White Ranch Park

White Ranch Park Overview

White Ranch Park has everything you need for a great day and relaxing night complete with free camping near Denver. While most parks covered in these posts do not allow overnight camping this is one of the two exceptions to the rule. As far a hiking goes there are amazing trails all over this park, and enough of them to keep you going for quite some time. The scenery on the trails is great and the views of Denver and North Table Mountain are memorable to say the least.

White Ranch Park Free Camping

If you are looking for some good free semi primitive camping there are two walk in tent only campgrounds within this park that are available to those who have obtained a free permit from the Jefferson county parks office during normal business hours. The park does provide firewood, clean pit toilets (within walking distance of the campsites), non potable water to put out fires, and nice pads for tents, there however is no hammock camping allowed. There are some very reasonable rules and regulations to follow that can all be found on their web site Jefferson County Parks

20.9 miles of Trails

White Ranch Park Details

  • Camping allowed in park with free permit
  • Hiking allowed
  • Mountain Biking allowed
  • Centaur Equestrian use allowed
  • Dogs allowed but must be leashed
  • Ample parking at both lots
  • Park open one hour before and one hour after sunset
  • Drinking or drug use is not permitted in the park
  • No weapons allowed
  • Trails are well marked
  • No entrance fees

Emergency contacts:

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

Camping Permit availability (303) 271-5925

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Belcher Hill Trail

Wood foot bridge leading into White Ranch Park
Wood foot bridge
Difficulty Rank7 (Hard)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank4.4 Miles
Time Needed0 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Mustang, Whippletree, longhorn, Sawmill and Round Up Loop Trails.
  • Steep at times
  • Decent tree cover

Trailhead: S – East parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Denver

Review:

Beginning Beltcher Hill from the lower lot will require crossing through several gates to get to the park. This area is surrounded by private property sporting massive houses, at one point you will need to cross over a driveway to regain the trail. Once you pass a valley with a small stream you are back within the park, and the fence slowly begins to gets farther away from the trail. The first section of the trail is steep, but not overly demanding. Once you round the bend and the lifestyles of the rich and the famous retreat from view, the trail begins to get rocky and steep again. Upon reaching the trail junction with Mustang trail, Belcher trail becomes less strenuous. Continuing on from the three way junction with sawmill trail the path becomes quite steep and the views go from good to great.

Whippletree

Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank0.6 Miles
Time Needed13 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Belcher Hill, and Longhorn Trails.
  • Fairly flat trail
  • No much for tree cover

Trailhead: East Lot | S – Belcher Hill | R – Whippletree

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Ralston Reservoir

Review:

After a nice little climb of belcher hill from the east parking lot you have the chance to jump onto the Whipple tree trail and take in some nice views of Ralston reservoir and the view of the Front Range as is stretches out towards Boulder. The trail is not difficult to hike and there is little in the way of tree cover to shade you from the sun or block your view.

Longhorn Trail

Difficulty Rank7 (Hard)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank3.1 Miles
Time Needed0 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Shorthorn, Belcher hill, Maverick and Rawhide Trails.
  • Sporadic tree cover
  • Steep most of the way

Trailhead: Belcher Hill Lot | S – West side of the Rawhide Trail | R- Longhorn Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Fantastic views of Ralston reservoir
  • Canyon rocks views are great

Review:

Lots of jagged rocks and plenty of steep terrain make this a technical trail if you are on a mountain bike. The views like most the rest in the park are great. The trail is steep for most of the climb, but not so steep that you will be using three points of contact or struggling to keep your footing. While there are some trees along the trail there is a fair amount of exposure so sunscreen and an ample supply of water will be much appreciated along this hike.

Shorthorn

Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank5
Distance Rank1.1 Miles
Time Needed26 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Longhorn Trail
  • Mild tree cover
  • Not as rocky as Longhorn
  • Not as steep as Longhorn

Trailhead: Belcher hill parking area | S – Rawhide trail | R – Longhorn trail | R – Shorthorn trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of North Table Mountain
  • Views of Denver

Review:

The Shorthorn trail lacks the incline and rockiness that the Longhorn trail has, but the views are similar and you still get a good bit of cardio along the way. There is a fair amount of tree cover along this trail as you weave in and out of the trees to meet back up with the Longhorn trail, but the forest is not so thick that you will be missing the view from the trail.

