Golden, Colorado

Hike the Elk Range Trail

Originally added by Rachel Tand

Distance: 6.6 miles roundtrip (out-and-back). Elevation gain: 400 ft. Easy, flat hike. Backcountry feel with a well-marked trail. Wildflower meadows and snow-capped mountains. Close to Golden but feels very secluded.

This is an incredible and beautiful hike that is just off of Route 6 but feels a million miles away. Drive up Douglas Mountain Road for the west park access (and I do mean UP - it's a quick elevation gain), and you'll run right into the Centennial Cone Park entrance. There is a bathroom and a decent amount of parking, especially when you're one of the only people on the trail like I was! This trail is also used by mountain bikers, and it's important to note that on weekends, odd days are reserved for hikers and even days for bikers. I went on a weekday, and it was practically deserted. There are also periodic closures for the elk, so make sure to check the Jefferson County website before you go.

You will see the trailhead from the parking lot, and the trail itself is very easy to follow the entire way. The first mile or so is open meadow with some incredible views of the Rockies, and then you will reach a gate that takes you onto private property for a short stretch. Make sure to close the gate behind you!

You will go through one more gate that you need to make sure stays closed, and the rest of the hike out is rolling hills, gorgeous wildflowers and trees. You will probably see some wildlife too! The trail is wide enough that you can easily pass other hikers or bikers. It did get quite muddy in places, so I recommend gaiters if it has been raining. I also recommend sunscreen, because you are almost totally exposed for the entire hike.

After 3 miles, you will reach the north access parking lot, which is your turnaround point. There's a lovely little bench to take a breath, and then you can return the way you came. The view on the hike back is really stunning because you're walking into the mountains instead of away from them. This hike was honestly one of the most beautiful I've ever done, and it's easy enough and short enough to be accessible to almost anyone.

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Tags

Fitness
Photography
Running
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

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One of the better trails in the foothills near Denver. Sections of the park are closed in the winter months for hunting and elk habitat.

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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