Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Mt. Falcon EAST Entrance, Morrison Colorado

The East Entrance of Mt. Falcon Park is south of Morrison, and it's a close hike in proximity to the city, with incredible city and mountain views.
Mount Falcon Park East is located South of Morrison on Highway 8. Driving west through the town of Morrison, turn left or South on Highway 8; next go .8 of a mile to Forest Ave. This is an easy road to miss, if you go more than 1 mile after turning on Hwy 8, you have gone too far.
Shortly after turning on Forest Avenue, you make a right or North turn onto Vine St. This dead ends into the park.

One of the main trails in the park is the Castle Trail, which used to be a narrow road that once carried Stanley Steamer automobiles in the 1800s. The Castle Trail starts at the East entrance of the park and provides hikers, mountain bikers and horseback riders access all the way up the mountain to the Mr. Falcon Park West Access (which can be reached via 285 and Parmalee Gulch Road). There are also picnic tables for those who just want to enjoy a picnic in the area with great views!

The Castle trail starts by winding through gullies and plains then starts up Mt. Falcon with a pretty steep incline. This hike always has me breathing hard right from the start; and you can stop to catch your breath and enjoy the scenery. Hiking here you have views of Red Rocks Amphitheater to the North, the Denver skyline to the east and on a clear day you can see all the way out to the airport. Looking South, you can see the foothills that make up the ridge to the west of C-470 (as noted in another hike I did here here), and looking West you see Mt. Falcon in front of you.

After hiking the Castle Trail for 1.3 miles you reach a plateau in the mountain and a trail sign that points you farther up the mountain on Castle Trail or down the mountain 1.7 miles back to the parking lot on the Turkey Trot Trail. The Turkey Trot Trail is a hiker only trail, which provides great views to the west and north for the hiker. The 3 mile loop is a great loop for an evening hike after work, or a short weekend jaunt as it takes less than 2 hours to complete. Typically this is my normal route when hiking here, however today I continued up the mountain on the Castle Trail.
The trail is not as steep once the trail sing is reached, and the plateau provides you with 365 degree views! The trail continues to provide great views of the Quarry to the South and the bigger mountains to the west as you hike Castle Trail further up the mountain. After hiking 1.2 miles you will reach another trail split; you can continue farther up Castle Trail, or take one of two other trails, both which lead to dead ends and view points. The path to the left is called Two Dog Trail and it takes you a short distance of .3 miles out to a viewpoint. If you take the path to the right called Walkers Dream Trail it takes you to the site of the Summer White House. It was constructed by John Walker who lived in a huge house on Mt. Falcon which he constructed, he was constructing a summer White House on the 4,000 acres of land he owned here. Unfortunately, his home burned in the 1900s and the ruins are all that is left of his mansion, which you can view on another trail in West Mount Falcon.
After checking out the incredible views at both view points, I started back down the mountain. The hike is pretty steep going back down, and my legs were still feeling a little tired from our 14er the weekend before. I took my time and checked out the beautiful scenery as I walked, what a beautiful day and a great hike!

Jefferson County Open Space Link to park(s) HERE.

Park Quick Facts: (rated 1 - 3) To see the Criteria click here
Difficulty - (2.5)
for difficult footing and terrain
Crowded (2) - This trail-head parking lot is usually full with hikers and mountain bikers on the weekends, even on weekdays it gets a good amount of use.
Amount of Trails (3)- Mount Falcon Park has over 9 miles of trails, many of which lead out to viewpoints or ruins.
Length of time - The 3 mile loop I discussed above can be done in 1.5 hours, however, climbing farther up the mountain as I did took over 3 hours.
For the dog lover - This is a busy trail and there are many rangers here, there is also no water here.
Bathrooms? Both the east and west access of this trail have nice bathrooms and picnic tables.

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