Hiking Trails in Colorado | Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space Trail

Trail Information

Trail Name: Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space TrailHiking Trails in Colorado | Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space Trail

Location: Near Larkspur, Colorado

Date: December 25, 2019

Time at the Trail Head: 2:00 pm

Trail Length: 4.6 miles

Elevation Gain: 374 feet

Elev. at Trail Head: 6,828 feet

# of Hikers Passed: 11

# of Mnt. Bikers Passed: 0

# of Horses Passed: 3

Mosquitoes: 0

Trail Research

I started this day out planning on going to the Devil’s Head Lookout trail but the access roads have been closed for the winter, so after being stopped by gates twice, I decided to head to a different trail.

Devil's Head Lookout Trail | Road Closed

Some friends had recommended the Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space trail, and since it is near my house, I thought I would try it out as my second option, and I am sure glad I did.

Hiking Trails in Colorado | Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space Trail

Drive to the Trail

The road to trail is one of my favorite to take in this area. It is Perry Park Road or Colorado State Highway 105. It is a wonderful drive from Sedalia to Palmer Lake, Colorado. It’s a nice relaxing drive situated at the base of the Rocky Mountains and the road winds through ranch land, homes and pine tree forests.

Drive to Dawson's Butte Ranch Open Space Trail

This is an area that my wife and I are seriously considering moving to in the near future.

Drive to Dawson's Butte Ranch Open Space Trail

My Day on the Trail

The trailhead parking lot is large and has two parking lots, one for cars and the other for horse trailers. There are also bathroom facilities at the trailhead.

Dawson's Butte Ranch Open Space Trailhead

It’s obvious that a lot of people use this trail to ride their horses, due to all the horse tracks that were visible. The horses tend to make the trail more muddy but probably 90% of the trail was dry and great to hike on.

I hiked the trail counter clockwise but I would recommend hiking it clockwise because, if you go left on the trail at the trailhead, you will hike alongside a road for a good mile and a half and this part of the trail has more snow, ice and mud then the remainder of the trail. I like to leave the best for last so remember to hike this one clockwise.

On north section of the trail, you will see some great views of Dawson’s Butte and also have some nice views of open fields with forests in the background with the foothills of the Rockies beyond that. The trail is muddy in some location so make sure you wear some waterproof boots, as this will make your hike much more enjoyable. I say this because my wife does not have waterproof boots yet and she hates going on trails like this as she has to walk carefully around a lot of areas, which makes here a little irritated.

Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space Trail | Pasture & Mountains

Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space Trail | Dawson's Butte

Once you get to the northwest and west sections of the trail, you will enter some gorgeous pine tree forests. You won’t have many views of the mountains but the views in this forest are spectacular.

Dawson Butte Forest

One of the reasons I like this forest so much is that the trees aren’t extremely close together and there is not a lot of brush on the forest floor, so you can actually walk on the bed of pine needles below the pine trees and not worry about being on the trail the entire time.

Dawson Butte Forest

Some of you may not think this would be a great scenic area but I challenge you to take your time and stop at different locations to see if the forest beauty rubs off on you. I think you will grow to love how relaxing and comfortable this forest makes you. There are even some benches and picnic tables to stop and have some lunch, if you feel up to it.

Dawson Butte Forest | Picnic Bench

Also, there is hardly any areas that are muddy and snow covered or hard to pass due to horse tracks (muddy tracks due to the horses) which makes this an extremely enjoyable hike.

Dawson Butte Forest

There were several times on this hike when there were no mountain views, but I had to stop and take in the beauty of this Colorado forest. There are so many trails I have taken where the forest is thick and you can’t see much of anything while walking in it, but that was not the case in this forest.

I probably spent an extra hour taking my time to wander slowly underneath the pine tree canopy. I walked off the trail several times to meander around the trees and over the beds of pine needle.

Dawson Butte Forest

There is only 374 feet of elevation change on this trail so it is essentially flat, even though folks that are not use to hiking at 6,000 feet may find they get winded a little as they hike up the trail.

The trailhead is actually the high point on trail so you have to hike down in elevation, no matter which way you go. The trail is 4.6 miles long, so give your self enough time to make the hike, plus be able to stop and enjoy the scenery without having hike quickly to get back to your vehicle.

I took more time on the trail to relax and enjoy the forest, plus to take pictures and videos, so the sun set on me before reaching my truck, but that also gave me a few nice photos of the setting sun over the Rocky Mountains.

Dawson Butte Trail Sunset

Trail Recommendations

This is another one of those trails that I ended up loving, after I assumed it wouldn’t be that impressive. It’s great that there are so many trails with a variety of scenery here in Colorado that there is a trail for everyone.

I did not need my ICETrekkers on this trail but having a great pair of waterproof boots is essential and my Leki trekking poles helped me a lot as I as hiking quickly at the end, up hill, to the parking lot. I wear the Oboz Bridger Mid B-Dry Waterproof hiking boots.

