“Colorado wrapped into one trail offering elevation, lakes, creeks, and mountain views.”
— Taylor Simmons
Birding · Fall Colors · Lake · River/Creek · Views · Wildflowers
Park Hours 5 AM - 10 PM and $7 park fee to be paid at visitor center.
Many in the greater Denver area consider this the most beautiful park within an hours drive of Denver. Enjoy the scenery; stop at the lake early in the trail and admire the views back to the south. This particular trail is covered by trees for a great part, but you'll be able to ignore that because the descent toward, then along, Deer Creek
is a runner's dream.
Need to Know
Park fee! Also, counterclockwise is preferable in the summer because the south, southwest side of the trail will bake in the sun by late morning and early afternoon.
The descent along Deer Creek
is fast with rocks and roots aplenty. They won't slow you down, but they will require some focus.
Start ascending singletrack to the west. After a mile or so, your route will turn into dirt road heading northwest. After another half-mile, you'll reach a lake that offers spectacular views back to the south; it's worth a stop.
From this point, you'll follow a dirt road north for a bit, leading into a steep ascent and a few switchbacks toward Windy Peak. Before reaching the peak, you hit a junction and bear left (staying on Mountain Lion) and head back down another set of steep switchbacks toward Deer Creek
. You'll continue to drop elevation as you follow along the creek; this section is quite fast, with roots, rocks, and several creek crossings.
The dirt path turns back south, then southwest as you exit the forested area. From here, the elevation profile is mostly flat, trail wide, and the footing very good. You'll have a brief descent again heading south directly back to notch creek where you started.