South Rim Loop Trail at Roxborough State Park

The South Rim Loop Trail at Roxborough State Park is a moderate hike that leads to breathtaking views of the red rock formations that make this Colorado State Park famous. It's a perfect hike for a weekend afternoon, or a great choice for visiting family and friends. We also put this on our list for great hikes to take if you want to acclimatize before hiking into higher altitudes deeper in the mountains. Read further to explore the trail details, tips, and to get the trail map for this adventure in Roxborough State Park.

Roxborough State Park is like the Garden of the God's of Denver. Nestled against the foothills south Littleton, Colorado, it makes for a quiet escape from the sounds of the city. The South Rim Trail provides some of the best vantage points for photography of the Fountain and Morrison formations, the same rock that forms sister parks, Garden of the Gods in Colorado Springs, and Red Rocks Park in Morrison.

Trail Snapshot: South Rim Loop Trail at Roxborough State Park

Parking and Trailhead Information

The last two miles of access road into Roxborough State Park are a maintained dirt road, but it can get washboarded and can be tough on the car. Still, it's not a long drive in. Undulating green hills can be seen to the west where deer and antelope graze. Roxborough can fill up during it's busiest hours on the weekend. If that's the case, you can wait until enough vehicles exit the park then drive in. My guess is that the peak times are around 10AM-2PM. If the line looks long, you can always turn around and head over to Waterton Canyon or to South Valley Park--both are great options.

The South Rim trail begins just west of the visitor center and makes its way through tunnels of scrub oak. This first trail segment takes you to several different destinations: the Willow Creek Loop, Carpenter Peak, and Elk Valley.

The trail will eventually come to a small meadow with a lone cottonwood tree. Here the trail forks and the trail to the lef leads to the rest of the South Rim Trail. It crosses a small brook via a footbridge and into an area that our kids kept calling the "magical forest." The way the light plays in Roxborough State Park is enchanting. I think it has something to do with how the hogback formations and the red rocks filter the light coming into the valley.


About 1 mile into the hike, the trail begins to climb. We've rated this trail as moderate because the climb may be challenging for those not acclimated to the altitude or who are not in great shape. The great news is that there are benches placed at regular intervals along the trail. A couple of these bench sites offer incredible overlooks into the park and are ideal points for photographing fountain valley. Most of the benches offer shade in bowers under fir and scrub oak trees.

The South Rim Trail makes its way over the top of a bright and orange cliff band that dominates the southern end of the park for most of the hike. At the highest point, a very short spur trail affords hikers views to the east, and another viewpoint on the descent offers views to the north, all the way into the city of Denver.

Be mindful of the loose gravel as the trail descends back into the valley. Back on the valley floor, the trail will fork again. To the left (west) will take hikers onto the Willow Creek trail, adding approximately 1/2 mile onto the loop back to the visitor center, making it a 3.5 mile hike. Or you can continue North for approximately 1/2 mile back the the parking area.



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Tips & Resources for Hiking the South Rim Loop in Roxborough

  • Loop Hiking Direction: This description of the South Rim Loop is hiked as counter-clockwise. Just reverse the description for hiking the trail to hike the loop clockwise.
  • Hiking in Winter: If you plan to hike the South Rim Trail in the winter, it is advised that you have traction devices like YakTrax because much of the trail will be in shadow, and ice will likely form on the trail.
  • Trail Map for Roxborough State Park: Trail Map Link
  • Packing List: Always pack the 10 Essentials. Download our Hiking Guide to get list and dayhiking packing checklist.
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Waterton Tavern in Roxborough


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above bear lake in rmnp looking to glacier gorge colorado hike finder

deer creek canyon trail near littleton in fall with picnic area in distance

Deer Creek Canyon Loop Hike

This loop hike in Deer Creek Canyon offers a quick getaway from the city of Denver and its surrounding suburbs. Because Deer Creek Canyon Park is tucked away in the entrance of the canyon, you can completely immerse yourself in the foothills and the valley that lies between Littleton and the park.

Trail Snapshot: Deer Creek Canyon Loop Trail


Deer Creek Canyon Loop Trail Profile

This 2.7 mile loop hike in Deer Creek Canyon is made by combining two trails. The Route: Start on the Meadowlark Trail (1.6 mile trail) until you come to the Plymouth Creek Trail junction. Go left onto the Plymouth Creek Trail for 1.1 miles back to the trailhead.

