Now that the summer heat is fading, the Denver area lower elevation trails are begging to be explored. Just outside of Franktown off Highway 83 is the hidden treasure of Castlewood Canyon State Park. Complete with meadows, rock formations, streams and ruins, this park has it all. There are a wide variety of trails with difficulties ranging from easy to somewhat difficult. For the hiker seeking a leisurely stroll the Canyon View Nature Trail leads the visitor on a one mile paved trail with excellent views of the canyon. The Rimrock Trail and Climber’s/Cave/Cliff Base Loop offer a challenge for those hikers seeking more of an adventurous workout.
Fitness and beauty go hand in hand when exploring Castlewood Canyon. There are plenty of trails that offer breathtaking sights such as the most accessible waterfall near Denver. If you park in the right lot, the hike will take less than 15 minutes. However, there is so much more to see. One of the most amazing sights to be found is the Castlewood Dam. Built back in 1890 it had been in service for 43 years before it ruptured and sent a dangerous wall of water that surging into the Denver area. Now all that remains is the long standing rock wall worthy of any photographer’s attention.
Amazing wildlife can also been seen in the canyon area including beavers, chipmunks, bighorn sheep, river otters, Bald Eagles and falcons. Because of the wildlife pets are only allowed on the trails with a leash. Facilities in the park include an Amphitheatre, a visitor’s center, and three covered shelters perfect for picnics. To reach the main entrance of Castlewood Canyon State Park, take I-25 to Castle Rock, exit onto Founders Parkway eastbound. Take Founders Parkway to Hwy 86, go east on Hwy 86 four miles to Franktown. Turn South on Hwy 83 (S. Parker Rd) and go five miles south to the main park entrance. The daily park pass is $7.00 per car.