Eldorado Canyon State Park: Continental Divide Overlook via Rattlesnake Gulch

Distance4.5 mi
Elevation Gain1125 feet
My Time2 hr 11 min
DifficultyModerate
Closest Town Eldorado Springs
Food Nearby Waynes Smoke Shack

Eldorado Canyon State Park is a nice place to enjoy a climb, a hike or just to sit by the river and have a picnic. The hike to the Continental Divide Overlook has beautiful views of rock faces, trees and wildflowers.

Fowler to Rattlesnake Gulch

The loop that I took starts off on the Fowler trail before connecting with Rattlesnake Gulch trail. The Fowler trailhead is located about halfway through the park between the fee station and the visitor center. There is room for a few cars at the trailhead but most likely you will need to walk a bit after finding a spot to park.

The Fowler trail is in really nice shape. It is a hard packed dirt path and is listed as wheelchair accesable for a good portion. About .2 miles down Fowler you will turn to Rattlesnake Gulch. This new trail is a bit more rocky and starts a pretty constant elevation that sticks with you the rest of the hike.

Rattlesnake will take you for about another mile and a half before you reach the Crags hotel ruins with mostly gentle uphill but it can reach up to a 25% grade so be aware. I had to take a few breaks but the views were worth the break.

The view of a rocky ridge from Rattlesnake Gulch trail.

Crags Hotel Ruins

I’m not going to lie, this was a little disappointing to me. There is an informational sign explaining what the hotel was but as you walk towards the ruins there really isn’t that much there. The bottom bowl of the large fountain remains and a few exterior walls portions.

The most recognizable piece of the ruins was a large fireplace. The hotel was burnt down by a fire 4 years after it opened so I guess it makes sense that not much is left.

The remains of the fireplace from the Crags Hotel.

The Overlook trail

After the hotel you have the option of two trails. They really combine into one large loop so you can go either way. The options are the Overlook and the Rattlesnake loop. I took the Overlook trail and headed down the trail another .2 miles to another small junction. If you continue to go straight at this point you will end at a small are with two benches and some amazing views, even when they are obscured by wildfire smoke.

The views from the overlook point.  Smoke obsucres it a little but it shows both sides of the canyon with trees in the foregroung.

Returning to the junction you go up the hill and follow the loop all the way around and back to the Crags hotel site, just over a mile. The trail is pretty easy for the first half but as you start your descent down the south and east sides of the loop the trail is mostly loose rock and gets a little tough.

About a tenth of a mile from the overlook there is a trail that leads up the hill towards the top. From the top if you head north you come to a rocky outcrop that is pretty cool. Their is another trail to the south as well and I took it for a bit but it didn’t seem to go anywhere different than the lower trail so backtracked to the main.

The rocky outcrop from the top of the  Overlook trail

Distance and Elevation

Depending on where you park you may have different mileages and elevation gains for this hike. If you don’t have the AllTrails app you might want to check it out, I really love mine. It records your progress and is a great way to search for hikes that are nearby and gives you difficulty measurements. According to AllTrails today’s hike was around 4.5 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 1125 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 7,077 feet. I was also moving for a total of 2 hours and 11 minutes.

Effort

With a well developed trail and consistent elevation gain the effort was predictable on this one. Here is my total step count for the hike from my Fitbit.

The step count from my hike according to my fitbit.  Today's hike was 13,423 steps.

Terrain

These trails at Eldorado Canyon were very well defined and easy to follow. The trail is a combination of dirt with some large rocks to some smaller rocks on the Rattlesnake loop near the top. Overall the trails are in very good shape. I would suggest a good pair of hiking shoes to deal with the rocks.

Access

Eldorado Canyon State Park is located in Eldorado Springs Colorado on Kneale Rd. It is part of the state park system and there is a $10 vehicle fee or a posession of a yearly state park pass. More information on the fees can be found here. There are several small parking lots ranging to a couple of cars to 15-20 throughout the canyon road. There are restrooms near the entrance and the picnic area about halfway through.

Wrap up

This was my first time at Eldorado Canyon State Park and I will say that I really liked it. The leaves were just starting to change colors (pictures below) and the weather was cool and it was an enjoyable hike.

The park itself seems like it has a lot more to offer for the technical climbers and I saw a lot of people in the morning with ropes headed towards the cliffs. There still is a lot to do for those of us less athletically inclined. I saw several families hiking even with small children.

The water is also really nice when you can get close to it. There is a small picnic area just past the Fowler trail head that I got to head down to and just relax for a few minutes by the water which was nice.

Me sitting by the water.

Eldorado seems a lot smaller than most of the state parks I have been to in Colorado with not much parking so that is one other thing to keep in mind if you are thinking of heading out but I really did enjoy my time there and can’t wait to get back out there!

I have added this hike and all of my hikes on my interactive map section you can find here. If you have any suggestions for hikes or any other questions or comments feel free to email me at fatmanlittletrails@gmail.com or you can follow me at any of the below social media channels. Happy Hiking!

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