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.

Advertisements

Mount Falcon Park

Overview

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

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

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

12.2 Miles of Trails

Park Details:

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

Emergency contacts:

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

Quick Reference Map

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

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

Castle Trail

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

Details:

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

Trailhead directions: Starts at both parking areas

Trail Highlights:

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

Review:

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

Devil’s Elbow Trail

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

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

Review:

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

Old Ute Trail

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

  • Can easily be incorporated into longer looping trails.

Review:

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

Meadow Trail

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

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

Review:

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

Parmalee Trail

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

  • Abundance of wildlife
  • Excellent views of US 285

Review:

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

Tower Trail

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

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

Review:

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

Turkey Trot Trail

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

  • Great views of Denver
  • Great views of Red Rocks

Review:

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

Two Dogs Trail

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

  • Grand views of the Denver area

Review:

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

Walker’s Dream Trail

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

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

Review:

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

All the information listed in this post is also available in an E-book which can be purchased from Amazon. Please consider purchasing a copy, or one of the other outdoor guides we have available!

Front Range Hikes

Looking for Free Colorado Camping?

Red Rocks Park

Overview

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

Park Details:

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

Emergency contacts:

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

If the event is life threatening dial: 911

Quick Reference Map

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

Mount Morrison

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

Details:

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

Trailhead directions: Trail is right off the road

Trail Highlights:

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

Review:

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

Mount Vernon Trail

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

Details:

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

Trailhead directions: Trail is right off the road

Trail Highlights:

  • Magnificent close up views of Red Rocks

Review:

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

Red Rocks Trail

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

Details:

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

Trailhead directions: Trail starts on Red Rock Parks Rd.

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Red Rocks

Review:

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

Red Rocks Trading Post Trail

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

Details:

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

Trailhead directions: Starts and ends at the parking lot

Trail Highlights:

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

Review:

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

All the information listed in this post is also available in an E-book which can be purchased from Amazon. Please consider purchasing a copy, or one of the other outdoor guides we have available!

Front Range Hikes

Looking for Free Colorado Camping?

Matthew Winters Park

Overview

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

9.2 Miles of Trails

Park Details:

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

Emergency contacts:

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

If the event is life threatening dial: 911

Quick Reference Map

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

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

Bail out

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

  • Connection to Red Rocks Park trails

Review:

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

Cherry Gulch Trail

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

  • Small creek

Review:

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

Dakota Ridge

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

Details:

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

Trailhead directions: Starts at the parking lot

Trail Highlights:

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

Review:

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

Morrison Slide

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

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

Review:

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

Village Walk

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

Details:

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

Trailhead directions: Trail starts from parking lot

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Dakota Ridge

Review:

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

Zorro

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

  • Connects Green Mountain and Matthew Winters Park

Review:

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

All the information listed in this post is also available in an E-book which can be purchased from Amazon. Please consider purchasing a copy, or one of the other outdoor guides we have available!

Front Range Hikes

Looking for Free Colorado Camping?

Lair O’ The Bear

Overview

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

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

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

5.8 Miles of Trails

Park Details:

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

Emergency contacts:

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

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map

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

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

Bear Creek Trail

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

Details:

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

Trailhead directions: Starts at both parking lots

Trail Highlights:

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

Review:

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

Bruin Bluff Trail

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

  • View of Bear Creek from above

Review:

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

Castor Cutoff Trail

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

Details:

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

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

Trail Highlights:

  • Views of meadow and Bruins Bluff

Review:

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

Creekside Trail

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

Details:

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

Trailhead directions: Trail starts from the parking lot

Trail Highlights:

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

Review:

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

All the information listed in this post is also available in an E-book which can be purchased from Amazon. Please consider purchasing a copy, or one of the other outdoor guides we have available!

Front Range Hikes

Looking for Free Colorado Camping?

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!

Front Range Hikes

Looking for Free Colorado Camping?

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

Looking for Free Colorado Camping?

Dedisse Park

Dedisse Park Overview

A part of Denver Mountain Parks system, Dedisse Park is nearly 30 miles west of Denver a little west of Evergreen, The Park offers several shelters that you can reserve for picnics by contacting the Denver Parks and Recreation permits office. There are a lot of little trails that meet up with the Dedisse trail within the park. Good tree cover makes for lots of shady spots to kick back and relax in the mountains; the hard part will be picking the bench you want to take in the views from.

