Sunday, October 4, 2009

Centennial Cone Park, Jefferson County Open Space, Colorado

Park History
The Centennial Cone Park is north of Clear Creek Canyon and it sits on top of the foothills outside of Golden Gate Canyon. It was acquired by voter approval in 1999 to be preserved as Open Space land. The park is created to sustain the elk and mountain lion habitat in the area. You will see many old ranches and homesteads throughout the property which were purchased to preserve the land in the 90's. Now this park has over 3,000 acres of land and is one of the largest Open Space Parks in the Jefferson County System.

Getting There
There are two parking lots and separate entrances into this large park; a west entrance and a north entrance. The North Entrance permits horse trailers; to get to the North entrance take highway 93 from Golden North to Golden Gate Canyon Road. Go West or Left onto Golden Gate Canyon Road and travel up the canyon about 8 miles to Robinson Hill Road; make a left onto Robinson Hill Road, this turn is marked by an Open Space Sign. Take Robinson Hill Road for
about 1-1.5 miles until you get to an intersection, stay left (its more like straight) and follow Camino Perdido Road for another approx 1 mile to the park. You can immediately tell how beautiful this park is going to be once you reach the Robinson and Camino Perdido intersection; the plateau at the top of the mountains shows an expansive field of rolling hills and views for miles of the big peaks to the west! To reach the West entrance, take highway 6 from Golden about 11 miles West into the Canyon, turn right or west onto highway 119, and travel only a half mile to Douglas Mountain Road. Turn right onto Douglas Mountain Road and travel about one mile to Centennial Cone Road which is the West entrance to the park. Click Here for a MAP.

The Park

The Centennial Cone Park North Entrance is open to hikers, bikers and equestrian riding. The west entrance offers both the hiking and biking, but no horse trailers are allowed. This park is different from other parks because the weekends have an alternating hiking and biking schedule. Click here for 2009 schedule. Horseback riding is allowed every weekend, and also all three activities are permitted during the week. If you do happen to go to the park on the "off" weekend for your chosen sport, you can visit two other beautiful parks in the area, information on which is on the signs at the Park.
This park for the most part has one huge loop of a trail (though, there are some smaller off-shoot trails, click on photo to right for bigger map) due to it's large size, the trail surrounds mount Centennial Cone which tops around 8,679 feet. There is little shade here, and the park in the fall has a glowing golden tint, as all the grasses are changing color. Be sure to bring enough water and food, as well as other survival items to this back-country Open Space; I always bring a cell phone and I think it's necessary here.
You will find lots of wildlife in this park, while I was there I saw a rattlesnake, it is also a habitat for elk, deer, mountain lion and bear.
The Trail
The trail is a large and wide two track trail for the most part, and it allows for hikers, bikers and
riders to share the trail. There is a circular path around the entire Open Space and the trails can be reached from both the North and West parking lots. From both parking lots you can take one of two trails which leave from the parking lot; Elk Range Trail which spans 3.5+ miles on the east side of the park and Travois Trail which is approximately 8.5 miles long. These two trails create a huge circle around the park which is great for a long mountain bike or horseback ride. It does make for a very long hike however. From the west entrance of the park there is another off-shoot set of trails which are great for the hiker. Set off from the parking lot down Mayhem Gulch trail which spans about 2.7 miles, and you can do a short loop making this about a 5 mile hike with a loop in the middle. This is great for a shorter hike with some beautiful mountain views! Overall Centennial Cone Park is truly a jewel in the Jefferson County Open Space system, it is worth the longer drive into the mountains!
To find out more information go to the Jefferson County website here.

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