|Elevation Gain||390 ft|
|My Time||1 hr 54 min|
|Closest Town||Castle Rock|
|Food Nearby||Castle Cafe|
Dawson Butte Ranch
Dawson Butte Ranch is a roughly five and a half mile long loop that should be good for all skill levels. The trail has some really enjoyable open air views of the foothills and of Dawson Butte. The park is mixed use for horses as well and I saw a few on my hike.
Dawson Butte Ranch is located on Tomah Road and has a fairly large parking area that can accommodate horse trailers and vehicles. It was a perfect hike for me as someone who is recovering from surgery and needed something a little easier.
The park is a loop so you have the choice of heading right (counter-clockwise) or left (clockwise). I went right and I think if I did it again I would have headed the other way but more on that later. The trail to the right immediately takes you through some woods but before long Dawson Butte comes into focus.
The wooded section only lasts for about the first third of a mile before you make it to an open field.
The Open Fields
Taking the first step out of the woods and the first thing to notice is the amazing views. The ranch is wide open and you can see all of the foothills in the Castle Rock area.
The open are not only gives you a good look towards the foothills but also the butte itself. Dawson Butte stands at 7474 feet, or roughly 600 feet above the trail. That plus the rocky face of the butte give it a bit of a castle wall look.
The open air area is about a half mile long stretch with the best views of the hike. It is very exposed though so make sure you are prepared for the elements.
My favorite section of the Dawson Butte trail may have been the section in the woods. After the open fields and wide views, the trail takes you under a wooded canopy of lodgepole pines. The wooded section is about a mile to mile and a half of the trail and I found it very enjoyable.
The trail through the woods has a bit of an incline and some small switch backs but for the most part it is a nice enjoyable walk. The shade is also very welcome on a warm day! There are a couple of trail junctions when you get into the woods as well but to continue the loop, stay on Dawson Butte.
The only part of the hike I didn’t really love is on the south and southeast parts of the park where the trail is right up against the road. While it isn’t a highway, it was a little busy and took me away from the relaxing nature a bit. I think if I were to redo this hike I would do it clockwise so that I did the road section first.
You aren’t walking directly on the road but you can definitely hear all the noise on this section and it is more extreme on the very southern part of the hike before you start to hike away from it. Just something to think about as you decide which way to take your hike.
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 5.41 miles and had a total elevation gain of about 390 feet including undulations. That put the high point at around 6,828 feet. I was also moving for a total of 1 hours and 54 minutes.
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The Dawson Butte Ranch trails are a very easy walk without much in the way of elevation gains. The trail is also wide and mostly easy to follow. Horses are also a common sight on the trail and I found getting out of the way of the horse was the most challenging part of the hike!
The trails at Dawson Butte are wide and well defined. They are well used and flat and easy to navigate. The trail is a mix of exposed and under a tree canopy but I would say more often it is exposed so make sure to be prepared for the weather and have some sunscreen ready.
Dawson Butte Ranch is located at 1753 Tomah Road in Castle Rock, Colorado. There are two moderate parking lots that are available. One for regular cars that fits about 20 cars and an overflow for oversized vehicles including horse trailers. Pets are allowed on leash and horses are able to use the trails as well. There were a couple of port-o-potties at the trailhead.
Wrapping up Dawson Butte Ranch
Dawson Butte was a really enjoyable and fairly easy hike. It is perfect for a day in nature that isn’t over strenuous. It is also always fun to see a horses on the trail and people just really enjoying themselves in a relaxing way. I think this would be a great hike for anyone looking to get out and explore nature without much experience in the outdoors. It is around five miles so make sure that is something you can handle!
I have added this hike and all of my hikes to my interactive map page that you can find here. If you have a suggestion or comment you can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or follow me on any of the below social media platforms. Happy Hiking!
I have somehow never heard of this trail, but it reminds me a lot of Spruce Mountain.
Very similar and close location. You don’t go up the butte like you do at Spruce Mountain. Just a loop in front that is really nice. Reminded me of Sandstone Ranch in that area as well!