Castlewood Canyon State Park

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Summary

Castlewood Canyon State Park offers a really diverse and engaging Natural Area in which to play. Good hiking trails and climbing routes abound in this park.

Written by

Deb Acord

Distance

0.1 miles

There are 16 trails in the park totaling nearly 13 miles; all are open for hiking and trail running (no mountain bikes or horses allowed). The 1.2-mile Canyon View Nature Trail is paved and handicapped-accessible and is located near the visitor center.

Destination Distance From Downtown

15.4 miles

Difficulty

2 of 5 diamonds

Time To Complete

2 hours

2-3 hours

Seasonality

All Seasons

Dog Friendly

On Leash Only

Dogs are allowed on all trails on-leash, except for the East Canyon Preservation Trail.

Fees Permits

Yes

$7 Daily State Park Pass; $70 Annually

Review

Intro

Castlewood Canyon State Park is one of 42 state parks in Colorado. Located not far from the busy I-25 corridor, Castlewood Canyon offers a nice, natural surprise – a deep gash of a canyon. Grizzly juniper trees hug the canyon walls in this 2,300-acre park located about 10 miles from the city of Castle Rock, and on the canyon floor, cottonwood and willows provide shade for hikers who want to linger alongside Cherry Creek. This park lies along the northern edge of the Black Forest and the Palmer Divide, a peninsula that is elevated and divides the drainages of the Platte and Arkansas Rivers.  

What Makes It Great

This park features dramatic canyon walls. Turkey vultures often soar overhead, sharing the air currents with golden eagles and ravens. The park is frequented by mountain lions, bears and rattlesnakes. Along the western canyon walls, hanging wetlands clog caverns.

Trail length varies from one to four miles (East Canyon Preservation Trail is the longest, at four miles), and trails may be combined for longer distances. From the south entrance, hikers can head downhill on the Inner Canyon Trail or go west on the Lake Gulch Trail. The Creek Bottom Trail is 1.7 miles, and the Rimrock Trail offers two miles of walking on the cap rock. There are 16 trails in the park totaling nearly 13 miles; all are open for hiking and trail running (no mountain bikes or horses allowed). The 1.2-mile Canyon View Nature Trail is paved and handicapped-accessible and is located near the visitor center. 

Who is Going to Love It

History buffs will enjoy the ruins of Castlewood Canyon Dam, built in 1870 for irrigation. It burst in 1933, ripping downstream into Denver, killing two people and destroying six bridges. Birdwatchers will also fall in love with this park, as it's frequented by wild turkeys, turkey vultures, and a variety of raptors. Each year, great blue herons nest in Douglas firs near the dam ruins. The wetter parts of the park are home to garter snakes, eastern fence lizards and Woodhouse’s toads. The creek holds warm-water fish species. There is also some really good climbing on the canyon walls, with some cliff faces reaching 60 feet tall. Many of the climbing areas have seasonal closures for raptor nesting; for more information about the best routes and about those seasonal closures, (generally May through July), make sure to stop by the Visitor Center.

Directions, Parking, & Regulations

From I-25 in 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 Road) and go five miles south to the main park entrance.

The East Canyon Preservation Trail trail has seasonal closures when icy or muddy conditions are present.

Location

Castlewood Canyon State Park

2989 S State Highway 83
Franktown, CO, 80116
38.978056, -105.00929

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