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Ridgeline Open Space Hike

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Ridgeline Open Space is nestled in the Meadows residential area of Castle Rock. This network of over 13 miles of trails winds through elevated grasslands and gamble oak with a backdrop of distant snow-capped peaks of the Front Range. Hike it or bike it for a quick escape from the work week. Explore the full Ridgeline Open Space hike profileRead more


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Hall Ranch Hike Near Lyons, Colorado

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Hall Ranch, just outside of Lyons Colorado, is a hiking, mountain biking, trail running destination that features red sandstone buttes, vast green meadows, and panoramic views of white snowcapped meadows. Tucked into the foothills near the St. Vrain River, the trails at Hall Ranch are a great escape from life in the city. Explore the full Hall Ranch hike profileRead more


Horseshoe Trail at Golden Gate Canyon Park

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he Horseshoe Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park is a wonderful hike for older kids, experienced and non-experienced hikers. It's a great trail for spotting wildlife, from birds to deer, viewing fall colors and wildflowers, and taking in the beautiful scenic view along the trail. Several of the backcountry campsites areas are also accessible from the Horseshoe trail. We'll detail those locations, provide links to a trail map, driving directions and more in the trail profile on this Colorado hike.
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horseshoe trail golden gate canyon state park

Golden Gate Canyon's Horseshoe Trail is a 3.6 mile out-and-back hike (1.8 miles one-way). We've rated it as moderate in difficulty because of the 900+ feet of elevation gain. The Horseshoe Trail is popular because it follows the beds of several small streams, winds through groves of aspen trees, and leads to beautiful meadows, as well as three of Golden Gate Canyon State Park's backcountry camping areas.

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To get to the trailhead (first,use our driving directions). Once in the park, exit to the right out of the Visitors Center--you'll want to stop here first to pick up a map. You'll find the Frazer Meadows parking area and trailhead for the Horseshoe Trail on the left-hand side of the road. Keep in mind that parking is limited, so it would be best to arrive early. There are also restrooms at the Horseshoe trail trailhead and we found them to be kept up and clean.
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One of the highlights of this trail are the streams that run along it. You'll find that there are several small bridges to cross as you make your way up the trail. Seasonal streams also mean that sections of the Horseshoe trail will get muddy on after rains and during the Spring melt-water runoff. But water also means wildflowers, and this trail comes alive with them in late Spring through the Summer.

The Horseshoe Trail also leads you to access trails for three of the five Golden Gate Canyon backcountry camping areas. Use this link to the backcountry camping brochure to get details on cost per night and how to make campsite reservations in Golden Gate Canyon State Park. The first campsite access trail is at 1.1 miles and will take you to Greenfield Meadows, which has 4 campsites. Continuing on the same spur, you can hike further in to the Frazer Meadow campsite which has 4 campsites and one backcountry shelter. If you continue on the Horseshoe trail, you'll come upon the access trail for Rim Meadow campsite at 1.3 miles. Rim Meadow also has 4 campsites.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking the Horseshoe Trail:

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    • Park Pass: A Colorado State Park Pass is required to enter Golden Gate Canyon State Park. Check the Golden Gate Canyon Fees page for details on park passes. Some trails offer passes at self-serve dispensers.
    • Printed map: The trail forks to the left, make sure to have a printed map on hand which you can pick up at the Visitors Center.
    • Bug spray: for hot summer days not a bad idea.
    • Sun protection: The trail is often shaded--a rare thing for Front Range hikes--but be sure to bring sun protection because it is almost 4 miles round trip and there are areas exposed to the sun.
    • No cell phone: There is no cell phone coverage at Golden Gate Canyon State Park.
    • Download our Dayhikes Hiking Guide for a day hike packing checklist
    • After the Hike: Windy Saddle Cafe in Golden
    • Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
    • Trail Map for Golden Gate Canyon State Park: Trail Map Link
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        A big thanks goes out to Lisa Palmer, a member of our Dayhikes Pathfinder Team, who hiked this trail with her family, gathered the information for the trail profile, and took the photos for this post.

