|Elevation Gain||358 ft|
|My TIme||1 hr 19 min|
|Food Nearby||Waterton Tavern|
Fountain Valley Loop at Roxborough
Roxborough State Park, near Littleton, is a park with activities available for all ages and skill levels. The park features some amazing red rocks which are all on full display while hiking on the Fountain Valley Loop. An important note is that pets are not allowed at Roxborough.
To hike the Fountain Valley Loop it is best to start at the parking lot before the round-about at the visitors center. From the visitors center you will take the wide road leading towards the north. For those of you looking for a quick trip and some good views you are in luck. The Fountain Valley Overlook is only a third of a mile down the trail.
The view from the first overlook was pretty stunning on this winter day. Looking to the north was a series of red rock slates standing tall in front of the rest of the snow covered front range of Colorado. It was really beautiful and a great view for being so close to the visitor center.
After the Fountain Valley Overlook it is just another tenth of mile until the loop begins. You will have the option of heading counter-clockwise (right or east) or clockwise (left or west) for the loop. To the right is Lyons Overlook and to the left is red rock valley so it is up to you. I went to the right so that is how I will explain the hike.
Heading to the right takes you down a long wide trail that is exposed to the open air. On this day it was also very icy and snowy so make sure to check trail conditions. Microspikes and poles may be helpful.
The loop continues for about a third of a mile to the Lyons Overlook. The wide sections of the trail make it easy to follow and manage. This side of the loop also has a gentle downward slope. It also has some nice big views of the park and surrounding prairie.
Jutting off from the main trail is the Lyons Overlook. The trail to get to the overlook is about a tenth of a mile that winds up a hill a bit and has a moderate to easy incline. The top of the hill has a bench but that isn’t the actual overlook. For the overlook you will want to head back to the south a bit to the fenced in area.
The views from the Lyons Overlook give a really nice view of the wall of red rocks that were so apparent from the first overlook. There is about a 180 degree view of the valley beneath you from here and is really enjoyable.
I do have to point out this one rock formation. I was struggling on the icy and slushy trail and was getting a little frustrated on what should have been an easy hike. Then I saw the above rock formation that in my mind looked like a fist holding up a middle finger and I actually laughed out loud. It was like the weather and park were trying to tell me something! I will let you judge what you think it looks like.
Continuing north down the main trail for a half mile will take you to the turning point of the loop. The trail continues sloping downhill from this direction making for a pretty easy walk. At the apex there sit a couple of buildings that have been there since the early 1900’s.
The first cabin I saw was this brick main house that was built around 1902 as part of Henry Persse’s goal of turning the area into a resort. This house is dubbed Persse’s Place. According to the sign there were several building built in the area as part of the resort plan that never worked out. The only buildings still standing (that I saw) was these wood ones that looked like an old barn or storehouse.
See, you come for the hikes and leave with some history!
The Valley of Red Rock
After the cabins it is time to take the return portion of the loop. This takes you back up through the floor of the valley that you could see from above at the Lyons Overlook. I don’t know if it is called the Valley of Red Rock but I think it’s catchy so I am going to stick with it.
Walking up the valley is really pretty. You have rock walls on either side of you for most of the return hike. Seeing them from this lower perspective really shows just how large each formation is.
This portion of the hike has a slight uphill grade to make up for the elevation lost on the first part of the hike. It is really gradual and should be fine for most hikers. The return trail meanders a bit through the valley floor for just under a mile before returning back to the original loop section.
Once you return to the original loop junction it is a quick trek back to the visitor center for the end a nice little loop with some really big views! I should note that during good weather this would be an easy hike. The bad trail conditions of snow, ice, slush and mud made it a challenge though. Make sure you always check trail conditions before heading out and have traction devices for the bad days.
Distance and Elevation
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 2.82 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 358 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 6,287 feet. I was also moving for a total of 1 hours and 19 minutes.
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While this is usually an easy hike the terrain led to it being a little more challenging on a winter day. The mix of snow/ice/mud/slush on the trail made each step more deliberate and challenging to make sure I kept good footing. On a normal day I would expect this to be a really easy trail with just a little bit of incline depending on if you go to the overlooks for not.
Typically the terrain for this trail is a wide, well manicured dirt trail that is easy to handle. The day that I hiked it, the trail was muddy and icy which made it more challenging. One big warning is that the Fountain Valley Loop, like most of Roxborough State Park, are very exposed. There isn’t really any shade so make sure you are prepared with sunscreen and the elements.
Roxborough State park is part of the State Park system and requires either a $9 day pass or a yearly pass from the park system. It is located on Roxborough drive in Littleton, Colorado. There are restrooms and a parking lot near the visitor center.
Wrapping up Roxborough State Park Fountain Valley Loop
The Fountain Valley Loop at Roxborough State Park was a really enjoyable trail for me. It was too challenging other than the trail conditions. It also had amazing views and nice little touch of history. I think on good weather/trail condition days this would be a great hike for families or those just getting started out.
Make sure you are prepared for the elements as there is little to no shade on the hike so you will want to make sure to protect from the sun and wind.
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