3.6 Miles of Trails

Dedisse Park Details:

  • Dogs are allowed but must be leashed.
  • Hikers allowed
  • Mountain Bikers Allowed
  • Centaurs Equestrians
  • Climbing
  • No camping allowed in the parks
  • Park entrance is one hour before sunrise
  • Park closure is one hour after sunset
  • No hunting or firearms allowed
  • No Entrance fees

Emergency contacts:

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

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Evergreen Parks and Recreation @ (720) 880-1021 (7AM-7PM)

Denver Parks & Recreation Permit Office @ (720) 913-0700

Quick Reference Park Map

Dedisse Trail

Difficulty Rank6 (Moderate)
Views Rank6
Distance Rank2.3 Miles
Time NeededAbout 1 Hour

Dedisse Trail Details:

  • Connecting trails: Evergreen Lake Trail and Hidden Fawn Trail
  • Within Dedisse park parts of the trail are not marked well and there are many small paths
  • Good picnic shelters along the trail in Dedisse Park
  • Decent elevation change
  • Partially treed
  • Closest parking area: Lower lot off of Highway 74 as you enter the park

Trailhead directions: Right off of the road in several places.

Dedisse Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Evergreen Lake
  • Views of Upper Bear Creek
  • Creek Crossings via bridges
  • OneSunChasers favorite trail in this park

Dedisse Trail Review:

This is my second favorite of the Denver Mountain Parks hike within this guide. There is a good amount of elevation change and a lot of switchbacks to take you down or up depending on your direction of travel, so the trek is not too steep anywhere along the path. The trail is fairly well marked aside from all the little trails near Upper Bear Creek and on the north side of Upper Bear Creek Road. Along the way there are great views of the valley Evergreen High school sits in as well as views of Evergreen Lake and the golf course. There is a fair amount of tree cover, but there is also a long stretch where you will be exposed to the elements so dress appropriate for the weather and wear something to protect you from the sun.

Evergreen Lake Trail

View of Evergreen Lake
View of Evergreen Lake
Difficulty Rank2 (Easy)
Views Rank5
Distance Rank1.3 Miles
Time NeededAbout 25 Minutes

Evergreen Lake Trail Details:

  • Connecting trail: Dedisse Trail
  • Slight elevation change
  • Very little tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Evergreen lake parking lot

Trailhead directions: Start by boat ramp either R or L

Evergreen Lake Trail Highlights:

  • Lake views
  • Mountain Views
  • Close to great places to eat in Evergreen

Evergreen Lake Trail Review:

Evergreen lake trail circumnavigates the entirety of Evergreen Lake, and while this is more of a walk than a hike, I feel that the connection the trail makes to Alderfer/Three Sisters Park warrants its inclusion in the guide. The south side of the path is quite, while the northern side skirts Highway 74 and can be a bit on the loud side. Near the east side where Evergreen Lake flows back into bear creek again there is a great little place to hang out and explore. The western side of the path is a beautiful wetlands area that is teeming with birds in spring and summer.

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!

Beaver Brook Watershed

Beaver Brook Watershed Overview

Most of the trails in this area are not officially named, so some of the names that I have used for the paths are due to where they connect, or what notable features are located on them. The names given to the lesser traveled trails are merely for the sake of easier navigation and explanation. That being said this area is best visited with a GPS if you want to take some of the lesser traveled side trails as it is easy to get turned around. There are small paths and old logging roads traversing the area some leading to other trails, some leading to subdivisions and others to views of the watershed or abrupt endings in the forest.

Precautions

Please take extra caution when hiking in this area, there is a lot more wildlife and a lot fewer hikers and mountain bikers if you need assistance. The area is a beautiful lush forest that is in many places overtaking the trails and roads that traverse the area. It is very likely that you will see deer, elk and the occasional wild turkey sauntering through the forest doing the nature thing. Most of the trails are rather steep and many are quite long. Lastly come prepared for rapid changes in weather and let others know where you are going and when you plan to return.

