Colorado is blessed to have so much amazing and accessible open space. To experience a hike back East like the one I did today at Colorado’s Staunton State Park, it would take hours of driving, packing and planning. Instead I woke up early on a Saturday morning in Denver. At 7 am I googled “Good hikes near Denver”. By 8:30 I was standing on the trailhead. Nice.
The park is a short drive west of metro Denver near the town of Conifer, an cute burg nestled in Aspen Park in the foothills of the Rockies. If you are in Denver and can’t get an extended trip into the Mountains (but then why would you BE in Denver), it is a great place to feel like you have escaped.
Here is a little history from their website:
Colorado’s newest state park opened to the public on May 18, 2013. The park is located approximately 40 miles southwest of downtown Denver, north of US Highway 285 and about six miles west of Conifer. The Park sits divided between Park and Jefferson counties, in Pine, Colorado.
The first 1,720-acre parcel of land was donated to Colorado State Parks in 1986 by Frances Hornbrook Staunton. Subsequent parcels of land were added over the years to make up the now 3,828 acre park. Read more about the story of Staunton State Park at our history page.
You can download a trail map here. A lot of folks hike to the scenic Elk Falls Overlook, which features a scenic 100 foot waterfall. The entire hike out and back is almost 11 miles. Being both ill-equipped (traveling without boots or pack) and seeking a little more solitude on a busy Saturday, I made a 7 mile loop using the Staunton Ranch Trail out and the Marmot Passage Trail back. It was a beautiful walk through meadows, woods and some old ranch trails. I was grateful to have used the Marmot Trail for my return because the trail was a little steep, but the return was almost entirely a decent.
This is also a great hike for kids on an even trail with open vistas along the way. Enjoy!