Friday, May 12, 2017

Mt. Falcon

Distance: 8.3 miles round trip
Elevation: 5,950 ft - 7,800 ft
Elevation Gain: 2,002 ft (cumulative)
Bathroom at Trailhead:  Yes
Dogs: On leash (Jefferson County Open Space)
Tags: #coloradooutdoors, #hiking

Looking west from the lookout a top Mt. Falcon
Mt. Falcon near Morrison, CO is unique amongst Jefferson County Open Space parks. In addition to the steep hill to climb, it has old ruins, a lookout, and several covered picnic pavilions, each with lovely views. The terrain is more common however with a typical foothills combination of grasslands, Ponderosa/Lodgepole forest, Junipers, and the occasional Mule Deer.

Map of the route
You can access the park from either the east or west.  On this trip, we started from the east just outside of Morrison itself. We took the Castle Trail upwards for 2.7 miles and 1,290 ft of elevation gain to a picnic shelter with views of Denver, then continued on for another half mile to the ruins of the Walker mansion (at 3.2 miles). At one point Walker owned all of Mt. Falcon as well as Red Rocks not to mention a chunk of Denver.  He was the one who donated land that eventually became Regis University. He also hoped to build the summer white house on the Falcon property and a short spur trail near the first picnic shelter will take you to the spot. Unfortunately, some of Walker's other ventures were not so successful and he died penniless, a 19th Century Colorado Ozymandias. The happy tourists however seemed oblivious to the fleeting nature of existence as they wandered around the bricks and empty rooms.

Typical foothills trail with a mix of dirt and rock. This would be really hot in the summer.
Looking east onto the plains
Ruins of the Walker mansion 
From the Walker ruins, the Castle Trail traverses a wide flat meadow to a large pile of boulders (at 4.2 miles) from which the Continental Divide can be seen. This is near the western trailhead and a lot of people enter the park there because it is significantly less steep.

Crossing the large meadow on the way to the western entrance
View from the boulder pile
The meadow trail towards Mt. Falcon and the lookout
From the boulder pile we took the Meadow Trail past the Eagle Eye Shelter, which looked like it could hold a Girl Scout jamboree and on to the Mt. Falcon lookout (1,738 ft gain), which is a large covered tower with views of the surrounding area. Mt. Falcon itself is covered in thick pines, so the tower contains the only views on this part of the route.

Passing the Eagle's View Shelter
Mt. Falcon Lookout
View from the lookout. That is Denver in the distance.
Almost back to the trailhead, that is Red Rocks Park. 
For varied terrain and a great workout, Mt. Falcon is a great choice. Be advised on a weekend you won't be alone on your journey but the park is large and there is lots of room to spread out.

To get to Mt. Falcon, take the Morrison exit off of E-470, travel through the town and turn left onto State Highway 8. Then turn west on Forest Avenue and north on Vine Street. Their are signs leading the way.


Donna Nuce said...

Hi Sylvia! Looks like a fun hike for old ladies like me!

sylvia murphy said...

Donna! It was surprisingly pleasing up there. You are not that much older than I am so no excuses ;)