15.5 Miles of trails

Park Details:

  • Hiking allowed
  • Mountain Biking allowed
  • Snowshoeing allowed
  • Cross country skiing allowed
  • Centaurs errr…. Equestrian
  • Picnicking
  • Dogs are allowed as long as they are on a leash
  • Motorized vehicles are not allowed
  • No shooting allowed
  • Camping allowed with a permit
  • Fishing allowed but you may need a permit
  • Area usage is one hour before sunrise until one hour after sunset
  • Neither you nor your animals are allowed in the water
  • No Entrance fees

Emergency contacts:

Clear Creek County Sheriff’s Office @ (303) 569-3232

Clear Creek County Sherriff’s Office @ (303) 679-2376

If the event is life threatening dial 911

Quick Reference Map:

Alternate Route

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance 1.1 Miles
Time NeededAbout 2 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Hidden Wilderness, and Flat top trail
  • Trail is hard to see at the top
  • Decent tree cover
  • Easy to follow for most of the trail

Trailhead directions: East parking lot | S – Beaver Brook Trail | R – Hidden Wilderness | L- Alternate Route

Trail Highlights:

  • Lush wetland area at top

Review:

You can access this trail from the Hidden Wilderness trail in three locations. The first junction is about 1.2 miles in and, just before the Hidden Wilderness trailheads to the west. The Alternate Route trail will be a well-defined trail leading up the hill to the West. Your second opportunity to join this trail comes as a very short spur trail running south southeast about 0.8 miles further along the Hidden Wilderness trail and again is well traveled and fairly easy to spot. The final upper junction is not so much a junction, as a wander through the woods, and takes some navigation through forest growth to find from the Hidden Wilderness trail. If you have reached the wetland area near the creek from the lower section of the Hidden Wilderness trail, you will want to cross the ravine where the creek runs, and hike up the hill a few hundred yards. You will find an overgrown logging trail that can marginally be followed as it passes over the wetlands area to the southeast and rejoins the trail. The upper portion of the trail is rock strewn and the forest is currently passionately taking the trail over again. For ease of navigation I suggest you take the .gpx files for the area and download them to your phone or a GPS unit. Most of the trail is wide and very easy to follow. It is only the upper section that is difficult to navigate, also expect s fair amount of sun exposure on the trail. The trail if hiked from the first terminus is gentle then becomes somewhat steep, but not overly grueling.

Beaver Brook Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)7 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance2.9 miles
Time NeededAbout 90 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Hidden Wilderness, Mushroom Trail, and Upper west Junction trail
  • Trail is steep in places
  • Mostly exposed trail
  • Starts at both parking areas

Trailhead directions: Starts at either parking area

Trail Highlights:

  • Creek and Creek Crossings
  • Beautiful Meadow views

Review:

This old logging/pipeline road serves as the starting point to the other adventurous trails that await you within the watershed. The path is moderately steep from both parking areas, but flattens out for about a half mile stretch as you reach the valley floor. The trail meanders along Beaver brook for a good portion of the hike as it runs down into the reservoir, and there are a couple very minor crossings along the way from small tributaries. The lush grasses that flank the more southern portion of the trail is a great place to spot the occasional deer or elk. The trail is rather wide for most of the trek so exposure may be more of an issue on this trail than some of the other hikes in this area.   

Beaver Brook Reservoir Trail

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

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Beaver Brook Trail
  • Easy terrain with slight elevations changes
  • Mostly exposed trail

Trailhead directions: East Parking Area | S – Beaver Brook Trail | R – Beaver Brook Reservoir Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Beautiful view of the reservoir
  • Amazing views of the saddle for Santa Fe Mountain and Squaw Mountain

Review:

This short trail will not disappoint, the views are some of the best in the park, and there are some spectacular views to be had in this area. The lower fork leads down to the reservoir and the upper fork leads to an outcropping that will have you staring off into the wilderness in awe. There were several little deer trails darting off here and there from the upper fork, I did not meander down those paths as most of them looked rather short and not well trodden. In all honesty the views on this slight trail make it my favorite in the park with the Overlook trail being a very close second.

