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Elk Meadow Loop


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

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8,083' 2,464 m


7,562' 2,305 m


513' 156 m


527' 161 m



Avg Grade (2°)


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.


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.


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.


Shared By:

Mikhaila Redovian

Trail Ratings

  4.0 from 33 votes


  4.0 from 33 votes
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in Colorado


119 Views Last Month
9,584 Since Jul 29, 2015



First small hill.
May 28, 2021 near Kittredge, CO
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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