Hike the South Rim Trail at Roxborough State Park

Roxborough State Park Parking Area, Littleton, Colorado, United States

  • Activities:

    Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    3 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    300 Feet

Family Friendly
Groups
Picnic Area
Scenic
Wildflowers
Wildlife

This is an easy to moderate trail close to the Denver metro area that offers spectacular views of the red rock formations. This hike is open year round and features great wildflower and wildlife viewing opportunities and geologic formations. Great for families an photographers.

Roxborough State Park is one of the closest parks to the Denver metro area and is the perfect place to go if you're looking to experience the great outdoors without having to drive too far from the city.

One of my favorite trails in the park is the South Rim Trail which takes you on an easy to moderate trail up a series of switchbacks to an excellent vista of the geologic formations and the valley below. Whenever I have out-of-state visitors, I always take them to Roxborough State Park as I feel it's an excellent place to showcase some of Colorado's natural beauty.

The following description will take the trail in a clockwise loop. From the parking area, follow the user trail back down the road to link up with the Willow Creek Trail. Cross the bridge and continue hiking for about 0.2 miles until you come to an intersection. Stay to the left to continue onto the South Rim Trail. From here, it's about another mile and approximately 300 feet of vertical gain until you reach the high point of the trail. As you climb, don't forget to stop and take a look behind you to take in spectacular views of the red sandstone Fountain Formation.

After the high point, the trail will descend on moderate grade back into the willows and through the rocks before opening up into a big meadow. Keep your eyes peeled for mammals and birds that call the park home. After about 0.7 miles from the high point you will come to an intersection with the Carpenter Peak trail, stay to the right to complete the loop back to the parking area.

Shortly after the Carpenter Peak intersection, the trail reaches another intersection with the Willow Creek Trail. If you parked at the smaller, lower lot, take a hard right back to the parking area. If you'd like to extend your hike or would like to stop by the Visitors Center, continue straight and to the left. A half mile of easy hiking will lead you to the Visitors Center and to the completion of the loop.

The park is open year round, so this trail can be enjoyed any time of the year. I would probably bring micro spikes if doing this trail in the winter, however, as the inclines and declines can be tricky in the snow.

There are a few things the visitor should know before visiting the park:

  • Be aware for rattlesnakes and poison ivy as both are present in the park.
  • Mountain biking, rock climbing, and horse back riding are not allowed in the park.
  • Hikers must stay on the trail. Do not cut switchbacks as this causes erosion.
  • Dogs are not allowed, so be sure to leave Fido at home.
  • The park entrance fee is $7, be sure to have cash on hand.
  • The park is quite popular on the weekends, especially in the summer, so be sure to arrive early in the morning or later in the evening if you want to avoid lines at the entrance gate. When the lot is full, rangers restrict cars to one-out-one-in. Wait times generally don't exceed 20-30 minutes, but who likes waiting in line???

Pack List

  • Good hiking shoes
  • Water
  • Hat
  • Yaktrak or spikes if hiking in winter
  • Sunscreen
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Roxborough State Park is my favorite State Park - I feel like all of the trails have something different to offer. And while that is definitely the case for the South Rim Trail, I just feel like some of the others have better views at a similar distance! Definitely a great hike, but for me there's much better in the park.

7 months ago
7 months ago

Hiked this look with my toddler, and my whole side of the family. All experienced hikers but was quite easy with multiple kids under 3 in tow. Beautiful scenery and small structures along the way. Bring a camera and your family!

9 months ago
9 months ago

Pretty place - but gates close too soon

over 1 year ago
over 1 year ago

I've done this hike multiple times as a sunrise hike (I guess this isn't technically allowed) and it's beautiful. There's two great points at the top to stop and take pics. I've done it once in the snow which was very tricky, but there were deep footprints for us to follow. Nice easy hike overall!

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

I enjoy this loop, you can hike it year round, sun or snow. Good wild life viewing and photo ops along the way.

about 2 years ago
about 2 years ago

Although it's not open for sunrise or sunset the vibrant fall colors set against the red rocks make this one of the best spots near Denver.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Johnathan Valdez Explorer

I'm a Colorado native that's passionate about photography, exploring nature, live music, and craft beer. On my free days you'll most likely find me on the trail and behind my camera. Life is short, get out there and explore! Follow my adventures here on The Outbound and on Instagram @capulinflicker.

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