East Overlook

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)8
Distance1.3 Miles
Time NeededAbout 25 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Hidden Wilderness trail
  • Easy trail to hike
  • Decent tree cover
  • Out and Back
  • Gradual elevation change

Trailhead directions: East parking area | S – Beaver Brook trail | R – Hidden Wilderness trail | R – East Overlook

Trail Highlights:

  • Fantastic views
  • Starts at a beautiful meadow

Review:

The beginning of this trail starts just off the Hidden Wilderness trail and juts off to the east through a meadow clearing. The trail regains the cover of trees again about half a mile in and never has a lot of elevation change. The trail is easy to follow and will lead you down to a rock outcropping before abruptly disappearing into the forest below. If you head in a southerly direction into the forest for a short distance from here, you will come to a beautiful rock outcropping overlooking the valley below all the way out to I-70. This is a really great trail and is not too demanding, although the hike to this location has some decent hills to climb.

Overlook on the East side of the Beaver Brook watershed.
Overlook

Elk Way Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)6 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance0.4 miles
Time NeededAbout 8 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Upper west Junction, and Logging trail Loop
  • Steady rise up to a subdivision
  • Mother Nature is taking back parts of this trail

Trailhead directions: West parking area | S – Beaver Brook | L- Upper West Junction Trail | R – Elk Way

Trail Highlights:

  • Creek Crossing

Review:

This trail is wide, rocky and easy to follow for most of the trek up the hill. Once you reach the meadow the trail narrows down to a narrow path before widening a little and starting to climb again, for a short stretch until you reach a cul-de-sac for a neighborhood. The trail is mostly forested and dense, in fact in places you may need to dodge trees that have leaned over into the path to reach for sunny areas. There is another small path at the top near the cul-de-sac behind the wooden fence like structure that quickly fades into the forest.

Flat Top Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)6 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)7
Distance 0.6 Miles
Time NeededAbout 16 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Alternate Route
  • Easy to follow trail
  • Moderate tree cover
  • Trail can be somewhat steep

Trailhead directions: East parking area | S – Beaver Brook trail | R – Hidden Wilderness | L – Alternate Route | L – Flat Top Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Large flat area at the top
  • Good views of the valley below
Dense foliage on one of the trails in the Beaver Brook Watershed
Beaver Brook Watershed

Review:

This trail is wide with a large amount of lose rock like many of the others in the area, and somewhat steep for most of the trek up the hill. At the end of the trail there is a small plateau area that offers some decent views of the valley below. Expect a fair amount of exposure due to the width of the trail, and clearing at the end.

Hidden Wilderness

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)10 (Difficult)
Views Rank (1 – 10)8
Distance4.8 Miles
Time NeededAbout 150 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Beaver Brook, Alternate Route, East Overlook
  • Trail is very steep
  • Navigation is difficult at time as the trail disappears into the new forest growth
  • Dense pine forest
  • Out and back

Trailhead directions: East parking area S – Beaver Brook | R – Hidden Wilderness

Trail Highlights:

  • Great views of Mount Evans when you rejoin the trail
  • Run down A Frame house
  • Creek
Cabin ruins along the Hidden Wilderness trail within the Beaver Brook Watershed.
Cabin ruins

Review:

This is by far the most adventurous trail in the area, and a GPS of some sort is a good idea on this “trail”. You will start off on a large well defined road that turns right onto a narrow trail leading down a tree cleared path. As the trail begins to climb and veer to the West you will come to a clearing where the “jeep trail” begins to climb a valley. You can either make a path through the trees, or make the creek crossing and head up the wider easier to follow trail on the southwest side of the creek. The trail becomes impossible to follow on either side of the valley a little farther up, and you will need to blaze your own path up the hill. The Southwestern side of the trail has several old log cabins that Mother Nature is quickly dismantling, and if you choose to follow the northeastern side of the valley there are glimpses of the trail here and there as you climb. I found it easiest to somewhat follow the gas pipeline signs on the Northeast side of the valley as I headed up the hill. After a vigorous climb you will be at 10300 feet and there will be a very wide road to follow. From here directly ahead there will be amazing views of Mount Evans with nothing between you and one of the more notable peaks in Colorado. As you begin to descend the hill you will come to an A frame house that has seen better days. I stopped and had lunch here, there was no wait, no service, but the open atmosphere was invigorating, and the granola bar and water hit the spot after the steep climb. If you continue the trail down the hill you will soon come to a subdivision filled with cabins and homes.

Little Bear Trail

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

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Overlook Trail
  • More of an access trail from Little Bear Creek rd. than a trail
  • Easy to hike trail
  • Well forested

Trailhead directions: There is a small pull over area off Little Bear Creek Rd.

