Staunton SP

Staunton SP

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Grazing Elk Loop, South Valley Park

Grazing Elk Loop via Valley View Trail
South Valley Park

Date Hiked: March 7, 2013

  • Distance: 5.6 mi (RT)
  • Elevation Gain: 300ft
  • Elevation Min/Max: 5,761 to 6,122ft
  • Managing Agency: Jefferson County Open Space
  • Fee: None
  • Note: This trail is subject to seasonal closures so check the park's website before heading out.

South Valley Park Website (Jeffco)
Grazing Elk Trail Map (Google Maps)

Directions:  From Denver take I-70 to C-470 east.  Exit at Ken Caryl and head west on Ken Caryl Avenue.  Turn Left onto S. Valley Road and take this to the main parking area.  The Valley View Trail starts across the street from the main parking lot.  Alternatively, Take C470 to Deer Creek Canyon Road west to the Southern Trailhead.

There is little to no parking at the start of the Grazing Elk trail so you really have two options.  The quickest access is to park at the Southern Trailhead along Dear Creek Canyon Road.  However, I like to start at the main parking lot on S. Valley Road and hike the 1.2 mile Valley View trail.  This trail is paved, but it gives you a nice overview of the Red Rock formations and adds 2.4 miles to the hike, making an otherwise quick 2.8 mile hike into an easy 5 1/2 mile hike.  Once the paved trail ends at the road, cross over to the other side of Deer Creek Canyon Road and look for the trail sign.

If you start from the Southern Trailhead, follow the trail towards the Swallow Trail, at the junction with the Coyote Song Trail head left on the Swallow Trail for .2 miles and turn left on the trail that leads back to Deer Creek Canyon Road.  The Grazing Elk trail starts just across the Road.

From Deer Creek Canyon Road the trail switchbacks up a short ridge and levels out into open meadow.  Take the loop whichever direction you want, the trail is level the entire way.  From the meadow you get nice views down the valley with the hogbacks and red rock spires adding an interesting landscape to your walk.

The Grazing Elk Loop lacks the red rock formation that the park is famous for, but it does offer a quiet, peaceful stroll through a stunning meadow nestled up agains the foothills.  Hike this trail in the evening and the grasses will glow.

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