Located north and west of Castle Rock
, Roxborough State Park
, is relatively small but packs a lot of big features, making it a worthy road trip.
With only four trails, plus two short overlook trails, the offerings at Roxborough look pretty meager at first glance, but the looks are deceiving. With only foot traffic allowed in the park, it’s the perfect place for families, bird watchers and flower aficionados to enjoy without having to share the trail with bikes, pets or horses. The visitors center, which also has a bin of hiking poles available to borrow, serves as the hiking hub for the park.
The Fountain Valley trail
, loops to the north of the visitors center for a total of about two and a quarter miles. Although the park brochure lists the trail as “moderate,” I think most would actually find it to be an easy trail — relatively flat and wide, and suitable for families with kids.
The short spurs to the Fountain Valley and Lyons Overlooks offer good views of the red vertical rocks that loom around the perimeter of the park. And at the far north end of the trail, where it starts to loop back to the visitors center, there are a couple of historical structures. There were numerous varieties of wildflowers in bloom along the trail when I visited last month, all worthy of photos.
South of the visitors center are three other trails. The three mile South Rim trail
runs around the red rock formations around the south end of the park. The climbs to the upper part of the rim are gentle and no harder than moderate in difficulty, but offers nice views from one end of the park to the other. The Willow Creek trail
cuts across the bottom half of the South Rim trail, making for a shorter loop of approximately a mile and a half.
The longest trail in the park is the Carpenter Peak trail
, about six and a half miles roundtrip to the highest point in the park, starting at the Willow Creek trail. Although rated as “strenuous” by the park, I found it to be more of a moderate trail. The trail gently winds it way up a few switchbacks until it follows a gently contoured line to the peak. Carpenter Peak trail is also easily passable in the winter, with winter weight hiking boots or snowshoes. The best views here are to the east, overlooking the entire park.
To get there from Colorado Springs: Take I-25 north to the Founders Parkway exit in Castle Rock and turn left. Turn right onto Santa Fe Drive, and continue to the Titan Road exit. Turn left on Titan Road. The road curves and becomes Rampart Range Road. Continue past several strip malls and developments and turn left on to Roxborough Park Road, then an immediate right onto the park entrance road.
Bob Falcone is a retired firefighter, photographer, hiker, college instructor and business owner who has lived in Colorado Springs for over 23 years. He is the president of the Friends of Cheyenne Canon and a member of the El Paso County Parks Advisory Board. You can follow him on Twitter (@hikingbob), Facebook (Hiking Bob), or visit his website (Hikingbob.com). E-mail questions, comments, suggestions, etc to Bob: firstname.lastname@example.org.