Mustang Trail

Difficulty Rank 7 (Hard)
Views Rank6
Distance Rank2.5 Miles
Time Needed95 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Belcher Hill, and Sawmill Trails
  • Steep in places
  • Good tree cover

Trailhead: West parking area | S – Rawhide (western) | L – Belcher Trail | C – (Strait) Mustang Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Beautiful forest
  • Seasonal stream

Review:

Mustang is a fantastic trail if you are looking to make a nice forested loop in the park’s lower section. Due to its location and connection to other trails it will surely be mixed in if you are combining trails to make a grand loop hike. The views are great as you travel through the valley and wrap around back to belcher hill trail. The trail is steep but not as rocky strewn as some of the trails in the northeastern portion of the park. There is strong tree cover for most of the trail so exposure is not too much of a problem.

Round Up Loop

Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank5
Distance Rank0.4 Miles
Time Needed7 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Belcher Hill Trail
  • Minor elevation change
  • Mostly treed

Trailhead: East parking area | S – Belcher Hill Trail | R – Round-up Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Mountain Meadow views
  • Strong tree cover

Review:

This short little u trail will give you a chance to jump off belcher hill relax and slow the pace a little. The views are decent from the trail and the tree cover is not too shabby if I do say so myself. The trail is narrow and some tall grasses flank the trail on both sides below the forest canopy, so if  you happen to encounter someone else on this trail someone will need to step off as there is not enough room for two people to pass shoulder to shoulder.

Sawmill Trail

Difficulty Rank 5 (Moderate)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank1.4 Miles
Time Needed30 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Belcher Hill Trail
  • Light tree cover

Trailhead: Belcher Hill parking area | S – Sawmill Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Camping with permit in designated sites along this trail.
  • Beautiful Meadow views
  • Great views of North Table Mountain and Denver

Review:

Sawmill Trails upper portion is a very easy stroll with some great views of Denver. The path starts as a single track running through a sea of grasses dancing across the horizon with the wind. If there are clouds in the sky they tend to make intriguing shapes over the northern sections of the park that are tucked farther into the mountains, and along Ralston Butte. Upon reaching the trees Sawmill curves to the left and becomes a road, a little farther down the trail as you round the corner, where Belcher Hill trail intersects sawmill trail. The trail sweeps to the south west and stays wide to accommodate parks trucks used to deliver firewood, and water to the free campsites. Once you pass the free campgrounds the trail begins to narrow again and has slight more elevation change until it terminates at the junction with Mustang trail.

Maverick Trail

Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank1 Miles
Time Needed20 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Longhorn Trail and Belcher Hill Trails.
  • Low to Moderate tree cover

Trailhead: West parking area | S – Picnic access trail | R – Longhorn Trail | R – Maverick Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Good views
  • variety of lovely scenery

Review:

One mile of sweet hiking connects the eastern sections of park trails to the western section of park trails. The elevation gains/losses are not as significant as some of the other trails in the park, but there is enough there to keep the heart thumping when you are traveling at a decent pace. The trail is not as rock strewn as some of the trails on the eastern portion of the park, but there are still a couple minor obstacles to negotiate. If you are hiking this trail in the winter there are some portions of the trail tucked into the more northern faces that are likely to accumulate snow early and hold onto it longer becoming a little slick.

Rawhide Trail

Difficulty Rank 7 (Difficult)
Views Rank8
Distance Rank5.4 Miles
Time Needed144 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Longhorn, Wranglers Run, and Waterhole Trails.
  • Decent tree cover
  • Trail starts off wide and turns to single track

Trailhead: S – Belcher Hill parking area

Trail Highlights:

  • Several minor water crossings
  • Great views of Ralston reservoir
  • Fantastic views of the rock cliffs near Ralston reservoir

Review:

The Rawhide trail begins as an easy stroll with some epic mountain views from the bowl shaped area between the surrounding mountains. This section of the park must make some interesting air flow higher up, because the clouds here form interesting shapes. The trail is wide, easy to follow, and can easily facilitate travelers bidirectionally. By the time you reach the Waterhole trail the path narrows down and the trail becomes more difficult, but the views get a whole lot better. To the northeast of the trail lays the Ralston butte towering over Ralston reservoir, which comes into view on the more eastern portion of the trail. There are a few areas along the eastern half of the trail , after the second junction with waterhole trail, where if you are riding a mountain bike you may need to get off the bike and walk over a few of the obstacles.

