The Fantastic Front Range: Enjoying Trail Near the Denver Metro All Year Round

The Fantastic Front Range: Enjoying Trail Near the Denver Metro All Year Round

Deer Creek Canyon

We are going to be using our Runners Roost Race Team Members to highlight local trails you were you run, hike, and walk. Colorado is a beautiful state. We know how much it has to offer and that it can get overwhelming to always know where to go. Today’s trail review is from Rooster JoAnna Masloski who is bringing us to Deer Creek Canyon.

Location: Deer Creek, Littleton CO
Trail Length: Full use of trail (including Rattler Gulch) ~16 miles with cutoffs and turn around for about any mileage desired.
Altitude: Follow the loop suggested… all the way up and then back down (~2500 ft of gain)
Terrain Types: All Single Track!!!
Views: Hogbacks, Chatfield Reservoir, Deer Creek
Support: Please bring hydration and energy as there isn’t any water or stock areas on this route.

Start: Extended loop (start off Deer Creek Canyon Rd instead of trailhead and ascend Rattlers Gulch to standard trailhead): Just past Grizzly Dr on Deer Creek Canyon – small parking area on the left side when going west
     From Trailhead: 13388 Grizzly Dr, Littleton, CO 80127

Detailed Maps:

Who’s that Rooster?:

Dog-mom to 11 year old cocker spaniel Moby, mother to 8 year old son, Cole, author of ‘Closer to Fine’, executive in the fitness industry and very-honored-to-be-a-Rooster, JoAnna can’t do without a day or two without trails. On weekdays that means out the door in the crisp, dark morning air and weekends, time is tight but that single track is so important.

Why JoAnna loves this route:

  •  Works for that “trail time” without the travel time – within :30 min. of most areas in the Denver Metro
  • Gradual uphill (except for that “wall” section that is about ¼ of a mile)
  • Soft terrain – single track that has some rocky sections but mostly pine needle beds
  • Mostly shady with wind protection which can mean it is not as runnable from mid-Dec until March
  • Well traveled with hikers and dogs. Does have mountain bikers but haven’t ever had so many that it becomes an issue

Featured Route:

Rattler’s Gulch

In keeping with getting as much time on the trails as possible I start at Deer Creek Canyon and Rattlers Gulch “trailhead”; an extra 5 min each way to the trailhead is one less mile on the trails. In addition, very few people know about the small parking area just after Grizzly Rd so you won’t have any issue with parking spots!

  • Find the trail – To get the Grizzly Gulch trail from the parking spots, head east on Deer Creek Canyon, turn right on Grizzly Gulch and about 50 feet you will see the trail on your left side! Head up this very small single track. Do watch for rattle snakes here (and through Deer Creek) as I have seen more than a few sunning themselves on the beautiful trail.
  • About a mile up (ascend) this trail you will see shaded picnic benches and trailhead bathrooms and water fountain. Fill up here, its your only one until you loop back.

    Meadowlark Trail
  • When you are ready to take off on the next step, I suggest you take the 1.5 mile long Meadowlark Trail (hiking only). This is a gradual ascent. Don’t run so fast you forget to enjoy views on your right side as you get near the top of this trail. As you run up, know that you will get a short descent before starting the “Wall” section of the trail.
  • Right after the bridge

    Upon reaching the bridge crossing the small river you will head to the right/up (unless you want to call it a day and head back – you will have run about 5 miles)

  • As you turn right and head up the hill you will now be on the Plymouth Creek Trail (note, you are now on a shared trail for mountain bikers). This ascent is commonly known the “Wall”. Don’t worry, it is only .5 miles long. Take that time to get some fast hiking in your training log.
  • Keep your head up for the first left turn to Plymouth Mountain Trail which is 1.3 miles. This is a gradual, shaded, pine needle laid single track – enjoy it! If you want to get the whole 16 miles make sure to take the “Scenic View Trail”
  • Plymouth Mountain Trail
    Homesteader Trail

    Now you will see a trail Y in the trail, take the Homesteader Trail for 1 mile! Beautiful trail going slightly down. Don’t be fooled, after this 1 mile you will be headed back up the trail once you get back to the Plymouth Creek Trail

  • When you get back to the Plymouth Creek Trail begin to head up again (if you want to head down at this point you will get in about 11 miles – awesome job)
  • In heading up you are now on a 3 mile loop which you will head to 7,442 to complete your climb.
  • BONUS: The Golden Eagle Trail jets off the side of the Red Mesa Loop at the loops “Y” section. It’s a total of 1 mile out and back with a great view of downtown Denver at the top!
  • Back Down

    Once you have completed the Red Mesa Loop you’re headed back! Simply… enjoy the amazing descent down Plymouth Creek trail (don’t go on Homesteader or Plymouth Mountain unless you want more miles) and then turn left at the bottom of the “wall” to head back over Meadowlark, to the trailhead and back down Rattlesnake Gulch (if you don’t want to do the single track again at that point you can also take the road but be careful of drivers making fast turns)

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