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.


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.

Return to Home Page

SaleBestseller No. 1
Soda Glove - Ankle Boot w/Lug Sole Elastic Gore and Chunky Heel (7.5, Black (PU))
  • Latest Fashion and Trend for Stylish, Sporty & Sexy look
  • Imitation Suede / Man Made Leather
  • Both side Elastic Gore for easy in and out of the boot
  • Combat Boot with Lug Sole Platform and Chunky Heel 3.5 inches
Bestseller No. 2
ARIAT mens Groundbreaker Square Toe Work Boot, Brown, 13 US
  • WORKS AS HARD AS YOU DO: The Groundbreaker by Ariat are made for the long haul: strong, sturdy and styled with western detailing. The supportive cushioning, extra metatarsal protection and stability technology make them ideal for construction, warehouse, factory or farm work.
  • THE SUPPORT YOU NEED: The Duratread outsole is both oil and slip resistant and the 90-degree heel gives you added support. Built for the hard-working man, these work boots provide maximum support and traction on any terrain without sacrificing comfort.
  • EVERYDAY COMFORT: Along with the 4LR (Four Layer Rebound) technology for added comfort, these men's work boots also feature a mesh lining for added air flow and comfort and a 90-degree heel for extra stability. The extra comfort insole with 4LR technology has maximum cushioning with a higher rebound for added support.
  • GREAT GIFTS: Shopping for your husband or boyfriend shouldn't be difficult, and with these durable work boots for men from Ariat, it won't be. Perfect for any task, indoors or out, the hard-working man can wear these comfortable boots all day long.
SaleBestseller No. 3
DREAM PAIRS Women's BLVD Black Pu Knee High Pull On Fall Weather Boots Wide Calf Size 9 M US
  • Rubber TPR outsole, Faux fur lining
  • Heel Height: 0.5", Platform Measures: 0.15"(approx), Shaft Height: 17.5"(approx)
  • Classic slouchy boot, and instep zipper for easy on/off
  • Top opening circumference: 16.5"(wide-calf) (approx measurement based on Women's 7 US, vary by size)
  • Lightly padded faux fur lining and insole
SaleBestseller No. 4
Timberland White Ledge Men's Waterproof Boot,Dark Brown,9.5 M US
  • Our White Ledge Men's Hiking Boots have premium full-grain waterproof leather uppers, seam-sealed waterproof construction, and rustproof speed lace hardware with hooks at top for secure lacing
  • LOOK NO FURTHER for trail-ready performance and style. Our selection of men’s hiking boots, waterproof hiking boots, casual boots, and casual shoes is designed to fit in with your outdoor-ready ensembles
  • TIMBERLAND HAS YOU COVERED whether you're looking for men's boots, women's boots, or kids boots. For the best in hiking boots, rain boots, work boots, casual shoes & boots & more, choose Timberland
  • WHAT YOU NEED IN THE OUTDOORS: Timberland has the gear you need for all your outdoor adventures, including jackets and coats for outdoor activities, backpacks and luggage & outdoor accessories
Bestseller No. 5
Sorel Toddler Snow Commander Boot for Rain and Snow - Waterproof - Black, Charcoal - Size 7
  • Toddler Snow Boots: Easy on and easy off boots for your toddler to enjoy rain and snow all day
  • Resilient: Made of PU-backed synthetic textile upper and fleece lining to keep feet dry
  • Full Traction: Injection molded waterproof thermal rubber shell with multi-directional lug outsole
  • Midsole Design: Features 2.5 mm bonded felt frost plug
  • Comfortable: The heel height of 1 1/2 inches and 1-inch platform provide all-day wear

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.



Leave a Comment