LEKI Micro Vario Carbon Trekking Pole Pair - 110-130 Blue
  • Exclusive AERGON grip features a hollow core construction to save weight and create an edgeless, rounded grip for comfortable gripping at all angles especially for "palming" on steeper terrain. Thermo foam grip material for extra comfort, light weight and insulation in colder weather. Built in 8deg Positive Angle in LEKI grips keeps wrist in neutral position and provides more efficient pole plants.
  • Air-textured "no bulk" security strap maintains design dimensions of grip; efficient wicking and fast drying; adjusts and secures strap adjustment without buckles. Extended foam grip for traversing and climbing. SPEEDLOCK 2 lever locking mechanism is simply THE strongest external locking system in the world as rated by TUV, and the only locking systems to meet the minimum holding force recommended by TUV.
  • 100% High Modulus Carbon shaft sections for reliable, lightweight performance in all conditions. PE coated, Kevlar reinforced tension cord for long term reliability. ELD (External Locking Device) gives easy access to release the assembly tension of the pole for quick knock down and packing. Maximum tension between shaft sections made possible by internal (serviceable) spring in lower shaft.
  • Carbon section ends are protected by machined Aluminum sleeves for extra long wear. Machined Aluminum connectors help to center shaft sections for quick, snag free assembly. LEKI's original Carbide Flextips provide secure hold on all terrain and surfaces for years of adventure; easily replaced in the field.
  • Interchangeable basket system allows a variety of different sized LEKI baskets to be easily screwed on/off for different seasons/uses thanks to offset threads that keep the baskets securely in place.
Oboz Bridger Mid B-DRY Hiking Boot - Men's Sudan 12
  • O FIT Insole: Our proprietary insole is what we're known for. Molded to match the specific shape and construction of every pair we make, this purpose-designed technology delivers the kind of fit, feel and performance that's unmatched in the industry.
  • UPPER: Designed with the trail in mind, this nubuck full leather upper screams durability and protection. Featuring a molded rubber toe cap that protects your toes from trail debris and a heel counter that helps maintain a snug, Comfort heel hold over time.
  • GRANITE PEAK MIDSOLE: Great for day hiking but burly enough for a multi-day backpacking trip. Featuring a TPU Chassis boosts stability and prevents stone bruising without inhibiting flex. Single-density EVA provides cushioning and comfort.
  • GRANITE PEAK OUTSOLE: Our quintessential hiking outsole built to be supportive and protective. If you're tired of feeling rocks and roots underfoot look no further.
  • B-DRY Waterproof/Breathable: There's no denying feet sweat and trails can get muddy. There's also no denying the ability of our proprietary waterproofing system, B-DRY, lets sweat escape while keeping moisture out.


Check out this short video of the Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space Trail on YouTube.

I would love to know if you have had any experience on this trail or have other trails you love to hike. Leave a Comment Below or send me an Email.

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Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space Trail


Scenic Drive




Mountain Views


Lake or Stream Views


Well Maintained Trails



  • Easy Access
  • Beautiful Meadow & Mountain Views
  • Gorgeous Pine Tree Forest
  • Easy to Hike


  • A Little Muddy from the Horses
  • No Spectacular Mountain Views
  • No Creeks or Lakes

14 thoughts on “Hiking Trails in Colorado | Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space Trail”

  1. It’s been a while since I went hiking and I can see from this article that the Dawson Butte Ranch have some interesting features and very inviting to try out. From the pictures above, I really like the way the trees are apart and the scanty brush on the forest floor even some variety of scenery it brings like the gorgeous pine tree forests.

    This would be great to try out with my girlfriend, and I will take your advice of having a waterproof boots. Thank you for this informative article.

    • Hi Kell,

      I hike a lot here in Colorado and once in a while, you find a completely dry trail but in the winter, even when it hasn’t snowed in about 2 weeks, the snow will continue to melt and create muddy areas along the trail. You can get away without waterproof boots, however, it is much more relaxing and fun to be able to walk through some mud and water without having to tip toe around those areas.

      Also, having trekking poles helps steady you in the muddy or icy areas and you can use your poles to place in the mud and keep you on the more dry areas on the side of the trail. I used both my waterproof boots and trekking poles to make the hike more enjoyable.


  2. Hello Rick,
    I love the layout of your content and the pros/cons genertator! Dawson Butte Ranch looks like a relaxed hike as far as scenery goes. Usually, I prefer hikes with lakes but a lot of times I enjoy hikes to enhance my cardio. I will give Dawson Butte Ranch Open Space Trail a visit the next time I come to Denver. The waterproof boots suggestion is of big help! If I would have forgotten, I’d probably catch a cold on this hike due to my running shoes getting soaked in ice-cold slush. Thanks, Rick!

    • Hi Josh. I keep telling my wife that she needs waterproof boots and she keeps insisting that here running shoes are fine, however, every time we come across snow, ice, water or mud, she starts complaining about the trail, when it’s a great trail and fun to hike when you have the proper gear.

      We recently found the right boots for her so I’m planning on having more fun on future trails, as I am hoping some of the complaining will stop.

      We’ve been married for a long time so I have to give here some grief.



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