Apex Park

Overview

A mountain biker’s mecca, Apex park has some very popular trails that won’t take you hours to reach. The park is located right outside of Golden near the Heritage Square parking lot. The restroom facilities are top notch and there is ample parking at the Colfax area lot along with extended spaced for those taking their Centaur friends out for a nice day on the trail. While we are on the topic of mystical creatures it’s important to note that you should feel free to bring your dog to the park but please do remember that the “Chocolate Fairy” leaves lots of bags in the area and no one wants to confuse your best friends dinner remnants with a glorious bag of free chocolate. The northern section of the park houses a protected area for butterflies and during the spring and summer you can gather some stunning pictures of butterflies doing butterfly type things. The tree cover in the park is sporadic so high exposure is likely on the trails within this park, plan accordingly and wear something to protect you from the sun.

Road Tolls in Apex Park
Road Tolls in Apex Park

9.6 miles of trails

Park Details

  • Hiking on all trails
  • Mountain biking on all trails (There are specific directions of travel on a few trails for Mountain bikers  on odd numbered days. Make sure you follow the signs.)
  • Centaurs Equestrians
  • There is a protected butterfly area along the Grubstake trail
  • Clean odor free restrooms
  • Dogs allowed but must be leashed
  • Ample parking
  • Park open 1 hour before and after sunset
  • Drinking or drug use in the park is prohibited
  • Weapons are not allowed
  • No overnight camping
  • Trails are well marked
  • No entrance fees

Emergency contacts:

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

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map

Downloadable map of the area can be found at Jefferson County Parks Free GPX files can also assist in planning your next hiking trip.

Argos Trail

Rocky path looking at Green Mountain
Rocky path looking at Green Mountain
Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)6
Distance0.6 miles
Time Needed12 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Pick N Sledge, and Apex trail
  • Mountain bikers must follow specific directions of travel on certain days. Signs on the trail will indicate what you need to do.

Trailhead: S – Apex Trail | R – Argos

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Denver
  • Views of Golden
Green Mountain from Apex Park
Green Mountain from Apex Park

Review:

When you start off in Apex park you are quickly presented with a couple hiking options, following the Apex trail which runs the length of the park, or taking the Argos trail for the first portion of the park. If you are looking to hike the park’s northern trails and looking for less tree cover and views of the Denver and Golden area, Argos will be a more efficient route than taking Apex to Pick n sledge, and up to the trails in the northern section of the park. The trail is moderately steep and nearly entirely exposed on the west side of the mountain. The trail is well marked and easy to follow with only a couple switchbacks.

Apex Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)6
Distance2.6 miles
Time Needed1 hour

Details:

  • Connects with Argos, Pick N Sledge, Hardscrabble, and Enchanted Forest trails.
  • Mountain bikers must follow specific directions of travel in sections of this trail. Signs on the trail will indicate what you need to do.
  • Most of the hikes in the Apex park connect to this trail.

Trailhead: Starts at the parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Runs along Lena Gulch
  • Treed valley with a lot of natural beauty
Apex Trail
Apex Trail

Review:

This trail is moderate with a fair amount of elevation gain in places, but with enough flat hiking to not wear you out too much. Lena Gulch runs the length of the trail offering you ample opportunity to view wildlife partaking in the life giving waters that flow down the valley. Certain times of year will also offer a spectacular display of both wildflower and cactus in bloom. When hiking this trail keep in mind that it is very popular even on the weekdays, due to it being an absolutely beautiful hike and also being very close to Denver. I highly suggest you follow the trail to the end and take the Enchanted forest trail back to its junction with the Apex trail near the halfway point. All of the trails in this park are well marked and you should have no problems with navigation.

Apex Spur Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance0.2 Miles
Time Needed5 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Apex Trail
  • Short trail that can be used to connect with the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve

Trailhead: S – Lookout Mountain Road. or S – Apex trail | R – Apex Spur Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of the valley
  • Ability to connect with different parks

Review:

This ohh so short spur trail runs from the junction of Apex trail and Enchanted Forest trail up to Lookout Mountain road, where just a short saunter down Lookout Mountain Road and a left onto Colorow Road will let you jump on the Lookout Mountain Trail. From there you can connect with the trails in the Lookout Mountain Nature Center and Preserve. For those that have to ask YES it is entirely necessary to saunter the entire way to the Nature Preserve. Remember this is a mystical area and I cannot be held responsible for those that deviate from the required gait.

Enchanted Forest

Enchanted Forest trail
Enchanted Forest trail
Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)8
Distance1.4 miles
Time Needed30 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Apex and Hardscrabble trails.
  • Mountain bikers must follow specific directions of travel on this entire trail. Signs on the trail will indicate what you need to do.
  • Connects to the Apex trail in two places to form a loop trail.

Trailhead: S – Apex | L – Enchanted Forest

Trail Highlights:

  • Thick beautiful forest
  • Lena Gulch
Tangled roots on trail
Tangled roots on trail

Review:

This trail is very appropriately named, as soon as you start to see the signs you will feel as though you are being transported into another world. There is plenty to see and lots of small forest creatures enjoying the shade and protection of the forest. While there are some rather steep inclines in portions of this trail over all it is not too strenuous, and I have seen many a wee human frollicking under the shady cannopy of the forest. There are a couple of creek crossings that are mild and should be crossable without getting wet.

Hardscrabble

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance0.3 miles
Time Needed7 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects to Sluicebox and Apex trail.
  • Little tree cover

Trailhead: S – Apex | R – Hardscrabble

Trail Highlights:

  • Great aerial views of the valley

Review:

Given the name one would anticipate a real struggle on this trail, but the elevation gain is moderate and not to technical at any given point. The modest tree cover along this trail creates several great spots worthy of a rest and gander upon the valley below, but the trail is in my opinion less difficult than most of the other trails that make up the northern section of the park.

Sluicebox

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)7 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)6
Distance0.7 miles
Time Needed14 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects to Hardscrabble, Pick N Sledge Bonanza, and Grubstake trails.
  • Technical if you are mountain biking
  • Steep
  • Little tree cover

Trailhead: S – Apex | R – Sluicebox

Trail Highlights:

  • Technical rocks for mountain biking
  • Fairly steep

Review:

Several switchbacks make up the core of this trail snaking up the side of the mountain. The elevation change is strong and the tree cover weak, so if it’s a hot day you will be getting your sweat on. The trail is more technical than some of the other trails in the park, but if you are hiking there is nothing too demanding about the trail aside from the elevation gains.

Pick N Sledge

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)7 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)6
Distance1.6 miles
Time Needed36 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Argo, Grubstake, and Sluicebox trails

Trailhead: S – Apex | R – Pick N Sledge

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of the remains of Heritage Square

Review:

Some technical sections with a good variety of hill climbs and flats make this a great trail for both hiking and biking. There is a fair amount of tree cover once you near the top of the mountain, but most of the trail is exposed so a hat or sunscreen is a good idea if you are taking this trail.

Grubstake

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)6
Distance1.0 miles
Time Needed32 Minutes

Details:

Connects with Sluicebox, Pick N Sledge, and Bonanza trails

Trail Highlights:

  • Forested on the north west portion of the trail

Review:

Grubsteak is a great trail if you are looking to make a loop trail with some elevation gains. Fortunately this trail has some tree cover towards the middle of the hike, which gives some relief from the sun on those warm summer days. There is a healthy population of Ebert squirrels in the area messing about, and the forest is beautiful at the top of the mountain where this trail runs. The forest is very similar to the Enchanted Forest Trail, but not quite as dense or steep.

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.

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.

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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!

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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

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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?