New Mexico. Just North of Las Cruses and South of Truth or Consequences this picturesque lake is a great spot to take in some R&R most of the year. The east side of the lake is flanked by the Caballo Mountains, and to the West just a short distance away is I-25 giving you easy access to the Interstate, without being a noisy burden.

Cabbalo Lake State Park

Caballo Lake State Park

Phone Number: (575) 743-3942

Elevation: 4,447

Lat/Long: 32.907712, -170.311307

Nearby Town: Arrey, NM. @4 miles

Details:

  • 170 developed Sites
  • Beach and Boat Camping
  • Restrooms with showers
  • Flush and Vault toilets

Date of Report

January 2019

Road Conditions:

Excellent

The road leading to the campground is a well maintained asphalt road. Once inside the park all of the roads leading to the different campground drives are asphalt, and the circle drives that lead to the developed campsites are packed gravel all are in excellent condition. If you are camping in the primitive areas, the roads will be grated dirt roads, but likewise are in good condition. While there may be signs of wear after weather, the parks department does an excellent job of maintaining passable roads to the primitive camping area, so you should not have a problem reaching the sites in a normal car.

General Site information

Like any pay campground the accommodations at Caballo Lake State Parks developed campsites are fantastic. All of the roads are wide and make it easy to maneuver even large rigs, all of the sites are well spaced, flat and quite large. The restrooms facilities and shower areas are large, very clean and handicap accessible.

Restroom shelter at Caballo Lake State Park
Restroom shelter

If roughing it is not in your list of desired features, all standard utilities can be had for a reasonable price of course. The campground also has an RV dump station with fresh water spigot for campers using their rigs water and waste systems. Primitive campsites are in abundance, and a good majority of them either overlook the lake or are a short walk away from the shore.

Annual New Mexico State Parks Pass

Normally my content focuses on free camping, fortunately there are some pay programs that offer extraordinary value. The New Mexico State Parks pass is one of those exceptions. The base fee at the time of the writing of this article is $180 for NM. residents and $225 for out of state residents. This fee allows you to camp at New Mexico State Parks sites for 14 days,and use the facilities before you need to move on to a new location, which can either be in another NM. State park, or a nearby free campground.

Cost broken out per day if you used a New Mexico campground every day would be about $1.62 per day. Most people are not going to spend the entire year in these campgrounds, but the value for what you get makes it a very affordable addition to a nomads camping portfolio.

No Desire to Rough it?

If you are looking for electric hookups, and sewer there is a small additional fee per day for each service. The cost is a flat rate at the time of the writing of this article of $4 for each service, you know to make life a little more comfortable.