Elk Meadows Park


Elk Meadows Park is simply a fantastic park to spend the day at. There are plenty of picnic areas available with grills to make for a great outing. The restroom facilities are clean and odor free, and while this park is busy there is usually adequate parking available. There are a few difficult trails that offer more than just a great workout, so don’t even think of leaving the camera in the car. I love that there are plenty of long trails to allow you to hike for hours on end. The layout of the park lends itself to the creation on many different loop combinations, and one could feasibly spend several days making excellent connections on several trails in the park.

Deer Creek Canyon Park

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Rising above the South Valley park area and nestled along the western edge of the valley between where the mountains begin and the hog back ends you will find Deer Creek Park. Trails ranging from a gentle stroll to vigorous workout are to be had within the confines of this park. The trails in the more interior sections of the park give a feeling of seclusion with the expansive forests stretched out beyond holding secret the homes of the many animals that can be seen within the park, including but rarely seen bear and mountain lion. If you are hiking in the hotter months keep an eye out for rattlesnakes in the area as they do enjoy the sun as much as the other occupants of the area. There are many hiker only trails in this park so be sure to look for the signs to let you know where you are allowed to be if you are rolling along.

Corwina, O’ Fallon, and Pence Parks

O’Fallon, Corwina and Pence parks are part of the Denver parks system along with several other parks and open space areas in the immediate vicinity as well as other counties in and around Denver.

The park offers great views of the mountains and a general feeling of being much further in the woods than you are. The Bear Creek Trail forms the backbone of several of the trails in the parks and presents the opportunity to create several great loop trails for a full day adventure in the park. The best part is there is a lot of parking; I will say that in the midst of summer on the weekends it can at times be difficult to find a parking spot around these parks.

Alderfer/Three Sisters Park

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Trails, trails everywhere, there are over 15 miles of trails packed into this little park, along with great picnicking opportunities. Enjoy the sights of the old farm buildings that remain in the park from days long past. If you are looking for other outdoor activities try fishing in Evergreen lake, which is resting at the base of the park, or do a little bouldering on the rocks off of hidden fawn trail. After you’re sure you have packed in a fun filled day Evergreen hosts several places to grab a bite to eat and something cold to quench your thirst.


Arapaho National Forest

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It’s hard to beat national forest land they hold some of the countries greatest treasures. These areas are often brimming with natural beauty and offer the opportunity to camp, sometime for free and sometimes for a small fee, be sure the check the regulations in the area you are interested in. Hiking trails tend to not be marked as well as in county parks, but that is not always true statement. The section of the Arapaho National Forest featured in this post is a part of the Colorado Front Range Hikes: Volume 1 book  which will have more detail on the trails in the area, where they go and how hard they are to hike. If you are looking for detailed information on the hikes the GPX files will give you a clear view on elevation changes and distance.


Bergen Peak State Wildlife Area

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This is one of my favorite hiking loops as the trail offers a good workout and a chance to get away from crowds and see some wildlife, but not have to drive far from Denver. Be aware on the trail and keep a look out, this trail is less traveled than nearby Elk Meadows Park and it’s highly likely that you will run across animals so make noise as your hiking and avoid sneaking up on the wildlife in the area. While the Map I use indicates that this is a 2.8 mile hike, other sources on the internet say everything from 2.8 to 4.5. I came in with a total distance of 3.5 miles on my GPS.

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Beaver Brook Watershed

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Nestled at the base of Mount Evans this gem is packed with great trails for those more ambitious hikers. Many of the trails are not marked or named, and if you are hiking in the peak of summer it can be easy to lose the trail you are following, so I would advise you to take a GPS or download a GPS program on your phone and use my GPX files to assist in navigating the area. There are many trails to be hiked and several fantastic views within the area. Some of the views span the watershed, while others look out towards denver or deep into the wild mountain ranges beyond Mount Evans. A good description of the trails available and where they lead to are featured in the Colorado Front Range Hiking book Volume 1.