December 7, 2014
Castlewood Canyon State Park
2989 S Hwy 83
Franktown, CO 80116
Fees: Daily Parks Pass $7, Annual Pass $70
Dogs allowed on most trails
I had heard Castlewood Canyon was pretty, but I found such a statement somewhat hard to believe given the park’s location. The canyon is nestled on the plains in the southwest suburbs of Denver, and I have to admit it is quite pretty.
There are two entrances to the park, the main entrance on the east side and the more remote entrance on the west side. I chose the less commercialized west side entrance and followed the dirt road to the parking area at the Lucas Homestead.
I love old ruins, so I found the Lucas Homestead quite interesting. Patrick and Margaret Lucas were Irish immigrants who met in Arizona and moved to Colorado in 1893 where they settled on 160 acres. The Lucases originally built a wood house and later a cement home to house their family of 10. It is unknown what exactly they did with their land as it was too steep to drive cattle or equipment. It thought they were attracted to the area due to the newly constructed dam. Beginning in the 1920’s, it is said Mr. Lucas began charging travelers twenty-five cents to cross his land to visit the dam.
I eventually made it to the dam, but I first followed the Homestead Trail to the Rimrock Trail. The Rimrock Trail led me across the creek and then up a steady climb of switch backs and stairs to the rim of the canyon. The canyon rim offered a view of the snowcapped Rocky Mountains which was lovely. As I followed the trail along the rim, scooching to the edge a few times to take a look in the canyon, I came across three deer grazing to my left. It is always a treat to spot wildlife! Amazingly I spotted three more deer toward the end of my hike and on my drive back to Denver, I passed by a herd of 15 or more pronghorn.
Soon I reached the trail’s descent and followed the path to a trail junction near the creek’s bottom where I veered to the right to check out the remnants of the old dam. The dam, which was built in the late 1800’s burst in 1933 which sent a 15 foot wave all the way to downtown Denver! That must have been a surprise.
After following the Dam Trail and checking out the historic structure, I connected to the Creek Bottom Trail to complete just over a four mile loop. The Creek Bottom Trail in many places was rather muddy from snow melt, but it did provide a great view of the icy water fall. I followed the undulating trail through the juniper until I ended at the parking area. What a nice way to get a few hours of exercise! ETB
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