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