No Ordinary Walk in the Park 4

Castlewood Canyon State Park Offers an Ideal Setting for Family Outings and Hikes

As you step out of your car to go for your walk in the park, you are greeted by the scent of pine wafting through the air. Blue, red, yellow and white wildflowers abound. The bright blue sky has a few puffy clouds floating overhead. Vultures and hawks soar over a deep chasm just off the concrete walkway. Mountain and Western bluebirds flit from tree to tree. Occasionally, deer and other wildlife can be spotted. This is certainly no ordinary walk in the park.

As you enter and go past the visitor center of Castlewood Canyon State Park, ample parking is provided in three good-sized parking lots. Concrete sidewalks lead away from each parking lot, past picnic tables, to the Canyon View Nature Trail, a paved, easy-to-walk, 1.2-mile trail (one way) with breathtaking vistas. Looking to the east, one can see the spectacular “Bridge to Nowhere,” which, by the way, is a bit of a misnomer since you actually have to drive over the bridge to get to the east entrance to the park.

This walk is ideal for family outings, walking the dog (on a leash, of course), picnicking or just getting away. Short paths drop off from the main trail to overlooks at the edge of the Canyon for exciting views of the rock walls, with Cherry Creek flowing through the willows and grass at the bottom.

If you are looking for a longer, slightly more challenging extension for your walk in the park, you can access the Inner Canyon/Lake Gulch Trail from the west end of the Canyon View Nature Trail. This broad, unpaved loop covers nearly 2 miles and takes visitors down more than 160 feet into the Canyon by the creek and back out. Or, from the east end of the Canyon View Nature Trail, you can take the more difficult, 4-mile East Canyon Preservation Trail, provided it is open for use.

Aside from the locals who frequent it, Castlewood Canyon State Park is not really well known, even though it is located a mere 15 minutes south of Mainstreet in Parker. The park is open year-round from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. However, because of the easy access and paved walkway, the Canyon View Nature Trail can be a little on the busy side on weekends. A State Parks Pass or daily fee is required to enter the park.