Starting Elevation: 6604 ft
Highest Elevation: 6653 Ft ( there is some up and down overall I think we climbed maybe 400 ft total)
Trail Length: 4 Miles from the trailhead but we had to park a mile away so we hiked 6 miles total.
Trail Uses: Hiker Only
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Fees: $7 a day
Bathrooms: There are bathrooms at the visitor center and some of the parking lots.
Pets: Dogs are allowed in the park on leash but on this particular trail NO dogs at all are allowed because of the fragile ecology of the trail.
The best part of a 3 day weekend is that it means 2 hikes over the course of the weekend is guaranteed. This was our 3rd walk of the weekend and strangely my heels had been chewed up worse than I thought on the previous 2 walks. I needed something easy and had learned that Castlewood Canyon State Park had recently re-opened the East Canyon Hike it was rated as easy as well as one of the longer hikes in the Park. I think everyone in Colorado decided Castlewood Canyon State Park was the place to go on Memorial Day, when we drove into the park the first 2 parking lots were full so we drove on to the 3rd one which was huge but filling up fast. Besides the droves of people getting some good outdoor activity in, we were now a mile away from the trail I wanted to hit.
I am going to be honest, putting on shoes was tough with my blisters… walking on pavement was even harder. The mile to the trailhead wasn’t too bad but I was trying to ignore how bad my feet were hurting, so far so good….
The best place to park for this hike is the very first parking lot upon entry into the park from Route 83. We actually walked right past this sign but when we saw a park volunteer he told us to go off the pavement and look for cairns these would take us through the path.
This hike turned into a treasure hunt at this point, as the majority of the trail was over huge boulders so we were just looking for cairns the whole time. I have to tell you it was pretty fun, the geology of this place was totally different then what we were used to and so beautiful! I have done other trails in this State Park but this one is so much fun! I mean like I wish I had some kids with me fun. After cairn hunting for a short period the trail goes under Route 83.
Then back to the treasure hunt. Slowly we made our way down into the canyon where we hit water – slowly not because the treasure hunt was hard but because my heels were in really terrible shape already.
After this low point we started climbing again but not very much, we turned a corner and there were these awesome pools with some fun rock jumping…..again perfect for kids.
It is not far from here that we hit the 1.14 mile loop and all we could talk about was who kids could we take here?
The loop itself was unremarkable and strangely empty of much traffic. We did get some amazing views of Pikes Peak and all of the front range, plus there were lots of flowers, lizards and an array of butterflies. That doesn’t even cover all the birds we saw.
All in all it was a fun trail, perfect for a short easy hike when your feet are in trouble. I think it would be a great place to take kids for a million reasons but mostly because the whole time I was thinking I would have loved this as a kid. As an adult it was beautiful and fun, bringing me back to those days when I would explore the creek behind a school as a kid. It is really exposed and so meant more for spring, fall or winter, I would never do this one in the summer unless it was the end of the day or the very beginning.
In the end I had to take off my shoes and walk in my socks the blisters were so bad but I pushed it to the paved part and as close to the parking lot as I could. I hate blisters and really I am not sure how I got back here but it was a bad place to be after years of hiking every weekend. We did the whole 6 miles in just 2 hours which is right for easy and had my feet been in better condition we would have moved faster.
This State Park is really beautiful, not just because of the canyon but because of the endless views, beautiful flowers, adventurous trails and fun discovery. I may not come out here often as I am currently addicted to summit views, but I will for sure brings lots of friends and families here because it is FUN!
Directions: To reach the main entrance of Castlewood Canyon State Park, take I-25 to Castle Rock, exit onto Founders Parkway eastbound. Take Founders Parkway to Hwy 86, go east on Hwy 86 four miles to Franktown. Turn South on Hwy 83 (S. Parker Rd) and go five miles south to the main park entrance.