Winter Hiking and Wildlife in Waterton Canyon

Colorado Waterton Canyon Trailhead

Added by Ryan Mckinney

Bighorn Sheep!Wild TurkeyGreat Place to Hike, Run or BikeUp to 12.4 miles roundtrip hiking

Waterton Canyon is the beginning of the Colorado Trail which stretches 500 miles from Denver to Durango. Camping is allowed on the Colorado Trail but is not allowed in the first 6 miles section of Waterton Canyon, which is managed by Denver Water. The gravel road is great for running, biking, hiking, and wildlife viewing. Because the Waterton Canyon Trail is primarily flat, it is an easy trail that would be good for the whole family. You can hike the entire 6.2 miles out on the trail, but the further you go, the more challenging the hike becomes.

Bighorn sheep are impressive animals. They can weigh up to 300lbs and their horns can weigh 30lbs. Despite their size, bighorn sheep are extremely agile. There was never a dull moment watching them, even after a few hours. During the rut(November-December) Rams can be seen fighting to establish dominance. There is nothing that compares to the loud crack of to large rams colliding!

Near the beginning of the hike keep an eye out for wild turkey! If you don't see them on the ground, look up in the trees! Mule deer also frequent this trail. Dogs are not allowed on this trail to protect the bighorn sheep.

Pack List

  • Camera
  • Tripod
  • Water
  • Jacket
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Activities:

Backpacking, Fitness, Hiking, Photography

Skill Level:

Beginner

Season:

Spring, Autumn, Winter

Trail Type:

Out-and-Back

Distance:

12.4 Miles

Rating:

Features:

Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Groups
River
Scenic
Wildlife

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How to Get There

4 months ago

Good workout! Nice trail

This trail is very well maintained, and has a little uphill incline, giving you a great workout. It was a little more crowded than I was expecting but not overwhelming. No big horned sheep or turkey were out with crowds of people walking through. Late December but very warm with little to no wind in the canyon. Perfect for biking also, would be a great bike ride or trail ride on horseback. A little less wooded and out in the open than I would prefer, but overall beautiful hike with scenic rock views and a winding river next to the trail. Nice periods of shade and sun, and benches and bathrooms along the trail. Perfect afternoon hike if you aren't trying to drive far

4 months ago

about 1 year ago

Closed Monday -Saturday

Went to the trail head today (Saturday 2/20/16), and it was closed. The sign says that the first 2 miles of this trail are closed Monday through Saturday. The sign suggested the Indian Creek Trail as an alternate path around the closure.

about 1 year ago

about 1 year ago

First 2 Miles Okay

I hiked two miles in before turning around. The road is VERY flat; it's a service road and you'll see a few cars, a lot of runners, and a number of mountain bikers. I think this would have been a great ride for the view, but the hike (at least 2mi in) was a bit too casual for me. Can get surprisingly windy, but ta very warm in the sun. No sheep sightings that close in, unfortunately.

about 1 year ago

over 1 year ago

Great views and sheep sighting

I did this hike in December 2015 and really enjoyed myself. The path you walk along is actually a dirt road, but it is kept up very well and there are a few additional hikes you can do if you wander off the trail a bit. We saw some big horned sheep on the road and in the mountains as well. This hike is also great if you are into Geocaching- there are several located along the route! Overall it is an easy hike with amazing views of the mountains, and I am excited to return in the summer and ride my bike here!

over 1 year ago

almost 2 years ago

An incredible hike at any time, the Strontia Springs Dam at the end is an incredible sight towering over the landscape some 200 feet high, maybe more. A bit further up the Big Horn Sheep have a hangout spot before the Colorado Trail entrance.

almost 2 years ago

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