A mere 20-30 minute drive from downtown Denver, here’s a quick hit for your hiking bucket list. This hike garners an 'Easy' rating by most standards and makes a great little escape from the city when you’re short on time. In the summer, plan to go in the early-ish morning or later in the afternoon, as the area is exposed, and the sun and open spaces at this elevation can get hot. You’ve got a high probability of seeing elk, rattlesnake, mule deer and other wildlife, especially in the morning and evening hours.
What Makes It Great
The area is known as South Valley Park, in Littleton (Jefferson County), and offers a sense of wildness not found near most metropolitan areas. Here, we’re recommending the Swallow Loop that includes the Swallow Trail and Coyote Song Trail. Park in the obvious parking area and find the southern end with signs to the Swallow Trail, which you’ll hit for just a tenth of a mile. There will be a junction (bear left in this case) then a quick left on the Coyote Song trail (north).
The spires, monoliths and walls of the “Lyons” and “Fountain” Formations will be your trailmate for a little under a mile as you make your way back to your waiting vehicle. There’s also the Grazing Elk loop here to extend the journey.