Trail Highlights:

  • Wide easy to follow trail

Review:

This trail section is very short, but I would like to state it only looks that way due to how I split the trails up. After you have traveled the short length from Little Bear Creek Rd. down the trail all of 0.1 miles the trail branches off to the east and west. The West leads out to the overlook and the East trail leads into the interior of the park, and will later connect with the Beaver Brook trail that connects both parking areas, after a trail connection with Logging trail loop that is.

Logging Trail Loop

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance1.1 miles
Time NeededAbout 22 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Overlook trail, Elk Way, Upper West Junction Trail
  • Easy trail to hike
  • Wide well-traveled path

Trailhead: You could park off Little Bear Creek Rd. | R or L On logging trail Loop

Trail Highlights:

  • Dense forest
  • Mother Nature is taking parts of this trail back

Review:

This trail begins at the junction with the Elk Way Rd. trail and will be the path that continues up the hill more straight ahead (West). The trail also meets back in almost the same area on a much narrower fairly well concealed path. The trail quickly narrows down and continues up the valley, until you reach a small creek crossing followed by a very steep rise to a well-defined and much more traveled logging road.

Mushroom Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)4
Distance0.9 miles
Time NeededAbout 20 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: Beaver Brook Trail
  • Out and back to a pull off on Highway 103
  • Short and easy
  • Strong tree cover

Trailhead directions: East Parking area | S – Beaver Brook trail | L – Mushroom trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Dense forest
  • Creek

Review:

The Lewis creek flows along this trail for about a half mile before the path forks, The trail leading more southwest leads to a creek crossing and a very overgrow trail that I have not followed up the hill. The other side the southeasterly trail leads up to a small pull off area on Highway 103. The forest is very thick in here and if a rain storm suddenly appeared as they sometimes do in this area, I scarcely think you would feel a drop of rain through the thick tree cover. The trail is covered in a thick bed of pine needles and the trail begins to fade as you near the highway. As one would assume from the name the trail has an overabundance of mycelia growing on the side of the trail and very often right in the center. There were at least 10 distinctly different mushrooms along the trail the last time I passed through this area of the park.

Overlook Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)3 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)8
Distance0.7 miles
Time NeededAbout 13 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail:
  • Easy trail
  • Mostly forested

Trailhead directions: You could park off Little Bear Creek Rd. | S – Little Bear Trail | R – Overlook Trail

Trail Highlights:

  • Debris hut with an amazing view of the area

Review:

This trail starts off as a well-defined logging road and continues to hold that standard until you reach some of the smaller branch trails. All of the paths that I followed faded away into the forest, and one led to a rather large debris hut with some million dollar views of the watershed below. There is a smaller trail that branches off to the north about 0.5 miles down that looked like it looped back towards where the logging trail loop junction is on my GPS, but it quickly turned into an act of navigating back to the overlook trail.

Saddleback Mountain Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)8 (Difficult)
Views Rank (1 – 10)10
Distance0.8 miles
Time NeededAbout 45 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail: None
  • Short very steep trail
  • Decent tree cover
  • Not accessible from other trails in the park

Trailhead directions: Very small parking area on Saddle Ridge Rd.

Trail Highlights:

Great views of the surrounding mountains

Review:

With over 800 feet of elevation gain is less than a mile; this trek up the side of the mountain will have you stopping along the way to take in the scene and catch your breath. At roughly a quarter of a mile in there is a split in the trail and you will have two options as you continue your climb to the summit. Both paths lead to the same amazing views so you can take one up and the other down for a change of scenery. Aside from a couple patches along the trail there is a good amount of strong tree cover, and there is a thick aspen grove on the south side of the mountain. That being said the summit is just over 9500 feet in elevation so if there is bad weather moving in; it would be a good idea to head down the hill to avoid being a lightning rod.

This trail is part of the Beaver Brook Watershed, but does not have any connecting trails to the main two parking lots. There is a separate parking lot that can hold three cars if everyone gets that parking thing down. To get to the parking lot take I-70 west then take Exit 248. Take Highway 40 West along I-70 until you get to Homestead Rd, which passes over to the other side of I-70. Next take a right on Hyland Dr., followed by a right on Ponderosa Dr. You will them make a right on Aspen Dr. then take a slight right on Saddle Ridge Rd. Continue following Saddle Ridge Rd. until you spot the small parking area on the left hand side of the road at the crux of a very sharp switchback.