This hike is relatively easy, characterized by mostly gentle slopes and a very few rock scrambles. It's perfect for kids, and older outdoor enthusiasts. Pathfinder, Joe Q., scouted this hike for Dayhikes Near Denver and went about a week too late to catch the peak of the fall colors; however, as he reported, "Even when I went the array of reds, oranges, and yellows were a great exemplification of Colorado’s fall beauty."

05_deer-creek-canyon-hike-return-loop hike

The Meadowlark Trail is a hiker only trail, however, the Plymouth Creek trail does allow mountain bikes. As you hike, you'll encounter some faint side-trails where people choose to depart from the true trail to see a new vista view or viewpoint. These are pretty clearly not trails and will end within 100 feet. If you are ever questioning whether or not you’re on the true trail, you probably aren’t. The true trail is very well worn, well maintained, and is pretty obvious.

The Plymouth Creek Trail follows the creek for a while, and gives lots of views to small cliff walls on either side. In the lower portions of Plymouth Creek the trail runs adjacent to private residences, but the trail remains clearly marked.


Tips & Resources for Hiking Deer Creek Canyon Loop:

  • Parking at Deer Creek Canyon: There is ample parking, but it's possible that the lot could fill up on holidays and weekends.
  • Getting There: GPS may give you incorrect directions to the trailhead. If you are traveling westbound on Deer Creek Canyon road, turn left on Grizzly; you'll find the Deer Creek Canyon Park Trailhead on your right.
  • Rattlesnakes: There is a higher than usual presence of rattlesnakes in the lower regions of Deer Creek Canyon Park. Rattlesnakes are a normal inhabitant of the foothills and plains along the front range, but some areas--like this on--may have higher concentrations. They tend to sun themselves on rock and the warm gravel of trails--so keep your eyes peeled as you hike.
  • After the Hike: Spur Coffee in Littleton
  • Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • Thanks goes out to Joe Q. who hiked this loop, and took the trail notes and photos to produce this trail profile.



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south platte river flowing through waterton canyon with foothills in background hikes near denver

Hiking Beautiful Waterton Canyon

The winding dirt road trail of Waterton Canyon takes you along the South Platte river and into a canyon where you might spy some Bighorn sheep or catch the sight of massive eagles soaring on the warm air currents rising from rock. It's an out-and-back hike, and you have a lot of options, from a short hike in to have a picnic, all to way to 12.4 mile round trip adventure to the Strontia Springs Dam. You can hike, bike, and fish on this hike near Denver. Explore the five different options we have detailed below. We'll describe the location of a few destinations, including the best places to rest and have a picnic, and some of the other trails that join up with this Colorado canyon hike.

Waterton Canyon is has reopened on June 15th.. See the Denver Water Waterton Canyon page for updates and details.

Trail Snapshot: Hiking Beautiful Waterton Canyon

When you set out to explore Waterton Canyon, there are plenty of things that you can expect. We've hiked this three times and have spotted Bighorns on two of those hikes. The trail is a wide dirt road that gives Denver Water access to the dam at the top end of the canyon. So, this makes for a great stroller hike, if your stroller has a way to give the kids some shade from the sun. It's also a really enjoyable mountain bike ride because it's not too steep--well, at least not until just past the dam--and the downhill ride back down is easy and fun. Here are are over five different ways you can hike this great hike near Denver, Colorado.


Hike Options at Waterton Canyon Trail

1. The Shorter Hike in Waterton Canyon

The first mile or two of Waterton Canyon takes you to an old water conduit pipe that juts out over the trail, and your best chance to catch the site of Bighorn Sheep and Golden Eagles. The trail quickly goes from a paved road to a dirt fire road, then begins following the course of the South Platte river. The canyon itself starts low and shallow, and grows higher and more rugged the deeper you venture into Waterton.

After about 15 minutes of hiking, keep your eyes peeled on the green hillsides on your right (see photo above). This is where we most often spot bighorn sheep and their lambs. Scan the skies, too, for gigantic golden eagles that hover on the hot air that rises from the canyon walls in the afternoons. You'll find the first picnic area just about 1/2 of a mile into Waterton Canyon.