Wranglers Run

Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank5
Distance Rank0.3 Miles
Time Needed6 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Rawhide Trail
  • No tree cover
  • Not very steep

Trailhead: S –  Rawhide trail | R or L Wrangler Run depending on direction of travel

Trail Highlights:

  • Small Creek along south of the path

Review:

If you are not looking to venture into the northern reaches of the park the Wrangler run trail is a great option to loop you back around to the parking area again. The trail is short with no tree cover and rests in a valley feed with a little creek. Near the junction with the east side of the Rawhide trail there is a small thicket that is filled with the songs of birds during the warmer seasons.

Waterhole

Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank5
Distance Rank0.3 Miles
Time Needed12 Minutes

Details:

  • Connects with Rawhide Trail
  • Decent tree cover

Trailhead: S – Rawhide trail | R or L – depending on direction of travel

Trail Highlights:

  • Camping in designated spots with prior free permit
Picnic table at free campsite close to Golden Colorado.
Picnic table at free campsite

Review:

Mostly used as a connecting trail for the campsites (Number 7 is my favorite). The first section of the trail if you are coming from the farther north reaches of the park, leads down into a little meadow that is quickly overtaken by trees. As you enter the trees there will be a fork in the road/trail, that serves as an access road for the parks department. You will want to veer to the right and follow the trail as it hides in the trees just outside the reaches of the meadow. As you round the turn and rise through the forest you will start to come across the camp sites. If you continue the trail you will come to the second junction with the Rawhide trail and the restrooms. There is also a large map of the park near this junction.

Heil Ranch

Overview

Heil ranch went through a controlled burn recently and the signs of the work performed are evident. There are  several swaths of trees along the wapiti trail and Ponderosa trail that are standing dead with the traces of licking flames on the trunks. There is a wealth of stacked stone buildings within the park boundary from time past that have fallen under the hands of time. Be on the lookout for wildlife as the area is teeming with creatures both large and small.

For current trail conditions and news visit Boulder County’s


14.6 miles of trails 

Park Details:

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

Emergency contacts:

Boulder County Ranger District @ (303) 541-2500

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

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map

Rocky Overlook in Heil Ranch Park
Rocky Overlook in Heil Ranch Park

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

Wapiti Trail

Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank4
Distance Rank2.8 Miles
Time Needed65 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: with Ponderosa Trail
  • Easy trail
  • Little elevation change
  • Mostly exposed hiking

Trailhead: Trail starts at main parking area

Wapiti Trail Highlights:

  • Neat stone houses left as rubble
  • Forest is burned in places
  • Lots of sandstone on the trail
  • Popular centaur trail

Review:

The Wapiti trail along with all the others in the park is not too steep, and only offers hikers some sporadic tree cover. The first section of the trail starts off on an access road that soon veers to the left onto a smaller single track path with great views of the valley below. Near the end of the trail where the Ponderosa trail meets the Wapiti trail there is a very nice stone stacked cabin that has certainly felt the cold embraces of the hands of time. There is no roof on the structure and several of the walls have considerable holes in them (Perhaps from menacing Minotaur hammer smashing bouts).

Ponderosa Trail

Distant Mountains from Heil Ranch Park
Distant Mountains from Heil Ranch Park
Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank7
Distance Rank2.6 Miles
Time Needed146 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: with Wild Turkey and Wapiti Trails
  • Easy trail
  • Little elevation change
  • Mostly exposed
  • Large burn area

Trailhead: S – Wapiti trail | L Or R Ponderosa Loop

Ponderosa Trail Highlights:

  • Striking views at the scenic overlook where the Wild Turkey Trail meets the Ponderosa Trail for the second time.
  • Stone foundation at first trail junction with Wild Turkey trail

Review:

Ponderosa loop has a fair amount of trees some of which were also part of the recent prescribed burn area, so plan ahead and put on some sunscreen before you head out. The trail has very mild elevation changes and is a good hike for all ages, just bare in mind that the trek in along with this loop will be just shy of 8 miles. If you are visiting the park during the spring and summer the flies may be engaged in an epic battle with the invading nat population for control of the area. While major casualties are unlikely extreme annoyance is highly probable.  

