Betasso Ranch

Overview

Betasso Ranch Nature Preserve is a must visit if you are looking for a great place to hike near Boulder. The park has a variety of trails ranging in difficulty, most with a fair amount of tree cover, and one with a lovely mountain stream. For those with an acrobatic flare climbing is a popular activity that is enjoyed within the park. If you are looking for an excellent spot for a nice picnic this nature preserve will be sure to please with several vary large shelters.

8.8 Miles of Trails

Park Details

  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking on most days (Mountain bikers are not allowed on all trails or in all directions.)
  • Centaurs Equestrians
  • Dogs are allowed on a leash
  • Open Sunrise to Sunset
  • Picnicking
  • Hunting is not permitted
  • Weapons are not allowed
  • Camping is prohibited
  • Drinking or drug use is not permitted
  • 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

Trail maps can be downloaded from Boulder County, and as always our free GPX files are also available for trip planning.

Canyon Loop Trail

Difficulty Rank6 (Moderate)
Views Rank6
Distance Rank3.2 Miles
Time Needed145 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Bummer Rock and Loop Link Trails
  • Loop Hike
  • Good Distance
  • Good Workout
  • Mountain Bikers need to follow the directional signs

Trailhead: S Lot Link | R or L on Canyon Loop Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views are good
  • Beautiful Pine forest and mountain prairies

Review:

Canyon loop trail is a hefty hike with lots to look at. While the views do not reach as far as they do in some of the other nearby parks they are still worth taking in. The trail is not overly strenuous, but will be a good workout. Being over three miles you will want to make sure you have plenty of water especially on warm days, and apply sunscreen before you hit the trail.

Bummer Rock Trail

Dead Tree on top of Bummer Rock in Betasso Preserve
Dead Tree on top of Bummer Rock
Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank0.3 Miles
Time needed to hike7 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Lot link trail
  • Centaur and Hiker only man’s best friend can come too
  • Climbing

Trailhead: Starts at the parking area

Trail Highlights:

  • Great views of the front range
  • Great views of Boulder

Review:

Bummer rock is no bummer man, this trail while short has a good amount of elevation gain and some stellar 360 degree views from the summit. This is a popular place to climb and there is some hardware already on site, I don’t believe you are allowed to add new hardware here. Other than that the trail is easy to follow and has a good amount of tree cover until you reach the top where there are some really cool boulders to climb around on.

Betasso Link Trail

Difficulty Rank8 (Difficult)
Views Rank6
Distance Rank1.3 Miles
Time Needed30 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Canyon Loop trail
  • Very steep
  • Strong tree cover
  • Technical ride

Trailhead: starts at the parking area off highway 119 or the last parking area in Betasso park.

Trail Highlights:

  • Great workout

Review:

Looking for a grueling 1.3 mile hike to get you ready for the easy stuff in Betasso park? This trail is very steep with several switchbacks along the way. The forest is tall and provides a fair amount of cover from the sun, while the valley you will be hiking in blocks most of the wind. The lower parking area is small with only enough room for half a dozen well parked cars so stopping here to enter the park might not be an option during peak times.

Benjamin Loop

Difficulty Rank6 (Moderate)
Views Rank6
Distance Rank2.3 Miles
Time Needed70 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: 4 Mile link trail, and Loop link trail
  • Loop hike
  • Good tree cover most of the trail

Trailhead:Start at one of the parking areas off Fourmile canyon Dr. S – 4 Mile Link | L- Benjamin loop

Trail Highlights:

  • Beautiful forest

Review:

If you are planning on riding this trail you will want to pay close attention to the directional markers and know that there are certain days that you cannot ride in this park. When I do come to hike here I generally tend to pick the direction of travel that will allow me to meet mountain bikers head on. Mostly so I can practice the mad matador skills I picked up while writing my last trail guide. But in all seriousness I find it easier to get out of the way of mountain bikers when I can see them. Not that you will be looking for them per se because the forest on this trail is very beautiful and thick for most of the two and a half miles.

Loop Link Trail

Mountain prairie in Betasso Preserve
Mountain prairie in Betasso Preserve
Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank6
Distance Rank0.7 Miles
Time Needed11 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Benjamin Loop and Canyon Loop
  • Short interconnect trail
  • Lite tree cover

Trailhead: Start at the Canyon Loop parking area

Trail Highlights:

  • Connects parking areas

Review:

There is really nothing to say about this trail, it connects two of the parking areas in the park. It is not steep and there is little in the way of tree cover.