2. Waterton Canyon Picnic Area - 3 Miles Round Trip

This section of Waterton makes for a great evening picnic. You'll find it on your left just after the Highline Canal Diversion Dam. It's a great place to skip rocks with the kids and to watch the light soften on the canyon walls as the sun sets over the distant mountains. Continuing past this picnic area, the next feature you'll pass is the Marston Dam. There is another picnic area at approximately 3.75 miles into Waterton Canyon (see the pdf map), that's also a great little spot, but if you get in that far, you'll want to keep exploring.
If you hike further up into Waterton Canyon, the river grows both wider and wilder. Cedars and pines grow along the banks and canyon sides, and the cliffsides become steep and jagged. It's here, around mile 4, that things start to get interesting.

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3. Fishing Hole and Picnic Table at Mile 4.5

The next destination worth mentioning is a secluded spot on the river where you'll find a deep fishing hole on the right side of the road. There is a picnic table hidden down among the willows (it's hidden well enough that it doesn't show up in the photo below). There is a restroom just about 150 yards upriver from the spot.
The trail just keeps getting better after you pass this fishing hole. At mile five, we saw a lot of big horn sheep sign, flowering bushes, and wildflowers. Hummingbirds were buzzing along the trail in a furious search for nectar. Folks who fish Waterton Canyon often ride their bikes in and start fishing at the dam, then work their way back downstream.

4. Hike the Entire Trail to the Strontia Springs Dam - 6.2 Miles

The Strontia Springs Dam is an imposing structure, looming over 200 feet high above the trail with water gushing from its release pipes into the river.Accessing the 7700 acre Strontia Springs Reservoir is extremely difficult, though not impossible. However, its banks drop straight off into the water making it a pretty inhospitable place, but it can be fished for perch, trout, and walleye. One fisherman on a Colorado fishing forum commented that you have to really "WANT to get there" because it's so tough to access.

5. Hike the Colorado Trail

Most people turn around at Strontia Springs, but the trail doesn't end there. In fact, Waterton Canyon is the eastern gateway to the close to 500 mile Colorado Trail. The Colorado Trail starts here in Denver, then weaves it's way all the way to Durango. You can download a Trail Map of the Colorado Trail here. You really have several options at this point. You can continue onto segment one of the Colorado Trail on Trail #1776.

Segment one of the Colorado Trail will take you out of the canyon and onto US Forest Service land where you can camp near Lenny's Rest. It's important to note that camping is prohibited in Waterton Canyon, so this area at Lenny's rest should be your goal if you plan to overnight. Another option is that you can hike down into Roxborough State Park on the Roxborough Connector section of the Indian Creek Trail #800. Yet another option--and this option is way more than a dayhike being well over 28 miles--would be to hike the full Indian Creek Trail loop, then to exit at either Roxborough or back down through Waterton Canyon. However, Indian Creek does have it's own campground, so you could make it a long weekend trip. Of course, your final option is to hike out the way you came through Waterton Canyon. Click here for a PDF map of the first segment of the Colorado Trail that shows the connections to both Roxborough and the Indian Creek Campsite.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Waterton Canyon :

  • No Dogs: Because of the bighorn sheep and other wildlife, dogs are not allowed in Waterton Canyon.
  • Fishing: If your goal is to go fishing in Waterton Canyon, then start early and ride your mountain bike the 6.2 miles up to the dam and fish your way down.
  • It Gets Hot: Don't hike this in the middle of the day. Waterton Canyon is close to 100% exposed to the sun, so it's best to start very early or to hike later when the sun is moving itself to end the day.
  • Did I Mention It Gets Hot? Bring sunscreen and a hat
  • Bring Water: Bring plenty of water. You can say this about every hike, but it's especially important because of the sun and heat.
  • Dusk: It gets dark quickly after sunset. Because you're in a canyon, once the sun sets beyond the foothills, the canyon becomes a land of shadows.
  • Watch for Bikes: Watch for mountain bikes, especially those headed down and out of the canyon. The road is wide enough to accommodate a lot of traffic in Waterton Canyon, but you want to be sure that you are staying to the right as you hike so that you can give a wide berth to the bikes that are letting it rip as they leave the canyon.
  • Trail Map for Waterton Canyon: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Spur Coffee in Littleton


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man painting red rocks at trading post trail in red rocks park near denver with red rocks in background hikes 30 minutes from denver

highline canal hike county line to flyn b park header

High Line Canal Hike - County Line to Fly'n B Park

The High line Canal starts in the foothills and meanders over 60 miles through Denver, creating a treelined hiking and biking thoroughfare in the middle of the city. This stretch in Littleton, Colorado takes you past Fly'n B Park. Take the path south and you'll find yourself in Writer's Park. Scroll down for the trail snapshot, and for further details and tips for hiking this great segment of Denver's High Line Canal.

