Denver, Boulder, and the surrounding region offer an amazing natural panorama for outdoor enthusiasts and contain some of the best hiking in the world. With such a bewildering wealth of hikes at their disposal, author Kim Lipker presents travelers with a variety of the very best trails in the area, and most within an hour's drive or less. Extensive key-at-a-glance information makes it easy to choose a hike based on length, difficulty, scenery, and more. Including hikes near Fort Collins, Boulder, and Colorado Springs, 60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Denver and Boulder is the only guidebook that pinpoints great hikes that are also close to home.
About the Author
James Dziezynski is the best-selling author of Best Summit Hikes in Colorado and Best Summit Hikes: Denver to Vail. His writing has appeared in National Geographic Adventure, Outside, Discover, Backpacker, The Bark, The Denver Post, Elevation Outdoors, and many other publications. He is an alumnus of NOLS (National Outdoor Leadership School) and Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York. James has climbed over 800 peaks in the state of Colorado, including all 58 summits over 14,000 feet. He lives in Boulder with his wife, Sheila, and their two rescue dogs, Mystic and Fremont.
Colorado native Kim Lipker is a guidebook author and has a regular parenting column in Rocky Mountain Parent magazine.
Read an Excerpt
Bear Creek Lake Park: Bear Creek Trail
KEY AT-A-GLANCE INFORMATION
Length: 4.42 miles
Scenery: Bear Creek, Bear Creek Reservoir, plains, riparian ecosystem
Exposure: Mostly shaded
Traffic: Heavy in spots
Trail Surface: Hard-packed dirt, paved in portions
Hiking Time: 2 hours
Season: All year
Access : Free; May–Labor Day, 6 a.m.–10 p.m.; April and October, 7 a.m.–8 p.m.; November–March, 8 a.m.–6 p.m.
Maps : USGS Morrison
Facilities: Visitor center, marina, 50 picnic sites, restrooms, 4 reservable park shelters, 50 campsites
Special Comments : This trail starts outside the Bear Creek Lake Park, but if hikers choose to start inside the park, entrance fees are $4 for a general daily pass or $40 for an annual pass. Dogs must be leashed and may not swim in the creeks or lakes within the park.
In Brief: The 2,500 acres of prime real estate that make up Bear Creek Lake Park have all the makings of an urban hideaway. Located in Lakewood, just southwest of Denver, Bear Creek Lake Park sits at the base of the foothills. Its grassy dam catches the waters of both Bear and Turkey creeks. Bear Creek Trail follows Bear Creek and winds through giant cottonwoods and across arid prairie without any telltale urban signs. Remote sounds from nearby roads are the only hint that civilization is close by.
Description: Leave the parking area and cross Morrison Road to the start of Bear Creek Trail, which is concrete here and perpendicular to Morrison Road. Immediately take a left, start through the canopied river basin, and walk parallel to Bear Creek. Walk through the entrance of Bear Creek Lake Park and pass the ranger station. Since you parked outside the park and foot traffic is not regulated, you don’t have to pay.
Follow the entrance road until it intersects with a trail right before Skunk Hollow. Go left and begin to head toward Bear Creek Reservoir. There is no sign here, but the trail is obvious.
Reach the intersection of Owl Trail and Visitors Center Trail and take a left onto Owl Trail. Pass the Owl Trail marking posts with the owl silhouettes and numbers.
Travel along the river and stay on the south bank, even though bridges cross Bear Creek via side trails. A horse trail, the Fitness Loop, and the Owl Trail all converge at a crossroads. Continue straight and pass a trail that goes up over the ridge.
Bear Creek Reservoir comes into view as the trail begins to veer away from the roar of Bear Creek. The terrain is still river basin, but the trail is wider and flanked by tall grasses. The dirt is less compact and loosens up into a sandlike consistency. Travel up a hill, leaving the river completely, and enter a semiarid landscape. Go around a bend and come out to a newly constructed picnic shelter with deluxe beach volleyball and horseshoes. This area, called Pelican Point, is the 2-mile mark and sits at the base of the Bear Creek Reservoir Dam and its small overflow lake. The trail passes Pelican Point and then makes a large U-turn to the right and continues, passing a horse arena.
After you cross a small bridge, the trail parallels a road for a short while. At 2.85 miles and an obvious fork in the trail, take a right turn back toward the creek bed. Follow the pedestrian-marked trail and take a left. Hit the 3-mile point and begin to backtrack on the familiar Owl Trail. Go straight across the road to the Skunk Hollow picnic area. Do not turn right and go back to the ranger station. Go through the parking lot, pass a covered picnic site, and get back on the trail behind the picnic grills. Reach the concrete Bear Creek Trail, take a right, and cross a bridge. Immediately take a left, head back to the start of Bear Creek Trail, cross Morrison Road, and go back to the car.
Nearby Attractions: Bear Creek Lake Park has 15.7 miles of trails. The Mount Carbon Loop is the park’s longest hike at 6.9 miles. Visit the city of Lakewood’s Web site for more information: lakewood.org.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
Boulder (Including Foothills and Mountains)
Denver (Including Foothills and Mountains)
North of Denver (Including Fort Collins and Rocky Mountain National Park)
South of Denver (Including Colorado Springs)
Appendix A - Outdoors Shops
Appendix B - Online Resources
Appendix C - Hiking Clubs
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
This is a nifty little book if you're from/going to be in the Denver area and are looking for some hikes close to home (within about a 2 hour radius). Each hike is introduced with a short paragraph about the hike's character, along with a sidebar with some "technical" information, including the hike's length, configuration, difficulty, scenery, exposure (sunlight), foot traffic, trail surface, hiking time (assuming 2 mph pace), season, access (including cost), maps, and facilities. The author also notes whether the trail is shared with cyclists and equestrians, which is helpful. There is also a map and an elevation profile given for each hike, so the difficulty is made more clear there. The author gives a more detailed overview of each hike - words of caution along with some interesting historical details and landmarks. Before owning this book, I've done a good handful of the hikes listed and am about to embark on a new one I didn't know about that was included here this weekend. I find the author is accurate in her description of the hikes. The only complaint I have is that I don't quite agree with her difficulty rankings. Perhaps that is because I am a more experienced hiker, but I would say that Mt. Bierstadt and definitely Long's Peak (as well as other 14er's, especially coming across the Sawtooth to summit Mt. Evans) should be classified in a different category above just "difficult", since she seems to list less difficult/less dangerous hikes by comparison within this category. I personally would not attempt Long's Peak and Mr. Evans across the Sawtooth without at least a couple other 14er's under your belt first, as these are both Class 3 difficulty hikes (Bierstadt is a Class 2 and requires less climbing experience and a lower comfort level with the exposure levels on the other two trails). The Sawtooth is probably an "easier" class 3, and the Keyhole route to Long's Peak is a more "serious" Class 3 climb. Other than that, I really appreciated the wide range of hikes included here. I bought this book because I wanted a good variety of hikes to take my less experienced family members hiking and it definitely includes many very good "easy" and "moderate" outings that those not comfortable with climbing or long treks would enjoy.