Thursday, October 1, 2009

Deer Creek Canyon Park, Jefferson County, Colorado

History of the Park
In the late 1800's Deer Creek Canyon was once a homestead for John Williamson from Plymouth England; as well as a campground for Ute and Arapahoe tribes. Deer Creek Canyon was also a hideout for Jesse James and other villains with it's large scrub oak habitat, creeks and fertile grounds it was a great place to hide out. The Plymouth Creek Trail has been a passage way into the mountains since the 1900s. In 1991 Jefferson County purchased the land and named it Deer Creek Canyon Park and it became part of the Jefferson County Open Space.

Getting There
To get to the park from the metro area, take C-470 and exit at Kipling Street. Go west onto W. Ute Avenue, then west or right onto Deer Creek Canyon Road. The streets are well marked with the signature brown Open Space signs at each turn.
Follow Deer Creek Canyon Road into the canyon for a few miles, you will pass South Valley Open Space on your right (which is another good hike deserving of a blog post soon) and continue on Deer Creek Road until you see the Open Space Sign to turn LEFT onto Grizzly Drive.

Grizzly Drive will take you up the mountain through a neighborhood of huge houses and beautiful scenery! Each time we have driven up this road we have come across an animal, most recently a deer and her fawns, we have also seen coyote, fox and turkeys. Continue up Grizzly drive and turn Right into Deer Creek Canyon, you will see the sign above on your right.

The Park
As you drive into the Deer Creek parking lot you will almost always notice that it is busy! The park has over 1,881 acres of land and is open for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, it has covered picnic tables (shown below) and large bathrooms in comparison to other Parks in the area. This place is busy for one good reason, its beautiful! The park is packed with animals and incredible scenery with over 10 miles of trails to explore. Also, from the Deer Creek Parking lot you can take Rattlesnake Gulch Trail which connects Deer Creek Open space to South Valley Open Space, adding even more miles of paths between the two parks.
The park as a large scrub oak habitat which is unusual in Jefferson County and it provides food and coverage to lots of wildlife including deer, coyotes, elk, mountain lion, black bear, turkey, and many different types of birds.

The Hike
With so many miles of trails in the Park, it's hard to choose where to go in Deer Creek Canyon. From the parking lot you have three trail choices, you can take Rattlesnake Gulch Trail which continues down the mountain and crosses Deer Creek Canyon road into South Valley Park. Or you can choose one of two trails which head to the west up Plymouth Mountain: Meadowlark Trail which is 1.6 miles and for hikers only, or Plymouth Creek Trail which is the main trail for hikers, bikers, and equestrian riders. All trails here require hiking boots, not tennis shoes, due to rocks, steep uphill grade, and uneven footing. The two trails both meet up with Plymouth Creek Trail, the main trail in Deer Creek, which continues up the mountain taking you to several trail intersections, many of which lead to scenic viewpoints. To view more information on the trails in Deer Creek check out the Jefferson County Open Space site here.
Deer Creek is definitely one of the more spectacular and diverse Open Space Parks in Jefferson County, give yourself extra time to hike in this beautiful place!

Find More information regarding Deer Creek and other Jefferson County Trails here.

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