4 Mile Link Trail

Foot bridge in Betasso Preserve near Boulder Colorado
Bridge in Betasso Preserve
Difficulty Rank7 (Moderate)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank0.8 Miles
Time Needed15 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Benjamin Loop
  • Short hike
  • Good tree cover
  • Stone Steps on trail

Trailhead: S On Street Parking

Trail Highlights:

  • Short connection trail
  • Creek
  • Stone steps up to road parking

Review:

There is a small parking pull off on the side of 4 mile canyon road, however there is a sign there stating that parking is for emergency and authorized vehicles only. The couple times I have hiked in this park I have seen people parked on the side of the road in other locations farther up and down the road so that may be an option for you. The hike is pleasantly tucked into the forest so sun and wind exposure is minimal. The trail is not very steep and there is a great bench by 4 mile creek where you should stop to take in the sights and sounds.

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South Table Mountain Park

Overview

South Table Mountain Park is less traveled than its Northern Counterpart, but don’t count it out of your Front Range Hiking experience. The park has a large variety of trails form very steep with amazing views to very flat with stunning views. While the Eastern side of the park will have the less intense hill climbs, both will offer hikers and mountain bikers a good workout. Looking out from the mesa to the east you have Denver and to the West Golden, although you will need to do some hiking to see both as only one will be in view at any given time. Those that are looking for a nice steep hill climb should visit the Western portion, that is technically not part of the park for great views of the Golden area on some very impressive rock features at the end of a couple of steep trails.

9.2 Miles of Trails

Park Details

  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Centaurs Equestrians
  • Picnicking
  • Sports field
  • Two actual parking areas
  • There is a small parking area for Golden Summit and Sleeping Elk trail not technically part of this park.
  • Porta-potti at Camp George west
  • Trails are well marked
  • No trees in this park
  • Weapons are prohibited
  • Overnight camping 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

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

Ancient Palms Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)6 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance1.0 Miles
Time Needed12 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Basalt Cap Loop
  • Little rocky
  • Slightly technical if riding

Trailhead: S – Tertiary | R – Basalt Cap Loop | R – Ancient Psalm trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Coors water retention ponds
  • Copious amounts of butterflies fluttering around
  • Large variety of birds

Review:

There is a small area off of Old Quarry road where this trail can also be accessed, but there is no actual parking area there and the on street parking is very limited. The trail starts off with a good increase in elevation and tapers off a bit in the middle of the trail. There are some good views of the Denver west area as you climb the side of the hill. Don’t take your eyes off the trail for too long however as this trail is rock strewn in parts and a little bit on the technical side if you are new to mountain biking. There is no tree cover in this area of the park, but there are an abundance of shrubs that house a thriving butterfly community, which turns out to be like a whole foods for birds in the area.

Basalt Cap Loop Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)3 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)6
Distance2.0 Miles
Time Needed38 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Tertiary, Cretaceous, Old Quarry, Ancient Psalms
  • Lots of birds
  • Can be very windy

Trailhead: S- Tertiary trail | R or L on Basalt Cap Loop

Trail Highlights:

  • Great Views of Denver

Review:

While there is a little workout to get to this trail the path itself is a nice easy stroll, just not through the woods as there are no trees on the mesa. The abundance of flat rocks at the top make perfect bowles that collect water and an abundance of birds in the area. If you are hiking the area during the spring, summer or fall there is a good chance you will encounter a rattlesnake sunning itself, remember to be alert and give them space. At certain times of day you may also see police racing around on the training track located at the south west side of the trail.

Cretaceous Trail

Trail leading up the side of South Table Mesa
Trail leading up the side of South Table Mesa
Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)4
Distance0.5 Miles
Time Needed11 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Tertiary Trail, Basalt Cap Loop
  • No trees
  • Dirt trail not too rocky

Trailhead: S – Tertiary | L – Cretaceous Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Lots of birds in the area

Review:

Decent elevation gain but not too steep. There is no reprieve from the sun on this trail, and wind is usually not a concern as the trail runs along the south side of the mesa. The views are not that great on the trail, but the others in the park that this trail leads to extend much better scenery. If you are riding and looking for a less technical climb this is the trail for you.

Note: If you are using the Jefferson county parks map the milage is longer than the trail actually is. My assumption is that the extra mileage from Tertiary trail from the road up to the junction was added to Cretaceous trail rather than Tertiary trail.

