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Elk Meadow Loop

Intermediate
 3.9 (29) RECOMMENDED ROUTE

A scenic loop traveling through both an open meadow and old-growth forest.


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Map Key

5.2

Miles

8.4

KM

97%

Runnable

8,083' 2,464 m

High

7,562' 2,305 m

Low

513' 156 m

Up

527' 161 m

Down

4%

Avg Grade (2°)

17%

Max Grade (10°)

Dogs Leashed

Features Birding · Fall Colors · Views · Wildflowers · Wildlife

The park is closed an hour before sundown and reopens an hour before dawn.

Overview

This is a lovely loop which ascends the Sleepy S Trail from Elk Meadow into the pine forest surrounding Bergen Peak. Sleepy S Trail turns into the Meadow View Trail shortly after where you drop back into the meadow and join the Painter's Pause Trail. Painter's Pause Trail empties into the parking lot, returning you back to the starting point.

Need to Know

If running the route counter-clockwise, the Painter's Pause Trail is subtly uphill and in direct sunlight, especially in the AM. On hot summer days, water can be a lifesaver!

Runner Notes

This route demands your full attention in parts, as exposed rocks and roots pose a trip hazard.

Description

Depending on your opinion of hills, it is easier to run this loop clockwise, so as to climb in the shade and gain most of the elevation in the beginning. In order to do so, take a left from the trailhead on the Sleepy S Trail and begin the run heading southwest towards Bergen Peak.

For the first two miles, the trail is rolling, with a net elevation gain. There will be an intersection with the Elk Ridge Trail but continue straight on Sleepy S. The trail winds south before turning back north and west, and heading uphill at a steeper incline.

There is a beautiful shelter about halfway up the hill, which provides a great place to catch your breath and enjoy the forest. Once you're about two miles in, the trail begins to drop in net elevation, while remaining rolling. As the trail descends, the landscape changes from forest to more open meadow, affording expansive views of Bergen Park. The Sleepy S Trail eventually turns into the Meadow View Trail along the way.

If 5 miles seems a bit long, there is a bail-out point at the intersection of the Meadow View Trail, and the Founders Trail, which shortens the loop by about a mile. If you're in for the whole tuna, continue on the Meadow View Trail as it makes a sharp right turn, and dead-ends into the Painter's Pause Trail. Take the right, and enjoy the fast descent into the parking lot!

When running through the grassland of the Painter's Pause Trail, keep a look out for bluebirds and speckled woodpeckers, as they often nest there.

Flora & Fauna

Elk Meadow takes its name from the large herds of elk that inhabit the area, but don't be surprised to see deer or the occasional coyote. During summer months, the meadow is also a haven for brilliant blue birds, woodpeckers, and a variety of hawks. Be alert during dawn/dusk hours, as mountain lions have been sighted in the area!

History & Background

Visible from the parking lot is the original Bergen Barn, a well-maintained relic of the first settlers of the area. A common stop on the logging route, the Bergen's established one of the first general stores in the region.

Contacts

Shared By:

Mikhaila Redovian

Trail Ratings

  3.9 from 29 votes

#610

Overall
  3.9 from 29 votes
5 Star
14%
4 Star
69%
3 Star
14%
2 Star
3%
1 Star
0%
Recommended Route Rankings

#123

in Colorado

#610

Overall
88 Views Last Month
8,184 Since Jul 29, 2015
Intermediate

7%
0%
93%
0%
0%
0%

Photos

Remarkable views to the south, taken from the final turn towards the parking lot on the Painter's Pause trail.
Jul 29, 2015 near Kittredge, CO
This is right around the start of the shady portion if you take the Elk Ridge shortcut.
Aug 13, 2017 near Kittredge, CO

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Check-Ins

Dec 7, 2020
Atsuko Ohtake
Sep 26, 2020
Elizabeth Stapleton
3mi
Sep 1, 2020
Jon Velotta
8000' and not acclimated. Very slow. Took Elk ridge shortcut by mistake. Ok trail, but full of bikers and the last mile is too close to the road. 4.1mi
Aug 20, 2019
Toko Morimoto
Jul 23, 2019
Emma H-p
Never drink a shit ton of beer the day before — 0h 57m
Jul 14, 2019
Andrew Jacobson
Great run/hike. Lotta switchbacks. 16.2mi — 3h 19m
Jul 2, 2019
Nick Ferguson
HOT
Jun 2, 2019
Kelly Carlin
5.2mi