Wild Turkey Trail

Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank5
Distance Rank2.9 Miles
Time Needed70 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Ponderosa and Picnic Rock trails
  • Mild elevation change
  • Views of the plains
  • Small amount of trees along the trail

Trail S – Wapiti | R – Ponderoas Loop | L – Wild Turkey trail or

Trail S – Wapiti | R- Ponderosa Loop | C – Ponderosa Loop | R – Wild Turkey

Wild Turkey Trail Highlights:

  • Stone Foundation at the first trail junction with Ponderosa loop
  • Views at the end of the trail are quite good

Review:

Mountain Meadow in Heil Ranch
Mountain Meadow in Heil Ranch

Wild Turkey dances through meadows and dodges in an out of the trees. Shockingly just like those individuals that have consumed too much of the fluid that is sold under the same name. But all Joking aside the trail is quite good there is a fair amount of tree cover and connections with nearly all the trails in the park. The mountain meadow views are great and you can see far out on the plains below as you hike along the trail.

Lichen Loop Trail

Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank5
Distance Rank1.0 Miles
Time needed to hike23 Minutes
Foot Bridge in Heil Ranch
Foot Bridge

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Wapiti trail
  • Hiker only
  • Easy hike
  • Slight elevation change
  • Mostly forested

Trailhead: Parking area

Lichen Loop Trail Highlights:

  • Informative signs along the trail
  • Lush dense forest for most of the trail
  • Close to the main parking lot

Review:

Coming in at a mile, this easy hike has gradual elevation changes and is in close proximity to the main parking area, making this trail a great option for quick visits and those with small children or elderly that want to be in nature without venturing too far.

Picture Rock Trail

Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank8
Distance Rank5.3 Miles
Time Needed105 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Wild Turkey trail
  • Gradual Elevation change
  • Mostly exposed hiking

Trailhead:Starts at Picture Rock Parking Area

Picture Rock Trail Highlights:

  • Most Amazing picnic table in Colorado with the most Amazing view.
  • Old abandoned Farm buildings
  • Old Abandoned Cars on trail
  • Remains of Stacked Stone Buildings
Looking over stacked stone wall in Heil Ranch
Stacked Stone Wall

Review:

This is by far my favorite hike in the park, the views of the valley that reach out towards Lyons are amazing. The trail is very popular with runners and mountain bikers so you are likely to have plenty of company along this trail.  About half way through the trail is quite possibly the best picnic area in the state. The large stone picnic table tucked under the trees would be the perfect place to watch the sun come up over the surrounding mountains with a cup of coffee. Farther along the trail there are several old farm buildings in various state of repair and a couple old vehicles that have been used as target practice.

Button Rock Nature Preserve

Overview

Button Rock Nature Preserve is where to hike when you are looking for an area as beautiful as Rocky Mountain National park, without the crowds.  There are a trails from all skill levels, from nice flat wide dirt roads to steep trails with outstanding views. Waterfall seekers will be pleased to know that the preserve has a beautiful waterfall at the end of an easy hike. This is also a great place to do some river fishing, just make sure you have the appropriate licenses. 


5.3 miles of trails

Park Details:

  • Hiking
  • Dogs are allowed but must be leashed
  • There are a couple of marked off leash trails
  • Fishing (In places you will need a state fishing license and a longmont license keep an eye out for the signage to know where you can legally fish)
  • No overnight parking
  • Camping is prohibited
  • Fires are not allowed
  • Hunting is not allowed
  • Bicycles are prohibited
  • No Centaurs Equestrians
  • Boats or floating devices are not allowed
  • No swimming

Emergency contacts:

Boulder County Ranger District @ (303) 541-2500

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map

Ribbon Waterfall near the North Saint Vrain
Ribbon Waterfall near the North Saint Vrain

Free downloadable maps are available from City of Longmont.  Another good planning resource is the Boulder/Golden #100 Map, along with our free GPX files to help plan your next adventure in the Rocky Mountains. 