Upper West Junction

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)6 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)5
Distance1.5 miles
Time NeededAbout 30 Minutes

Details:

  • Connecting trail:
  • Mostly dense forest
  • Follows a creek

Trailhead directions: West Parking Area | Beaver Brook Trail | R – Upper West Junction (about 1.3 miles down)

Trail Highlights:

  • Creek views
  • Lush forest

Review:

The trail is a steady rise as you follow the small creek that rolls down the mountain valley. There is ample opportunity to view wild life on this trail and all the others in the park due to the area being less traveled by hikers and mountain bikers. There are some very large wild turkeys in the area which may throw you for a loop the first time you see them, but they are pretty secretive and tend to stick to the tree line most of the time. The end of this section of trail meets at a clearing with three wider trails and a smaller trail. The trail to the right will have an immediate creek crossing and lead to a subdivision. (Elk Way is the road it leads to.) The more strait on path is Logging trail loop which starts as a decent rise and leads to a creek crossing and a very steep climb to meet the logging road, which if you take a left on loops down to the trail junction.

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!

Denver Mountain Parks Hiking

O’Fallon, Corwina and Pence parks are part of the Denver Mountain parks system that along with Lair O’ The Bear park make up a network of trails that are all connected by Bear Creek Trail. The parks offers great views of the mountains and a general feeling of being much further in the woods than you are. Having the Bear Creek Trail form the backbone of several of the trails in the parks presents the opportunity to create several great loop hikes for a full day adventure in the area. The best part is there is a lot of parking. That being said in the midst of summer on the weekends it can at times be difficult to find a parking spot around these parks. As is the case with all the other parks I reviewed there are no entrance fees.

14.1 Miles of trails

Denver Mountain Parks Detail

  • Weapons are not allowed 
  • Camping is prohibited
  • Hiking is permitted
  • Mountain biking on certain trails
  • Pets are allowed but must be leashed
  • Fires are allowed in designated grills only.
  • Wood gathering is prohibited
  • Alcoholic drinks and drug use is prohibited
  • Area opens one hour before sunrise and closes one hour after sunset
  • No Entrance fees

If you are looking to reserve a picnic table call (720) 913-0700

Emergency contacts:

Denver Mountain parks (720) 865-0900

Park Rangers (720) 913-1311

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

Denver Mountain Parks Map

Independence Peak Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)8 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)10
Distance1.1 miles
Time NeededAbout 40 Minutes

Independence Peak Trail Details:

  • Connecting Trail: Bear Creek trail is at the parking lot
  • Hiker only trail
  • Steady climb the whole way
  • Both the South and North loops at the parking lot lead to Main trail junction
  • Steep elevation gain/loss
  • Mostly treed
  • Closest parking area: Pence Park lot

Trailhead directions: Take either the North or South loop


INDEPENDENCE PEAK Trail Highlights:

  • Fantastic views of the surrounding mountains
  • Lots of wildlife on the trail
  • OneSunChasers favorite trail in this park


INDEPENDENCE PEAK Trail Review:

Beginning the ascent of Independence Peak, you can either take Independence Peak North or South to access the main portion of the trail. Both options are 0.4 miles long with Independence trail being another 0.7 miles in length one way. This is a great trail, and definitely my favorites for this area. The trail has a lot of tree cover and a constant steady climb to the summit. The rock precipice at the top has little tree cover, and opens onto vast views of the surrounding mountain ranges. Since this trail is less traveled than some of the other trails in the area, there seems to be more wildlife off the trail. The only downside is you are likely to hear the residents that live in the surrounding area as sound travels very well here.

Meadow View Loop: (This is now Bear Creek Cutoff Trail)

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)4 (Easy)
Views Rank (1 – 10)4
Distance1.4 miles
Time NeededAbout 32 Minutes
Meadow view within O Fallon Park
Meadow in O Fallon Park

Meadow View Loop Details:

  • Connecting trails: Picnic loop, and Bear Creek Trail
  • Hiker only trail
  • Minor elevation change
  • Partially treed
  • Closest parking area: O’ Fallon Parking lot

Trailhead directions: Starts at parking lot

Meadow View Loop Trail Highlights:

  • Meadow views

Meadow View Loop Trail Review:

Reaching the trailhead, you will be starting at the picnic area near the stone bridge that crosses Bear Creek. Walk down the gated off dirt road lined with picnic tables that follows Bear Creek until you reach a little bridge. The trailhead is directly across the wooden bridge next to the restrooms.