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        Map & Driving Directions


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Greenland Open Space Trail Near Larkspur, Colorado

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olling meadows stretch to spectacular views of Pikes Peak on this easy Colorado hike near Larkspur. The Greenland Trail takes you across the stunning grasslands near Larkspur, Colorado, a Douglas County Open Space that spreads across 3,600 acres of sun-drenched fields.The Greenland Open Space trailhead can be easily accessed from I-25. Check out the full trail profile below for detailed descriptions, trail map, and driving directions to this great hike along Colorado's Front Range.
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Greenland open space has one main trail, the Greenland Trail (appropriately named) that forms a 10 mile loop. However, your not stuck hiking the entire thing, you’ve got options. We’ll briefly profile three different ways you can hike the Greenland trail and customize it for you and your family (scroll past the video panorama for the three options).
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It’s a perfect place for horseback riding. In fact, when I-25 disappears from view, you may think you’ve time-traveled back to the early 1800‘s. You can leave your trailer on the parking area, but keep in mind that Greenland open space can get very crowded on the weekends. So, get there early to make sure you’ve got a place to park.

There is also a great 17 acre off-leash dog park just to the east of the trailhead. The open space area requires fido to be on a leash. Click here for more info on the Devon Theune off-leash dog park and for a list of the others in Douglas County.


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Hike Options at Greenland Open Space

#1 - Greenland Trailhead to the Santa Fe Trailhead in Palmer Lake - 5.6 Miles One Way
At the first fork in the trail, stay straight (right) on the Greenland Trail. You’ll pass a small pond and work your way through scrub oak and pines as the trail rises. At 3.5 miles you’ll see the option to turn left onto Kipps Loop. Instead of going left onto Kipps Loop, continue straight (South) on the trail. You’ll cross County Line road around 4.6 miles, then you’ll have one mile left until you arrive at the New Santa Fe Trailhead in Palmer Lake, Colorado. Out and back, this is an 11.2 mile trek across Greenland Open Space. The views of Pikes Peak and the neighboring Buttes of Spruce and Eagle Mountain mean a lot of beautiful scenery to soak in.

#2 - The Greenland Open Space Loop Trail - Approx. 10 Mile Loop
Our first tip on hiking Kipps loop is hike it counter-clockwise. This will give you a nice long and gradual two-mile descent as you are coming back into the trailhead. There’s only about 500’ of elevation gain on this hike, but your knees will be grateful at the end of the trip. Follow the same directions above, but when you get to the Kipps Loop option after 3.5 miles, take a left (East) onto the Kipps Loop of the Greenland Trail (your still officially on the Greenland Trail). The first 5 miles of the hike are uphill until you reach the high point which is at 7,400 feet. This is a great place to stop and enjoy the view. You’ll pass the gravesite of E. Kipp, and an unusual white rock formation along this eastern side of the loop. As we said before, the rest of your hike will be pretty much downhill from there back to the trailhead.

greenland open space entrance

#3 - Just Explore - Approx. 1-3 Miles
Just because it’s a big loop doesn’t mean that you have to hike the entire thing. If you are hiking this as a sunset hike, you’ll likely want to keep it short. You can take either the eastern or western sides of the loop and hike until you are ready to turn around. Sunrises and sunsets are quite glorious in Greenland, and this is a great way to enjoy them.
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Tips & Resources for Hiking Greenland Open Space Trail :

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  • TIP: There is no water on this trail so bring more than one bottle just in case. Don’t forget, dogs need plenty of water too!
  • TIP: You are very exposed to lightning. Douglas County has some of the worst stats in the nation when it comes to lightning strikes, so really pay attention to the weather. Dark clouds moving over the edge of the foothills means that you should be headed back to the car.
  • TIP: Bring the Sunscreen - you are also very exposed to the sun - no shade in Greenland. If you are hiking mid-day, then be sure to bring a hat and sunscreen.
  • TIP: If you are snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, or even hiking in winter, be aware that drifts form along the Greenland Trail.
  • TIP: There is a fantastic picnic area on the other side of the facade of the old Greenland general store.
  • Trail Map for Greenland Open Space: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Charito’s House

