Are you frustrated by how crowded trails are getting in the Front Range? *all of Denver raises their hand* Being that we are Denver’s Alpine Maids, we love alpine activities, and I have been tallying my favorite less crowded and all around lesser known hikes surrounding Denver. So next time you have our maid service in to clean your home, grab your kids and get out to one of these spots. I’ll see you there!
Castlewood Canyon State Park
If you live in Parker, then you have plenty of time to take off to Castlewood Canyon State Park. It is about 15 miles South of Parker, CO. While everybody else in Denver is headed out to the mountains on the weekend, you can find this hidden gem to the Southeast. Combining Rim Rock and Creek Bottom trails make for a 4 mile hike that will have you following a cool stream then climbing out of the canyon to the top of the overlying plateau. It also takes you by the Castlewood Canyon Dam that sent a 15 foot tall wave of water straight through downtown Denver in 1933. Don’t forget to observe the strata prominently displayed in the canyon walls. This area has gone through a few notable geologic changes. It was at one time a marshy forest, then blanketed by hot volcanic ash, and later found itself as a river bed. It may only be preserved as it is today for a few million more years!
Mount Falcon Park
Alright, the maids are getting to work house cleaning in Littleton and you want to bag some 14ers this season. Mount Falcon Park’s Castle Trail offers a 2,000′ relief hike that provides invaluable 14er training. It is a great early season hike to do while you are waiting for the snow to melt off before venturing further West. The good news is that is nestled right near Morrison, and it is never crowded (especially compared to any of the Front Range 14ers).
Roxborough State Park
While people are waiting in line to hike red rocks, you can see the same amazing fountain formation here with half the crowd. Ok, so maybe this isn’t exactly a hidden gem, and while it is crowded, it is not half as bad as Red Rocks! The carpenter Peak trail is a 6 plus mile out and back trail to… you guessed it, the top of Carpenter Peak. It is pretty traveled, but it gives you a chance to see the amazing Front Range uplift geology that Denver and Boulder are known for and it’s definitely worth the crowd. From Denver, head South down Santa Fe to Titan Road. Titan road will change names a few times, but you take this all of the way to Roxborough Park Road and you are there!
South Table Mountain
For some reason, the closest hikes are often the most ignored. Just to the west of Denver, Colorado lies Golden. Only half a mile from Downtown you will find South Table Mountain. I have rarely ever seen more than 5 people in a day hiking South Table Mountain. The loop comes in a just over 9 miles, but it is more than worth it for the amazing view of the Denver skyline once you get to the top.
Pro tip: If you really want to enjoy nature without the crowds, look into 13ers. You won’t be able to tell your friends you bagged a 14,000′ peak, but you can get the same experience with no crowd.