Sleepy Lion Trail

Difficulty Rank 7 (Moderate)
Views Rank8
Distance Rank2.3 Miles
Time Needed68 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: Button Creek Dam Trail
  • Dogs do not need to be on a leash
  • Steep in places
  • Good tree cover

Trailhead: S – Button Creek Dam Trail | R – Sleepy Lion Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of the dam are great near the summit
  • Great hike for wildflowers during spring and summer
  • Views of Ralph Pierce Reservoir

Review:

The trail is actually a very large loop that begins off the Button Creek Dam trail and loops around to the rear side of the dam outlet. The trail offers some decent tree cover and there are plenty of wildflowers in the meadows up the hill if you are hiking in the spring or summer. While the east side has a moderate to occasionally steep climb, the western section of the trail is rather steep. At about a mile in you will have the chance to jump on the Button Rock which leads into the Hall ranch area. If you are hiking with a dog, or are a mythical Centaur however you better stick to the Button Rock Nature preserve as neither creature is allowed in the Hall Ranch Park.

Button Creek Dam Trail

Difficulty Rank4 (Easy)
Views Rank8
Distance Rank2.3 Miles
Time Needed55 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting Trails: To North Shore, and Sleepy Lion S Trails
  • Slight elevation gain until you reach the dam
  • High exposure to the elements

Trailhead : Starts at parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Follows the Saint Vrain Creek
  • Ralph Pierce Reservoir

Review:

Most of the trail is a dirt road skirting the Saint Vrain river as it leads up to the dam. The first ¾ of the trail is very easy having little elevation change, and sparse tree cover. Once you reach the discharge area for the Ralph Pierce reservoir, and manage to pull yourself away from the very intense water flow gushing out at least 100 yards before hitting the water in the Saint Vrain, you start to climb the dam. The trail becomes very steep  as you follow the switchbacks up the 200 foot climb in about a quarter mile. The views on top of the dam are breathtaking. I would highly recommend hiking the path along the shoreline to the north shore trail back down, as there is a very beautiful veil waterfall about halfway down the trail. There is also a very large steel bridge crosses the river.

Trail To North Shore

Ralph Price Reservoir from the North Shore
Ralph Price Reservoir from the North Shore
Difficulty Rank5 (Moderate)
Views Rank10
Distance Rank0.6 Miles
Time Needed14 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trails: Button Rock Dam Trail
  • Exposed to the elements the whole way
  • Fairly Steep
  • Wide dirt road

Trailhead: S – Button rock Dam road | R – Trail to North shore

Trail Highlights:

  • Beautiful Waterfall

Review:

Right off of the Button Creek dam trail there is a restroom and a large service style road that leads to the north shore. This trail is very exposed with little to no tree cover, but is a short easy hike that leads to some beautiful waterfalls and a very large steel bridge. Don’t forget the camera as this whole area is very beautiful. The trail continues on up the hill and connects with the Button Creek dam trail again at the top of the dam.

Bald Mountain

Overview

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

1 Mile of Trail

Park Details:

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

Emergency contacts:

Boulder County Ranger District @ (303) 541-2500

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

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map:

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

View from Bald Mountain near Boulder Colorado
View from Bald Mountain

Pines to Peak Loop

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

Details:

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

Trailhead:Starts at the parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of the mountains all around
  • Views of Boulder

Review:

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

Hall Ranch

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

Wildflowers and Rocky Mountains
Wildflowers and Rocky Mountains

11.8 miles of trails on this guide

Park Details:

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

Emergency contacts:

Boulder County Ranger District @ (303) 541-2500

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

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map

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

Nighthawk Trail:

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

Details:

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

Trailhead: Starts at the parking area

Trail Highlights:

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

Review:

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

Nelson Loop Trail

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

  • Old farm buildings
  • Very nice wooden bridge

Review:

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

Bitterbrush Trail

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

Details:

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

Trailhead: Starts at the parking area

Trail Highlights:

  • Great views

Review:

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

Antelope Trail

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

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Bitterbrush trail
  • Mostly exposed hike

Trailhead: Starts at parking area of Antelope Dr.

Trail Highlights:

  • Great Mountain and valley views

Review:

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