Fossil Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance0.8 Miles
Time Needed16 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Old Quarry
  • Parking area at trailhead

Trailhead: S – Fossil trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Golden

Review:

Easy trail that leads down to a small parking area with tall grasses flanking both sides of the trail. There are a lot of birds all over the area singing in the swaying grass. The views are not great on the trail, and there is no tree cover to speak of like the other trails in the park so plan appropriately when visiting this area.

Old Quarry Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)7
Distance2.4 Miles
Time Needed45 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails:Fossil trail
  • Wide dirt road
  • No trees
  • Mostly flat

Trailhead: S – Fossil | R- Old Quarry trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Denver
  • Views of Golden

Review:

This trail is more like a dirt access road than an actual trail. The path is nice and wide to its easy to pass in both directions of travel. If you continue to follow the trail iw will lead to the cliff overlook and two trails that are not part of the Jefferson County parks department. I highly suggest that if this trail if on your list that you follow it out to the end and the views from the rock precipest are the best in the area. There is private property at the top of the mesa so stay on the trail, besides you don’t want to startly mister rattlesnake in the high grass off the trail looking for lunch no do you.

Camp George Parking to Trail System

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)2 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance0.5 Miles
Time Needed7 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Tertiary Trail
  • Flat trail
  • Skirts sports field
  • Runs along Denver West Parkway

Trailhead: S – Camp George west parking

Trail Highlights:

  • Camp George West sports fields

Review:

This trail starts at one of the two designated parking area for the park. The trail is very flat and skirts a sports field before running along Denver West parkway. There is not much to look at along the way and it can be a bit loud with the traffic, but the parking lot offers plenty of parking spaces and an outhouse restroom to take care of business before hitting the trail.

Tertiary Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)6 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance0.7 Miles
Time Needed16 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails:

Trailhead: S | Camp George Parking Lot trail to Park | C – Tertiary Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Denver
  • Decent hill climb

Review:

Tertiary is the more technical of the trails that lead to the summit of the mesa, and while there are a few trees here and there, most of the trail is exposed along the southeast side of the mesa. There are a good many rocks along the trail and some steep climbs in places, but overall the trail is rideable if you are of moderate skill on a mountain bike and in decent shape.

Golden Summit Trail

Difficulty Rank (1-10)7 (Hard)
Views Rank (1-10)6
Distance0.7 Miles
Time Needed30 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: South Table Top Mesa Trail, Sleeping Elk Trail
  • Steep trail

Trailhead:S – Small 2 car parking area of Belvedere Street and 19th St.

Trail Highlights:

  • Great view of the rock ledges
  • Great workout

Review:

Golden summit trail starts at a large steel gate on Belvedere St. The switchbacks are well traveled and easy to follow, however, there are no trees shading this trek, and high winds are likely. Once you reach the top you will travel through a opening in the top of the mesa and be offered several different trail options. Some lead out to the cliff ledges, while a couple trails lead to radio towers and private property. If you head left and follow the labyrinth of small trails you will gain the foot of the largest rock outcropping on the mesa in the northwestern area of the park. There is a set of concrete steps that have seen some weather over the years leading up to some of the best views in the area. The South Table Top Mesa trail is unmarked here but leads into the actual park.

Flat top of the South Table Mesa looking down on Golden Colorado
Flat top of the South Table Mesa

Sleeping  Elk Trail

View of South Table Mesa
View of South Table Mesa
Difficulty Rank (1-10)7 (Hard)
Views Rank (1-10)6
Distance0.6 Miles
Time Needed26 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Golden Summit Trail

Trailhead: S – Small break between houses off of Belvedere St. on the Northeast side of the road.

Trail Highlights:

  • Great views of the mesa
  • Great workout

Review:

Much like the Golden Summit trail the Sleeping elk trail is devoid of trees, but thick with bushes. Both trails rank about the same for steepness and most people hiking the area will take one trail up and the other down. One thing to note on this trail is that near the summit of the mesa there is an area where you will need the use of your hands to scamper over a rock ledge that is about 4 feet tall, nothing too serious, but if you have mobility or stability issues I would avoid this trail.

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

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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?