Trail Snapshot: High Line Canal Hike - County Line to Fly'n B Park

Denver's Highline Canal was designed as an irrigation stream, but it has become a 66 mile long hiking and biking trail running through the heart of Denver. This particular hiking trail section is in the Littleton & Highlands Ranch area. There are two parking lots from which you can start the hike: the Countyline Road Trailhead, or the Fly'n B Park lot. Round Trip, this segment is about 4 miles. From the Countyline Trailhead, cross over the first footbridge and head South (left). You'll run into an intersection about 200 yards up. Take a right to continue following the Highline.

Water flows in the highland canal about 90 days a year. Because the canal only drops two feet per mile, the water, even when it is flowing fast, appears calm. This is part of what gives this trail such a pastoral feel, even though it is close to 470. Immense Cottonwood trees arch over the path, and all sorts of birds decorate the bushes and wetlands that have grown up wild along its edges.

highline canal hike yellow bird

The trail is great for a stroller hike and for wheelchairs. After about 2 miles of trail, you'll walk through a tunnel that goes under 470. You'll then emerge to find yourself at Fly'n B Park. It looks like it is an old ranch that has been converted into a great park near Highlands Ranch. It features a small pond with boat dock, and a fantastic shelter house. The pond looks like a perfect place to take kids fishing in Denver. We haven't tried it out yet, so we would love your feedback if you have. The Highlands Ranch Metro District Parks is currently (Spring 2014) renovating the home on the property. Outdoor restrooms and some parking is available. However, we recommend parking at the Countyline Road Trailhead for this hike.

girl on trail with black dog in colorado mountains spruce tree in foreground and snow and evergreen trees in background

Tips & Resources for Hiking High Line Canal Hike - County Line to Fly'n B Park :


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view from daniels park bluff toward front range mountains on hike near denver

Daniel's Park Hikes

Best sunsets in Denver! You can see mountains upon mountains of Colorado's Front Range. Take a picnic dinner and pull off at one of the many picnic areas along Daniels Park Road. There are several hiking options detailed below for Daniel's park. To get all the details, scroll down and explore the trail snapshot, profile, and tips below.

Trail Snapshot: Daniel's Park Hike

We are featuring Daniel's Park ,not for it's trails, but because it has one of the best views of the Front Range near Denver. From the park, you can see Pikes Peak in the South, Mt. Evans in the West, and Longs Peak in the North. The trails are not handicap accessible, but the shelter house is (after a bit of a bump trail), and is a perfect place to watch the sun set.

Here is the lowdown on the trails at Daniel's Park: They are undeveloped. The park has been around for nearly 100 years but has somehow escaped being developed. However, it's close to south Denver and has some great features, so we've come up with a few different hiking options below.

The Short Daniel's Park Hike - Park at the Shelter House and begin walking north through the undeveloped trails along the top of the bluff. We like to take a picnic dinner up here and a lot of folks bring firewood and enjoy the sunset by the fire. There are about a quarter mile of trails that weave through the rock and back out towards the road.

3 Mile Daniel's Park Hike - Again, start at the Shelter House and head North following the top of the bluff as it parallels the road. You can extend your hike by hiking North along the road until it intersects with Grigs Road - About 1.5 Miles. Hike back to Daniel's Park Shelter House for a 3 Mile round trip hike.

5.4 Mile Daniel's Park Hike - Continue the 1.5 mile hike by taking a left onto Grigs road. Cross to the Northeast side of the Grigs, then shortly after you cross, you'll come upon a green fence and the Douglas County East/West Trail. Your can take that trail West (left) to the Grigs Road Trailhead, adding an additional 1.2 miles to your hike (5.4 Miles Round Trip). Click Here for a Google Map that traces the route along Daniel's Park and Grigs Road.

Douglas County plans to build this East/West trail into a 26 mile system linking Chatfield Reservoir to the town of Parker, Colorado. Click here for the map of the East/West Trail and proposed trails in Douglas County. Denver Mountain Parks and Douglas County have developed a master plan to improve both the park and the roads in the area. You can find an overview at the Douglas County Park site.