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greenland open space general store
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Spruce Mountain Hikes Near Larkspur

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hese hikes along Spruce Mountain near Larkspur, Colorado offer both expansive vista of Colorado's rolling green hills and a unique view of Pikes Peak. Spruce Mountain is a tall butte just 45 minutes south of Denver. This hiking trail follows the outer edge of the mountain giving you a great 360 degree view of the area. Check out the entire hike profile below to get acquainted with Spruce Mountain before you hike it. You'll find links to trail maps, driving directions, and all the details you'll need to strike out on this Colorado trail.
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Spruce Mountain offers breathtaking views of Pikes Peak, Eagle Mountain, and the rolling hills of Greenland and Larkspur. Most trails close to Denver are pretty exposed to the sun, so we were pleasantly surprised with how much shade the trees provided along the trails. Still, bring sunscreen because the South side of Spruce Mountain is a bit more exposed.
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We rated this as medium in difficulty because of the first segment, which climbs about 400' in the space of about a quarter mile. After that that trail is relatively level. So, we'd put this on the easy side of medium. Because of that, this makes a great family hike close to Denver. But we'd highly recommend getting on the trail by 9am on the weekends (see the tips below).
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Two Options for the Spruce Mountain Hike:

1 - 1.5+ Mile Hike to the Greenland Overlook - (out and back) Take a left where the trail forks and head up to the overlook (about 3/4 mile). This is a great first option if you have children with you. The views of Pikes Peak may be the best in Douglas County, and you can see how the family is doing and decide whether or not you want to continue on the loop hike.

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2 - 4+ Mile Spruce Mountain Loop Trail - Continue west on the trail making a loop around the top of Spruce Mountain. You'll encounter fantastic views of Eagle Mountain, and the Windy Point overlook. Just a quick note that the service road may look like a shortcut back to the trailhead, but it's not. It is an option though if you would like to hike the open meadows between Eagle and Spruce mountains.

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Tips & Resources for Hiking Spruce Mountain Hikes Near Larkspur :

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  • Speed Trap? We haven't seen the lurking cop car, but their are all the makings of a good old speed trap in Larkspur. So, take it easy. Our guess is that when the Renaissance festival is in full swing that traffic will really back up. The first reason to go early, and to probably allow more than 45 minutes for the drive.
  • The Spruce Mountain Trailhead Parking Fills Fast: There is a lot of parking, but the lot was full by 11am on a Saturday. Second reason to go early.
  • Great For Fido: There were more dogs on this trail than we've seen on any other, probably because most of the hike is pretty level and shaded. However, it makes for a bit of a traffic jam at times. Third reason to go early.
  • Great Hike For Visiting Friends and Family: This hike has a lot of bang for the buck, and once you are up the first mile it's smooth sailing. It would be a great place to take out of towners who may be looking for a less demanding hike.
  • Trail Map for Spruce Mountain Open Space: Trail Map Link
  • Colorado Road Conditions: Colorado Road Conditions
  • After the Hike: Charito’s House

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spruce mountain open space trailhead

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Canyon View Nature Trail at Castlewood Canyon

Castlewood Canyon cuts a unique and green landscape into the plains near Denver. It's not the mountains, but it's worth the drive. Castlewood Canyon State Park has created this beautiful paved trail that follows the canyon rim. Read more


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Lakes Loop Trail at Rocky Mountain Arsenal

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An arsenal turned into a Wildlife Refuge. What a great idea! The refuge boasts over 15,000 acres and over 300 species of wildlife. It also hosts three lakes and Denver lake hikes. The Lakes Loop Trail at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal Wildlife Refuge is a 1.7 mile loop that winds along the shores of two lakes in the park, Lake Mary and Lake Ladora. Explore the full trail profileRead more