South Valley Park

Overview

The views within the South Valley Park are stunning, and it is easy to see why those with deep pockets have chosen to make this valley their homes. The sandstone spires that dot the trails of the park are picturesque to say the least. All of the rock spires in the park are fenced off to keep would be climbers at bay which severely distracts from the natural beauty of the area. For an aerial view of the park take the Lyons back trail, Grazing Elk trail, or head over to Deer Creek Park for great views of the whole area. The trails in the park are easy with little elevation gain, and there are paved paths for those that are looking for a great place to take their road bikes or strollers. While there are not many opportunities for a picnic in the area there is an abundance of trails. If you are looking to make some trail connections, Deer Creek and Hildebrand Ranch Parks are a very short distance away and have interconnecting access trails.

7.4 Miles of Trails

Park Details:

  • Dogs are allowed but must be leashed.
  • Hikers allowed
  • Mountain Bikers Allowed
  • Centaurs Equestrians
  • There is an outhouse at the southernmost parking lot
  • Flush Toilet facilities and water fountains at northern most parking lot
  • All of the trails are well marked and easy to follow
  • Picnic area at northern parking lot
  • Camping is not allowed in the park
  • Park hours are one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset.
  • Little elevation change on all trails
  • Hunting or firearms are not permitted
  • Beautiful red sandstone pillars
  • 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 map can be downloaded to your phone from Jefferson County Parks

As always free GPX files are available to help you plan your next trip.

Cathy Johnson trail

Difficulty Rank3 (Easy)
Views Rank3
Distance Rank2.1 Miles
Time NeededAbout 40 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Columbine trail
  • Light elevation gain/loss
  • No tree cover
  • Closest parking area: There is parking at the trailhead off Deer Creek Canyon Rd. or South Valley Rd.

Trailhead directions: Starts from either parking pull off

Trail Highlights:

  • More of a service road than a trail

Review:

This is a dirt road or more of an access trail than a true hiking trail, but its flat surface and the fact that there is little elevation change makes it a great option if you are looking for a trail run that is close to Denver. The trail runs through a canyon between the hog back and the South Valley Park on the west side of the ridge. The views are nice along the trail but are nothing in comparison to the scenery on the west side in South Valley Park. There is no tree cover on the trail but you can get some reprieve from the sun if you jump on the Columbine trail when the opportunity arises.

Columbine Trail

Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank3
Distance Rank1.1 Miles
Time NeededAbout 23 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Cathy Johnson Trail and the Lyons Back trails
  • Small change in elevation
  • Scrub oak for most of the trail offers some shade.
  • Closest parking area: There is parking at the trailhead off Deer Creek Canyon Rd. or South Valley Rd.

Trailhead directions: S-Cathy Johnson Trail either direction

Trail Highlights:

  • Scrub oak and views of the Valley between the ridges

Review:

Sporting a little tree cover, this Columbine trail is located about 1/2 mile in from either the north or the south entrances for the Cathy Johnson trail. The trail offers much better views than the Cathy Johnson trail and is a popular trail for mountain bikers and hikers alike. There is not much in the form of elevation change, but this is a decent place to strut through the woods nonetheless.

Coyote Song Trail

Difficulty Rank2 (Easy)
Views Rank6
Distance Rank1.5 miles
Time NeededAbout 32 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Lyons Back, Grazing Elk, Swallow, and Valley View trails
  • Very little elevation change
  • Very little tree cover
  • Closest parking area: South lot

Trailhead directions Starts at parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Amazing rock formations
  • Vivid red rock formations
  • Meadow views
  • OneSunChasers favorite trail in this park

Review:

True this is an easy trail and it’s very close to Denver, but the views are amazing. There are red sandstone pillars everywhere you turn. The valley is truly beautiful so make sure you bring your camera along for the trip. The trail has little in the way of elevation change making it a fantastic trail for the elderly and those with small children. The trail runs from the Valley road in the northern reaches of the park down to the southern parking lot.

Grazing Elk Trail

Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank6
Distance Rank2.5 miles
Time NeededAbout 52 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Coyote Song, Valley View, and Rattle Snake Gulch trails
  • Slight elevation changes
  • Very little tree cover
  • Closest parking area: There is a parking pull off just after Grizzly Dr. on the south side of the road

Trailhead directions: Cross Deer Creek Canyon Rd. | S-Rattlesnake Gulch on the north side of the road | Either R or L on Grazing Elk Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Sweeping views of red rock formations
  • Views of prairie

Review:

Nice flat trail with great views of the surrounding rock formations and the meadows that surround them. This is a good hike or bike ride for those that are looking for a nice stroll but don’t want the hustle and bustle of the rest of the park. I have seen deer on this trail several times and they are not at all bothered by the presence of people, it in fact it sometime takes some effort to keep them at a distance as they will walk right up to you to check out what’s going on. There is no tree cover on this trail so protection from the sun is a must.

