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I am a New York-based writer, travel lover, and author of The Drive North and Destination Paranormal. I have several other books in the works, including fiction.

Hiking Castlewood Canyon

With the Cherry Creek running through it, Castlewood Canyon sits just south of Franktown, Colorado, a distant suburb of Denver. And while it’s possible to hike from one end of the canyon to the other, the park is split into two separte areas, east and west, with their own entrances.
I found the views along the trails quite nice, especially as I decended into the canyon. The well kept paths were over large rocks many times, which I found I quite enjoyed. I loved the feeling of walking off the trails while always staying on them, something the park rangers request so as to help preserve the area.

My hike took me from the Bridge Canyon Overlook area down the Inner Canyon trail to the Lake Gulch trail, where you get great views of Pike’s Peak, and then back up to the paved overlook paths. Totally by accident, I found this to be the best route to go since the decent into the canyon is a steep set of stairs, while it is quite a gentle path coming back out along the Lake Gulch.
I’m definitely glad I didn’t go the other way considering that I feel I got an excellent workout by going the way I did. I had plenty of opportunities to hop along the boulders that litter the shallow creek as it winds its way to the Eastern Plains from Denver, where it branches off from the South Platte River.
Because the temperatures were up in the canyon during my midday hike, the wildlife seemed to stay away. Porcupines, coyotes, deer, rattlesnakes, and even the occasional mountain lion or black bear, are known to be spotted in the canyon. But, during my visit, all I saw were a bunch of different species of birds, largely crows though, and a small lizard of some kind. I can’t say I can really count the numerous grasshoppers that popped across the trail all day as wildlife, but they were everywhere as well.
It took me about 90 minutes to cover the three trails, and I was ready for more. So, I thought I’d head out off from the Canyon Bridge Overlook and see the East Canyon Preservation Area. It’s a four mile loop that goes into protected area where heading off the trail is strictly forbidden. I was intrigued by this, and thought it my best chance to see some wildlife.
The pathway took me towards Highway 83, which runs right through the park, with an arched bridge spanning the canyon. At times it was difficult to discerne the trail, generally because of all of the connecting rocks it ran over. Thankfully there was cleverly placed dead wood as well as the occasional pile of rocks to guide the way. It’s just too bad though that when I got to the highway to head into the preservation area, I found this:

Heavy rains over the last couple of weeks ran the water levels up to nine feet, from the normal three, washing out some bridges in the canyon. Some I believe have been fixed, but apparently not in that part of the canyon.
There was a sign on the Overlook path warning of a washed out bridge, but I had assumed that it would’ve been farther up the trail, leaving me an opportunity to see some of the area and maybe get a few good photos.
Castlewood Canyon State Park is definitely worth a trip out from Denver for a day of hikes and picnicing. The scenery is beautiful and the trails aren’t terribly challenging. It’s a great place for hikers of all skill levels and ages; really for anyone looking to have some outdoor fun.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Pierce College Cross-Country Trail | Enjoy Outdoors Los Angeles - March 15, 2012

    […] Hiking Castlewood Canyon (jasonstravelsdotcom.wordpress.com) […]

  2. Taking Anna on Her First Hike | Jason's Travels - September 2, 2013

    […] turn back. As luck would have it, we came upon the Dam Ruins Historic Site. I wanted to see these the last time I was in the park years ago, but missed them while hiking from the park’s main entrance on the east […]

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