Loop Option One

The trail meets up with the Bear Creek Trail as it slowly climbs the mountain side, as does the west ridge trail, which can be used to create a loop. If you are looking to create this loop you can hike in and take a right when you hit the Bear Creek trail. Hike up the Bear Creek Trail until you see the intersection with the Meadow View trail, at this point take another right at the fork where West ridge and Meadows View meet again. This will take you back down to the parking lot near where this trail starts.

Loop Option Two

If you are looking for a yet longer hike pass Meadows View turnoff and continue up Bear Creek trail until you see the option to start heading west towards Myers gulch road. There is a signpost as the West Ridge Trail veers off to the right and runs parallel to Myers gulch road. The trail is well traveled and well-marked don’t fret if you miss the trail junction as the beginning of Bear Creek trail starts a short distance away on Myers gulch road.

Loop Option Three

Another great option is to hike the Meadows View Trail and take quick jaunt, left on Bear Creek Trail, over to the Panorama Trail in Corwina Park for some spectacular views of the surrounding mountains. When you are finished taking in the amazing beauty of the mountains head back down and either retrace your path on Bear Creek or finish the trek down panorama trail and follow 74 southwest towards Kittredge (upstream) about 4/10 of a mile back to the O’ Fallon park area.

Over all the options listed above make for an excellent trip with a variety of distance options to choose from. Because Meadow View is so central to O’ Fallon park it is a great trail in incorporate into your hikes in this area. Consequently you are very likely to find yourself enjoying its rugged scenery on your next trip to the park.

Panorama Point Trail

Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)9
Distance1.2 miles
Time NeededAbout 35 Minutes

Panorama Point Trail Details:

  • Connecting trail: Bear Creek trail.
  • Hiker only
  • Descent elevation gain
  • Good tree cover
  • Closest parking area: Corwina Park on the South side of 74

Trailhead directions: Starts at the parking lot

Panorama Point Trail Highlights:

  • Panoramic views
View from the top of the Panorama Point trail.
Panorama Point

Panorama Point Review:

This hike is a bit of a work out if you are hiking from the Corwina lot but not too strenuous off the Bear Creek trail considering its short length after this point. The rewards for the trek are well worth the effort you will expend to reach the clearing at the top. If you are hiking in from the parking lot in Corwina Park, hike up the trail until you reach the Bear Creek trail junction. You will want to take a left on Bear Creek trail and the Panorama trail will resume on your right hand side after about 2/10th of a mile. The trail leads up the side of a mountain and is marked with a sign.

West Ridge Loop

View of a portion of the West Ridge loop trail in O' Fallon Park
Trail in O Fallon Park
Difficulty Rank (1 – 10)5 (Moderate)
Views Rank (1 – 10)3
Distance1.5  miles
Time NeededAbout 36 Minutes

West Ridge Loop Details:

  • Connecting trails: Bear Creek trail, and Meadow View
  • Hiker only
  • Gradual elevation change after initial climb
  • Partially treed
  • Closest parking area: O’Fallon parking lot

Trailhead directions: Starts at the parking lot

West Ridge Loop Trail Highlights:

  • Views of Meadows
  • View of Mount Evans

West Ridge Loop Review:

West Ridge Loop is home to an abundant amount of wildlife in spite of its heavy human usage. Coupled with a variety of landscapes you will feel much deeper in the woods than you are. The trail begins with slight elevation change which slowly tapers off. Throughout the trail you will enjoy a mix of open sky and tree cover. Another nice aspect of this trail is that development of the area is slight so houses are not seen until you hit the Bear Creek Trail, which connects Meadows View and creates a loop. When you have reached the junction with the Bear Creek Trail the scene will start to change to an open meadow. At this point the Bear Creek Trail snakes past a few of the homes that are just off the trail. Finally you will quickly meet up with Meadow View Trail to finish off the 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!