Lyons Back Trail

Rock steps on Lyons Back trail in South Valley Park
Rock Steps at South Valley
Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank4
Distance Rank0.2 miles
Time NeededAbout 6 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Coyote Song and Columbine trails
  • Moderate elevation change
  • Partial tree cover
  • Closest parking area: North lot

Trailhead directions S-Coyote Song Trail | L-Lyons Back Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Great overview of the park

Review:

While rated as moderate the short 0.2 mile stent will not leave your breathless from exertion but the views might. Lyons Back trail also offers a great connection to the Columbine trail that runs on the east side if the ridge. The trail presents a unique view of the surrounding park, but the power lines that run up the trail spoil the natural beauty that this valley exudes.

Prairie Falcon Trail

Difficulty Rank3 (Easy)
Views Rank4
Distance Rank0.5 miles
Time NeededAbout 10 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Coyote song, Swallow trails
  • Little elevation change
  • Very little tree cover
  • Closest parking area: North lot
  • Trailhead directions: S-Sparrow Trail | R or L on Prairie Falcon Trail (Right leads to South Valley Rd.)

Trail Highlights:

  • Meadow Views
  • Rock Spire views

Review:

Prairie Falcon trail is a great trail if you are looking to get to Swallow trail and make your way to the more northern parking lot. The trail is very flat, and can be used to make some loop trail options in the park. The trail also runs through a meadow with a wetlands area and eventually leads out to the road. There is no tree cover to speak of on this trail, but the views of rock spires are plentiful.

Swallow Trail

Difficulty Rank2 (Easy)
Views Rank4
Distance Rank0.8 miles
Time NeededAbout 17 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Prairie Falcon Trail, Coyote Song trails
  • Hiker only trail.
  • Minor elevation change
  • Little tree cover
  • Closest parking area: North lot

Trailhead directions: Trail starts from parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • There is a private reservoir with no public access next to this trail.
  • Great Meadow views
  • Great views of the rock spires

Review:

If you are looking for an easy stroll with great views this is the trail for you. The trail has little elevation change, good views all around save for power lines and houses in the distance and a plethora of bird life stirring in the scrub oak along the trail.

Valley View Trail

Difficulty Rank1 (Easy)
Views Rank3
Distance Rank1.2 miles
Time NeededAbout 24 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Coyote Song, Grazing Elk trails
  • Gradual elevation changes
  • No tree cover
  • Closest parking area: South lot

Trailhead directions Trail runs along the west side of South valley Rd.

Trail Highlights:

  • Great Meadow views
  • Great views of the rock spires

Review:

Skirting the South Valley road along the entirety of the park, this trail is perfect for those on wheels, or those that are not looking to walk in the dirt. Essentially this is not so much of a trail as it is a bike path off of the main road.

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?

Meyers Ranch Park

Overview

There are endless arrays of squirrels that inhabit this park but not much other wildlife is likely to be seen. Meyers Ranch Park is very easy and convenient to get to and offers plenty of picnic areas, but you will be listening to the highway pretty much everywhere in the park. The noise however, does not seem to detour from the popularity of the parks beautiful Pine and aspen forests that etch the Rolling Meadows reaching out to the highway. This is a great place to visit after the snow has begun to fall as there are ample open downhill areas for sledding.

4.2 Miles of Trails

Park Details:

  • Dogs are allowed but must be leashed.
  • Hiking
  • Mountain biking
  • Centaurs errr…… Equestrians
  • Sledding
  • There are clean restrooms near the picnic area that emit zero odors.
  • All of the trails are well marked and easy to follow.
  • Camping is not allowed in the park
  • Park hours are one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset
  • Hunting or firearms are not permitted
  • There is an ample amount of picnic areas
  • Parking is limited and this is a popular park
  • No Entrance fees

Emergency contacts:

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

If the event is life threatening dial 911a

Quick Reference Map

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

Lodge pole Loop

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance1.3 miles
Time NeededAbout 32 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Sunny Aspen and Owl’s Perch trails
  • Couple parts of the hike are slightly steep
  • Gradual elevation gain
  • Good tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Meyers Ranch parking area

Trailhead directions: Hike up access road | trail starts by restrooms

Trail Highlights:

  • Easy trail
  • Forest areas
Mountain prairie view in Meyers Ranch Park
Mountain prairie view in Meyers Ranch Park

Review:

The Lodge Pole Loop is a great hike for those that are new to hiking, have children, or are just looking for a quick hike in the woods that’s not too far from Denver. The bad part about this and all of the other trails in the area is you will not be without the sound of the highway due to its close proximity. While the trails are nice you will probably not see more wildlife than a passing squirrel or bird. Nonetheless this trail does offer a good workout in places.