Tips & Resources for Visiting Daniel's Park:

  • TIP: Keep an eye on the skies - Douglas County has one of the highest lightning strike rates in the country and Daniel's Park is one of the higher points.
  • TIP: Bison Viewing - The Bison can be found in an enclosed pasture on both sides of the road.However, the Bison are usually found grazing in the section of the park that is directly across the street from the shelter house.
  • Trail Map for Daniel's Park: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions


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man painting red rocks at trading post trail in red rocks park near denver with red rocks in background hikes 30 minutes from denver

man on horse with dog on bluffs regional park trail with front range mountains in background on hike near denver

Bluffs Loop Trail at Bluffs Regional Park

The Bluffs Regional Park features a 2.7 mile loop hike and 2 spurs that lead to panoramic overlooks. The Bluffs loop offers fantastic views of Denver and of the front range. We prefer hitting the trail as the sun is setting. As it gets dark, and the city lights begin to appear, warm winds sometimes will kick up along the Bluffs. Because it's so close to home, we have hiked the Bluffs more than any other trail near Denver. It's the best hike in Lone Tree, it's near Highlands Ranch, and can be made into either a great hike or trail run. We have often taken our jogging stroller, put the kids in, and hiked the loop. This makes for a great after-work workout.

Trail Snapshot: Bluffs Loop Trail at Bluffs Regional Park

Because the Bluffs Regional Park is just a few minutes off of Interstate 25, it's a great place to meet friends who may be driving up from Castle Rock or Monument.

Be aware of horses on the trail and give them the right of way. There is a gentleman who likes to ride his horse in the late afternoon/early evening who can be quite reckless. We've seen him nearly collide with parties of hikers on two occasions. Just be aware of him.

2 Hike Options at the Bluffs Regional Park :

1. The Loop Hike: We prefer to hike the loop counter-clockwise (going right onto the trail from the trailhead) because the steepest part of the trail is downhill at the end. The trail does have a steady incline on the back side that can be challenge if you are pushing a stroller. This loop hike is 2.7 miles + spurs out to two overlooks.

2. Hike Directly to the Overlook: The most direct route to the Tepe Overlook at the Bluffs is by following the trail clockwise (to the left) from the trailhead for half a mile, then to follow the spur trail for .2 mile to the overlook. This makes for a 1.4 mile, out-and-back hike.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Bluffs Loop Trail at Bluffs Regional Park :

  • TIP: The parking lot usually fills up on weekend mornings before 9-9:30AM.
  • TIP: As there is no water available at the trailhead, you would want to bring some with you.
  • Trail Map for Bluffs Loop Trail: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: DazBog Coffee


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glendale farm trail douglas county open space header

Glendale Farm Trail - Douglas County Open Space

Glendale Farm is a short hiking trail near Littleton, Colorado, that offers a seventeen-acre off-leash dog park. This makes for a great after-work trail run or a leisurely hike when the sun is setting over the mountains and the day is cooling down. Glendale Farm Open space is situated on a prairie plateau between Lone Tree and Castle Pines, Colorado. From the high point on the trail you'll gain views of Pikes Peak in the south, Devil's head in the west, and Rocky Mountain's Longs Peak in the North. It's just a 1.6 mile loop trail, so it makes for a great run or hike. There's not much shade on this trail, so bring sunscreen--or better yet, hit the trail as the sunsets.

Trail Snapshot: Glendale Farm Trail - Douglas County Open Space

This is another one of those great hikes with your Dog near Denver. Leashes are required on the trail, but after doing the loop, you can let your dog loose in the adjacent 17 acre off-leash dog park. Greenland Open Space Trail has a similar off-leash dog park of 17 acres.

Tips & Resources for Hiking Glendale Farm Trail - Douglas County Open Space :

  • An off-leash dog area: Located southwest of the main trailhead is a 17-acre parcel designated park that is fenced-in, and the only area where dogs are allowed off-leash.
  • Watch your step: Prickly pear cacti grow along the trail and there are rattlesnakes present in the area.
  • Trail Map for Glendale Farm Open Space: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Crowfoot Valley Coffee
  • Rules: For the most up-to-date rules and info in Douglas County dog parks, see this brochure.

girl on trail with black dog in colorado mountains spruce tree in foreground and snow and evergreen trees in background


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