Castlewood Canyon State Park, just an hour south of Denver, offers dozens of hiking trails above and through a hidden canyon carved out years ago by the Cherry Creek, which flows along its canyon floor. The 2,634-acre park is also home to an old homestead, numerous scenic overlooks, a natural amphitheater, and the historic Castlewood Canyon Dam. This unique state park not only boasts the best canyon hike near Denver, but it’s also home to a little slice of Colorado history. Hike anywhere from a quarter of a mile to twelve miles and enjoy the immense environmental diversity that Castlewood Canyon has to offer.
This spectacular state park affords the opportunity for hiking, rock climbing, photography, nature study, and the exploration of the ecologically diverse Black Forest region of our glorious state.
From the park's West Entrance, you can travel the brief, easy .35-mile trail to the Lucas Homestead Historic Site, built in the late 1800s.
From there you can continue on to the stunning 2.14-mile Rimrock Trail for panoramic views of the surrounding valley and the geologically unique landscape of Castlewood Canyon.
The Rimrock Trail leads to the Dam Ruins Historic Site. The Castlewood Canyon Dam was constructed in the late 1800s and in 1933, the dam burst, sending a 15-foot high wave of rushing water that flowed all the way to Denver, resulting in the second worst flood in our city's history.
Today you can explore the area around the dam's remains, but for your own safety and the preservation of the ruins: Keep off the dam!
If you're interested in a shorter loop, you can take the Creek Bottom Trail and the Falls Spur, which will lead you to a small but lovely waterfall on the canyon floor.
You have the choice of traveling along the Cliff Base and Climbers Trails (each at just 0.3 miles) with the famed 0.1-mile Cave Trail spur between them. From there, the charming Cherry Creek Trail will lead you back to the West Entrance.
However, for those who are interested in a longer loop, after exploring the Castlewood Canyon Dam, you can continue on to the short and fairly easy 1-mile Inner Canyon Trail, which leads you through diverse terrain and alongside intriguing rock formations.
The Inner Canyon Trail winds down to the Cherry Creek, where you'll meet up with the Lake Gulch Trail.
Meander along the Lake Gulch Trail, explore Cherry Creek and do a little rock hopping or find a nice place to sit, lunch, read, or relax along the water.
Another optional trail add-on is the paved 1.4-mile Canyon View Nature Trail for an elevated view of the beautiful Castlewood Canyon and scenic overlooks, including Canyon Point, Juniper Rock, and Bridge Canyon Overlook.
The East Canyon Preservation Area is accessible from the park's Main Entrance and has the moderate 4-mile East Canyon Trail, which boasts ecologically unique terrain, including meadows...
...spectacular panoramic views...
...and glimpses into the gorgeous Castlewood Canyon and Cherry Creek. (Note: Due to the fragile nature of this area, dogs and other pets are NOT allowed on the East Canyon Trail.)
No matter the season, the possibilities for discoveries are endless at Castlewood Canyon State Park!