Owl’s Perch

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

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Lodge Pole Loop trail
  • Mainly connects the picnic areas
  • Slight elevation change
  • Sporadic tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Meyers Ranch parking area

Trailhead directions: Hike up access road | Trail is to the right just after restrooms

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of the cliff faces on the other side of the highway

Review:

This trail is mainly used as an access point to the picnic areas that are scattered throughout the lower portion of the park. There is not much to look at on the trail aside from highway 285 and the power lines that cut through the trees in the north end of the park.

Old Ski Run Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance1.2 miles
Time NeededAbout 27 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Sunny Aspen trail
  • Note that on the National Geographic map this trail did not present as a complete loop at the top which it is.
  • Decent elevation change
  • Thick tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Meyers Ranch parking area

Trailhead directions: Hike up access road | S-Lodge Pole Loop | L-Sunny Aspen Trail | L-Old Ski Run

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Aspen Park
  • Interesting rock formations
Tall Pines in Meyers Ranch Park
Tall Pines in Meyers Ranch Park

Review:

Contrary to the name do not expect to see an old ski run; However, I would think that if you could make it up this trail in the winter with a pair of ski’s or a snowboard you would have one fun ride down. There is a decent rise in elevation that is sure to get the heart pumping and the blood flowing as you hike to the top. This is the only trail in the park where you might not hear the highway below that is providing you are on the backside of the loop at the top.

Sunny Aspen

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance0.8 miles
Time NeededAbout 21 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Lodge Pole Loop trail, and Old Ski Run trails
  • Slight elevation change
  • Good tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Meyers Ranch parking area

Trailhead directions: Hike up access road | S-Lodge Pole Loop | R or L on Sunny Aspen Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Great picnic area if you want to listen to a little less highway noise.
Rocky portion of a trail in Meyers Ranch Park.
Rocky part of a trail in Meyers Ranch Park

Review:

The Sunny Aspen trail does have some rather nice patches of aspens along the way and would make a spectacular trail to enjoy the changing of the leaves in fall. Perhaps the best feature of this hike is there is a covered picnic area at the junction with the Old Ski Run Trail that would make an excellent place to stop for lunch, or escape the rain if you happen to be unlucky enough to get caught out in a storm. This trail will not leave you huffing and puffing like the big bad wolf, but you will get a decent workout while you ramble along.

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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Green Mountain Park

Overview

(William F. Hayden Park)

There are several trails meandering through the meadows that blanket this hillside, just don’t veer too far off the path. There are signs on the trail that warn you not to disturb metal items you find in the ground, because there is a potential that you will find some un-exploded munitions from world war 2 times off the trails in this park. If you do find suspicious items mark the location, leave the area the same way you came in. DO NOT DISTURB THE ITEMS, CALL 911 and give them the details. There are some spectacular views from the trails in all directions. You have the Hog back and the Front Range to the west and the Denver metro area creeping in from all other directions. While the trails are multi use in this park it is very popular with the mountain biking crowd and for good reason the trails are nice and the hills are steep but not overly grueling. The Boulder/Golden map is missing some pieces of connecting trail on the Green Mountain trail and the Rooney trail is not listed on the map. There are an abundance of side trails that have been made over the years from various surrounding subdivisions that I did not document and are not listed on the map, so bear in mind that there are paths that are not listed here, on the map or even on the parks official map.

12.2 Miles of Trails

Park Details:

  • Dogs are allowed but must be leashed.
  • Hiking
  • Mountain Biking
  • Centaurs Equestrians
  • All of the trails are well marked but some signs are sun faded
  • Park opens at 5:00 AM and closes at 10:00 PM
  • Camping is not allowed in the park
  • Hunting or firearms are not permitted
  • No glass containers
  • Paragliding is allowed with a permit
  • No Entrance fees
  • Sadly no nude trail running here (Not that you can do that anywhere else either.)

Emergency contacts:

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

Lakewood Parks @ (303) 697-6159

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map

A static version of the trail map can be downloaded from Green Mountain Park.

You are also welcome as always to use the free GPX files to help plan your next hiking adventure.

