Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Grubstake > Pick-n-Sledge Loop, Apex Park

Argos>Grubstake>Pick-N-Sledge>Apex Loop
Apex Park, Jefferson County Open Space

Date Hiked: July 31, 2012

Distance: 5.4 mi (RT)

Elevation Min: 5,798 to 7,244ft

Apex Park Trail Map (Closure Map - Jeffco)
Grubstake>Pick-N-Sledge Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions: From Denver, take I-70 West, exit 6th Ave West/Colfax.  Head West on Colfax and turn right into Heritage Square/Apex Park.

The Grubstake > Pick-N-Sledge loop is accessed via the Argos Trail or the Apex Trail.  This is the main loop in the park and is a great workout.  From the parking lot, take the Argos trail as it switchbacks up the eastern face of Indian Mountain.  After .7 miles you'll reach the junction for Pick-N-Sledge Trail, head right for this hike or head left for a shorter loop.  The Pick-N-Sledge trail continues switchbacking up the mountain to the trail junction for the Grubstake Trail.  The views along the Pick-N-Sledge back east towards Denver and Golden are wonderful and some of the best views the park has to offer.  The Grubstake trail heads north along the side of the mountain weaving in and out of Pine Forest.   After a little ways, you enter a deep dark forest, turn west, then south and switchback up towards the summit of Indian Mountain.

You don't actually gain the summit before meeting up with the Pick-N-Sledge Trail and Sluicebox trail.   For this hike, I took the Sluicebox Trail down to the Apex Trail to return to the Trailhead, but apparently the Apex trail is still mostly closed due to the 2013 floods, so the Pick-N-Sledge is your only option for returning to the trailhead.  Check the park map before heading out.  If open, the Apex Trail is a straight shot down the canyon back to the parking lot.  The Pick-N-Sledge is a bit more scenic but will take longer.  Either way, you'll be feeling this hike the next day, a great training resource and extremely close to Denver/Golden.


Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Swallow > Coyote Song Loop, South Valley Park

Swallow > Coyote Song Loop
South Valley Park

Date Hiked: July 17, 2012

  • Distance: 2.1 mi (RT)
  • Elevation Gain: 1,000ft
  • Elevation Min/Max: 5,575 to 6,468ft
  • Managing Agency: Jefferson County Open Space
  • Fee: None

South Valley Park Website (Jeffco)
Swallow>Coyote Song Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  From Denver take I-70 west to C-470 east.  Exit at Ken Caryl Ave and head west.  Turn left onto S. Valley Road and take this to the main parking area.

The is the classic/standard hike through South Valley Park and it highlights the parks towering and iconic red rock formations.  The trail is relatively easy and a great hike for kids.  The trail skirts the major rock formations, gains a little elevation, and weaves through more formations while skirting a hogback ridge.   You can also do this loop by starting at the south trailhead.  The southern TH route adds about .8 mi (RT) to the hike and showcases even more of the magnificent rock formations. Either way you go you will not be disappointed.  With far fewer visitors than nearby Red Rocks Park or Roxborough State Park, South Valley offers a wonderfully peaceful alternative.

If starting from the Southern Trailhead:

Monday, July 16, 2012

Plymouth Mountain, Deer Creek Canyon Park

Plymouth Mountain
Deer Creek Canyon Park

Date Hiked: July 16, 2012
  • Distance: 7.4 mi (RT)
  • Elevation Gain: 2,000ft
  • Elevation Min/Max: 5,704 to 7,261ft
  • Managing Agency: Jefferson County Open Space
  • Fee: None
Deer Creek Canyon Park Website (Jeffco)
Plymouth Mountain Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions: From Denver take I-70 west to C470 east and exit at Deer Creek Canyon Road.  Head west past the South Valley Park trailhead and make a right at the sign for the park onto Grizzly Drive and into the main parking area.

This is my favorite hike in Deer Creek Canyon Park.  At 7.4 miles it is a great workout but not so strenuous that it would take you all day.  Start off my hiking the Meadowlark Trail for 1.6 miles.  When it connects with the Plymouth Creek Trail turn right and head uphill on the rocky and sometimes steep Plymouth Creek Trail (watch out for mountain bikers).  Continue uphill for another .8 miles past the 1st junction with the Plymouth Mountain Trail and turn left at the second junction with the Plymouth Mountain Trail.  By this point you've gained much of the elevation and the hiking gets easier.

After half a mile, turn left onto the Scenic View Trail for a short ways to a wonderful overlook and viewpoint.  There are large boulders here but they are easy to scramble up for the best views.  Return on the Scenic View Trail and turn left back onto the Plymouth Mountain Trail.  Follow the trail as it skirts (mostly downhill) around Plymouth Mountain and connects back to the Plymouth Creek Trail.  On the return you can either continue with the Plymouth Creek Trail or take the Meadowlark Trail back to the parking lot, I prefer the Meadowlark Trail as it is hiker only, but the Plymouth Creek trail is the quickest way back.