Roxborough State Park is a treat and it is close to the metro area, just about eight miles from C-470. The 3,339-acre park is known for its dramatic red-rock formations.
Roxborough is a great place to bring visitors. The Fountain Valley Trail is a 2.3 mile loop that winds through the rock formations and is considered easy to moderate.
When you are ready for a long, harder hike, then consider Carpenter Peak. Carpenter Peak is a 7,160 feet high peak that gives visitors an impressive view of the area.
All of the hikes in the park start at the Visitor’s Center. Before you start, stop inside and read the board with the list of wildlife sightings. Roxborough State Park is home to a range of wildlife from birds to deer to black bears.
The Carpenter Peak Trail starts at a sign board just outside the Visitor’s Center. Behind the sign is a beautiful rock formation. Hike south through the trees and around the formation to a view of the valley east of the park. When you come to trail splits, keep following the signs that say “Carpenter Peak.” The hike starts fairly flat for the first half-mile giving you a chance to enjoy the scenery and warm up.
About 0.5 miles from the Visitor’s Center, the hike crosses a road. From here, the trail gains about 1,000 feet of elevation over the next 2.6 miles. The trail winds through trees in some areas and short shrubs in other areas. I would not attempt this hike on a sunny, hot, summer day.
The trail is typically single-track as it climbs up to a ridge. At the Elk Valley Trail split, you’re more than half way, just one-and-a-third miles from the top.
There is a false summit along the way. Enjoy the views, catch your breath as the trail drops down before the final climb to the peak. You’ll know you’re close when you see the turnoff marked with a sign that says “Carpenter Peak 0.1 miles.”
At the top, you’ll find lots of rocks with a view.
As you take in the sights, it’s time to talk about how you feel. From here, it’s 3.1 miles back to the Visitor’s Center on the same trails. However, if you’re up for a little more distance, consider taking the Powerline Trail back. When you drop off the peak, follow the signs for Waterton Canyon. You’ll hike 0.6 miles to the turnoff for the Waterton Canyon/Powerline Trails. Take the Waterton Canyon Trail if you want even more mileage or turn on the Powerline Trail back towards the Visitor’s Center.
The Powerline Trail is an old road with some ups and down as it follows large powerlines. It sounds bad, but it’s really not. Soon the road turns away from the powerlines as it winds through a large open meadow. The meadow is a pleasant surprise and very different than the views on the first half of the hike.
After 1.75 miles on the Powerline Trail, turn on to the Elk Valley Trail and climb up a ridge back to the main Carpenter Peak Trail. At the Carpenter Peak Trail head east and retrace your earlier steps back to the Visitor’s Center.
Details: To Carpenter Peak and back is 6.2 miles with about 1,000 feet of elevation gain. If you decide to add the Powerline and Elk Valley Trails, the hike becomes about 8 miles with about 1,200 feet of elevation gain.
Directions: From C-470, take Wadsworth south past Chatfield State Park. Turn left on Waterton Road (just before the entrance to Lockheed Martin.) Continue on Waterton Road until it ends at North Rampart Range Road. Turn right (south) on North Rampart Range Road. After 2.3 miles, you’ll see the entrance to Roxborough State Park on your left, just before the entrance to Arrowhead golf course.
For more hikes in Douglas County, try “The Rock” in Castle Rock or Spruce Mountain Open Space. For more hikes in Colorado and the west, click here.