Box O Rox Trail

Difficulty Rank7 (Moderate)
Views Rank6
Distance Rank2.1 Miles
Time NeededAbout  Minutes
Wildflowers off of Box O Rox trail in Green Mountain Park.
Green Mountain

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Green Mountain Trail, Summit Loop
  • No tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Parking lot 4: Rooney Rd. parking lot

Trailhead directions: First trail on the left after you cross the footbridge over C-470

Trail Highlights:

  • Wildflowers
  • Fantastic views of the Front Range
  • OneSunChasers favorite trail in this park

Review:

This is one of my favorite hikes in the park; the other is Rooney Valley trail. The views are not as good as some of the other hikes, but the trail is nice and gentle as it winds up the side of the mountain. With the gradual rise even traveling at a moderately fast pace you are not likely to get too winded. As with many of the other hikes in the park, there is no tree cover, and the sound of C-470 is constant as you rise above the city.

Green Mountain Trail

Difficulty Rank8 (Hard)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank6.5 Miles
Time NeededAbout 3 Hours 10 Minute

Details:

  • Connecting trails: North Access Trail, Summit Loop, Rooney Valley Trail, Box O Rox, John O. Hayden Trail.
  • Very busy trail
  • Loop
  • No tree cover
  • Steep Elevation gain and flat areas
  • Closest parking area: Parking lot 1

Trailhead directions: Trail starts at lot (The trail is easily accessed from all parking lots.)

Trail Highlights:

  • Wildflowers
  • Fantastic views of Denver
  • Fantastic views of the Front Range

Review:

Being connected to all but one of the trails in the park, you will sooner or later find yourself wandering along this snaking path as it winds through the park. This trail along with all of the other trails in the park is great for wildflowers during the spring, and if looking at flowers isn’t your thing, then look just about anywhere else and you will have a fantastic view, sometimes it is of the city, and others it is of the hog back. All of the trails in this park seem to be very popular for mountain bikers so stay alert and be on your toes if you are hiking. It is notable to mention that the trail is marked very well near the top of Green Mountain, but adequate signage is often missing at the trailheads.

The Boulder/Golden Map #100 does not depict the trails in this park as clearly as it should. The map does not represent the trail as a loop. This is partially due to the trail using an access road on the west side to reconnect with the single track portion that loops around to the east side of the mountain, this is very easy to overlook on the trail with map in hand.

Hayden Trail

Difficulty Rank7 (Moderate)
Views Rank6
Distance Rank1.6 Miles
Time NeededAbout 37 Minutes
Trail winding up the side of Green Mountain.
Green Mountain

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Green Mountain Trail
  • Very busy trail
  • Steep elevation gain
  • No tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Parking lot 2

Trailhead directions: Trail starts at the parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Wildflowers
  • Fantastic views of Denver
  • Fantastic views of the Front Range

Review:

Not as steep as some of the other climbs in the park, but with great views as you climb to the top of green mountain. Like all the other trails in the park there are no trees and mountain bikers are either climbing away or descending from the clouds with unbridled vigor. This is probably the most popular trail in the park and is well marked on both ends.

North Access Trail

Difficulty Rank8 (Hard)
Views Rank5
Distance Rank2 Miles
Time NeededAbout 63 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Summit Loop
  • Steep elevation gain
  • No tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Parking lot 1

Trailhead directions: Trail starts at the north side of the parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Wildflowers
  • Fantastic views of Denver
  • Fantastic views of the Front Range

Review:

The only reason this trail gets a lower views score than the other trails is because there is a giant tower constantly looming over you as you hike the hill side, other than that the same great views you get with the other trails on this side of the park apply to this one once you reach the summit. This trail is definitely less popular with the mountain biking crowd, it is also very steep due to the lack of switchbacks on the main trail and littered with loose rocks.

Rooney Valley Trail

Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank3
Distance Rank3.4 Miles
Time NeededAbout 1 Hour

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Green Mountain Trail
  • Strong Elevation gain
  • No tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Parking lot 4

Trailhead directions: Trail starts after you cross the pedestrian bridge

Trail Highlights:

  • Wildflowers
  • Fantastic views of Denver
  • Excellent views of the Front Range

Review:

If you are starting this hike from the top of Green Mountain, there are 3 possible places to start the trail, all lead down to a junction with the portion of the trail that leads down the hill. Note that the two farthest out trailheads are marked and the one in the center is not marked. Along the path there is a paragliding launch area that is open to use to those that have the appropriate permits. As you continue down the path you will come to a valley flanked on both sides by vigorous brush growth and home to the occasional mule deer. When you reach the cruxes of the valley, about 1 mile down there are two options available. You can either head down an unmarked trail another half mile and rejoin the Green Mountain trail, or the other option sticks to the side of the hill and continues around the park and terminates near parking lot 3 on the southeast side of the park. If you are using the Boulder/Golden 100 map you will see that this trail is not present on the map, but it is depicted on the trail map in the park, so you may want to snap a picture of the sign before you head out.

Summit Loop Trail

Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank8
Distance Rank2.7 Miles
Time NeededAbout 1 Hour
View of wildflowers from top of Green Mountain
Green Mountain

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Green Mountain Trail
  • Moderate Elevation gain
  • No tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Parking lot 4:

Trailhead directions: Start at Rooney parking lot | L-Box O Rox | L-Summit Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Wildflowers
  • Fantastic views of Denver
  • Escellent views of the Front Range

Review:

Aerial views of Golden and Denver on the same trail with the turn of a head Summit loop delivers big time. What more could you ask for? Maybe a couple shade trees, but you get what you get and you don’t throw a fit. This trail wanders along the northern section of the park near the summit of Green Mountain and has some very impressive views of Golden, Denver metro area and well out to the northern Front Range. Again this trail is not accurately depicted on the map so take a look at the .gpx files, or take a picture of the park map. The trail is well signed and easy to follow so you need not worry about getting lost.

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

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Flying J Ranch Park

Overview

Flying J Ranch park is so close to Denver and so far away from it all. The Park is an excellent place to take the family for a peaceful outing into nature. The main trail Shadow Pine loop is an easy trail that leads you through a dense lodge pole pine forest and back to a beautiful wetlands area. If you are not looking to do the whole 3 miles of the trail there is a service road that intersects the trail so you can cut a considerable portion of the distance of the trail off. The picnic areas are very clean and many are handicap accessible. Plenty of parking is available and an opportunity to see a wide variety of wildlife exists within the park.

4.7 Miles of Trails

Park Details:

  • Dogs are allowed on a leash
  • Hikers on all trails
  • Mountain Bikers on all trails
  • Centaurs Equestrians on all trails
  • There are clean very nice restrooms near the picnic area that emit zero odors. (Flush toilets)
  • Picnic areas are handicap accessible
  • All of the trails are well marked and easy to follow.
  • No camping allowed in the park
  • Park hours are one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset
  • No hunting or firearms allowed
  • There are ample picnic areas
  • 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 Flying J Ranch Park.

You are also free to use our free GPX files to help plan your trip.

Shadow Pine Loop

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)3 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)4
Distance2.9 miles
Time NeededAbout 1 Hour

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Junction House trail
  • Gradual elevation changes
  • Part of the trail enters into Denver Mountain parks area.
  • Slight elevation changes
  • Mostly forest hiking
  • Closest parking area: Flying J Ranch parking area

Trailhead directions: Trail starts at the parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Thick lodge pole pine forest
  • Great meadow views
  • Great wetland views

Review:

Shadow Pine loop is an easy trail with a lot of great natural views along the way. Whether it’s hiking past the beautiful meadows or through the closely packed lodge pole pines there’s something special throughout the entire trail.  Near the middle of the trail there is a small wetlands area with a wooden pathway that makes for an ideal spot to rest on a bench and listen to the birds sing. This path is quite popular with the locals and you may see bear or elk depending on the time of year that you are visiting the park. If you need to head back sooner than anticipated there is a service road that can be taken at the halfway point back to the parking area.

Junction House Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)3 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)4
Distance0.6 miles
Time NeededAbout 15 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Shadow Pine Loop trail
  • Small parking area that located outside and to the south of the main park entrance
  • Little elevation change
  • Most of the trail is exposed
  • Closest parking area: Flying J Ranch parking area

Trailhead directions: Trail starts at the parking lot and leads to a parking area outside the park.

Trail Highlights:

  • Meadow trail
  • OneSunChasers favorite trail in this park

Review:

This is used mainly as an access trail to get to the Shadow Pine Loop trail in the park itself. This trail starts at a little parking area just outside the park, which is excellent if the parking lot is full. The trail allows you to slow down and watch the traffic pass by at a safe distance and hike alongside Turkey Creek for a short while before swinging west to join Shadow Pine loop.

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?