Mount Falcon Park hiking provides all of the “must-haves” in a Front Range hike: a good climb, impressive viewpoints, pine forest, open meadows, and historical remnants. It’s just one of the many excellent parks in Jefferson County, Colorado, and one of its treasures.
The hiking experience in Mount Falcon Park includes twisty climbs, meadows, and tree-lined paths. Some trails end with views toward the Denver Metro area, while others look west to the higher peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Relics of the past are also evident throughout the park. This popular recreation area is 30 minutes from downtown Denver and less than an hour from Denver International Airport.
About Mount Falcon Park
Mount Falcon Park is one of 28 (yes, twenty-eight) parks within Jefferson County Open Space (JCOS). This 2,252-acre (911-hectare) park includes 12.2 miles (19.6 km) of trails and, of course, the 7,841 foot (2,390 m) tall Mount Falcon. Access the paths from one of two trailheads, one in Morrison and the other in Indian Hills, on opposite sides of the park. See the custom maps below for trailhead locations.
Jefferson County acquired the land around Mount Falcon in 1974 and added on in 2009. Entrepreneur John Brisben Walker owned this land in the early 1900s. Although it has had many owners since that time, the park still contains mementos and reminders of Walker’s life and aspirations. I’ll point these out in the description of individual trails below.
Each trailhead has restrooms and picnic facilities. The Castle Trail connects the two trailheads. All trails are available to hikers and mountain bikers, except the hiker-only Turkey Trot Trail near the east trailhead in Morrison.
The parking lots at the trailheads of this top-rated park are often overflowing. The Mount Falcon Park JCOS page shows real-time parking spot availability, averages by the time of day, and links to a live parking lot webcam. Parkgoers can also download the Lot Spot app for this information.
Mount Falcon Park Hiking
With a variety of trails, almost everyone can find a hike to enjoy in Mount Falcon Park. Outdoor enthusiasts looking for a vigorous workout will appreciate the Castle Trail. In contrast, those looking for flatter trails might do better with the Meadow Trail near the west trailhead. While the Castle Trail is a whole hike in itself, hikers can also combine it with many shorter trails. Or explore the shorter routes on their own. The park trails are described and shown in the custom maps below. See AllTrails for additional suggestions of route combinations.
The Castle Trail is the backbone of Mount Falcon Park. As mentioned above, it connects the east and west trailheads of the park. Note that the elevation difference between the two trailheads is over 1,900 feet (579 m). About 3.6 miles (5.8 km) long, this trail is perfect for a good workout with a climb.
Starting in Morrison at the east trailhead, the trail climbs uphill and somewhat steeply at times. Conversely, at the higher elevation west trailhead in Indian Hills, the path slopes down gently toward the meadow ahead.
Starting from the west trailhead might seem more manageable, but remember, the walk will be all uphill to return to the parking lot.
Walker’s Dream Trail
John B. Walker had a vision of a vacation home for United States Presidents at a bluff on his property near Mount Falcon. This Summer White House was modeled after a European castle with 22 rooms drawn up in architectural plans. Walker began promoting the idea in 1911, but the dream of the summer home was abandoned when efforts to raise money faltered, and Walker’s fortunes began to turn.
Today, the Walker’s Dream trail leads to what little remains of the proposed western White House. It branches from the Castle Trail next to a covered picnic shelter.
At the end of this 0.4 mile (0.6 km) trail, the original cornerstone of the Summer White House, carved from Colorado Yule marble, sits solidly on top of the ruins of a foundation wall. The spectacular views that inspired Walker are also intact.
Although the Summer White House was never built, Walker did have his own home nearby, built in 1909. Sadly, Walker’s wife died in 1916, and the home burned two years later, the result of a lightning strike.
The stone ruins of Walker’s “Castle” are at the end of the 218-foot (66-m) Ruins Trail branching from the Castle Trail. Although abandoned for over a century, many stone walls from the house are still standing.
Other Trails in Mount Falcon Park
All other routes in the park are accessible via the Castle Trail, either directly or indirectly. Here’s a rundown on the remaining trails and their features.
Turkey Trot Trail
The Turkey Trot Trail is a hiker-only trial accessible from the east trailhead. Shortly after heading out on the Castle Trail, the Turkey Trot Trail splits off, rejoining the Castle Trail after about 1.7 miles (2.7 k). Taking this route does add about 0.3 miles (0.5 km) compared to staying on the Castle Trail, but hikers will not have to worry about mountain bikes speeding by on this path.
Since the Castle Trail is an out and back route, hikers could take the Castle Trail in one direction and the Turkey Trot Trail on the other.
Two Dog Trail
The Two Dog Trail is an out-and-back trail off the Castle Trail that ends at a sweeping overlook after a short climb (0.3 miles, 0.5 km).
The Meadow Trail traverses an open space closer to the park’s west trailhead, forming a loop with the Castle Trail. The total distance is only 0.75 miles (1.2 k). Three other trails, described next, connect with the Meadow Trail.
Old Ute/Devil’s Elbow Trail
One of these trails is the Old Ute Trail, a short 0.6 mile (1 km) loop. Old Ute connects to the Devil’s Elbow Trail about halfway through. The Devil’s Elbow Trail is a one-mile (1.6 km) loop with excellent views.
The Tower Trail (0.75 miles, 1.2 km) forms a loop with the Meadow Trail and features two “can’t miss” sights. The first of these is a wooden tower structure at the top of Mount Falcon. The tower’s ample platform means multiple people can easily linger and enjoy the spectacular views in all directions.
The second viewpoint from the Tower Trail is the Eagle’s Eye Shelter. This large covered picnic area is perched over a ledge and was formerly the site of a family summer cabin. A quaint wishing well marks this spot, but be sure to take a few minutes to take in the view to the west from the shelter and its adjacent platform.
The 2.4-mile (3.9-km) Parmalee Trail connects the Castle Trail near the west trailhead to the Meadow Trail. From the Meadow Trail, it’s easy to head back to the Castle Trail intersection with the Parmalee Trail, forming a 3-mile (4.8-km) loop.
Other Information for Mount Falcon Park
To start, Mount Falcon Park has only basic amenities: restrooms and picnic shelters. There are no water sources or electricity.
Next, as mentioned above, the trailhead parking lots fill quickly at popular times. Get there early and check for parking availability before leaving home to avoid frustration and disappointment.
Third, without much shade, the Colorado sun can quickly become intense. Especially in the warmer months, consider a hat, sunglasses, appropriate clothing, and sunscreen for protection. Additionally, be sure to bring adequate amounts of water.
Fourth, reconsider a visit to the park if rain or thunderstorms are forecast since there is no natural protection from the elements.
Finally, this park is very popular with mountain bikers. Be alert to their presence and yield the trail when appropriate.
Mount Falcon Park is a self-contained trail system. No trails lead in or out of the park.
Custom Maps of Mount Falcon Park
These two hikes have the trailheads and points of interest marked.
Hiking from the East Trailhead
This hike started at the east trailhead, took the Turkey Trot Trail route to its upper intersection with the Castle Trail, then followed the Castle Trail to its junction with the Meadow Trail. The short Ruins Trail leads to the stone remains of John B. Walker’s house, destroyed by fire in 1918. After a loop around the Meadow Trail, the hike returned downhill, back to the trailhead via the Castle Trail. Total Distance: 7.7 miles (12.4 km)
Hiking from the West Trailhead
This hike started at the west trailhead and took the Castle Trail to the Walker’s Dream Trail and the proposed site of the Summer White House envisioned by John B. Walker. Backtracking on the Castle Trail, the next out-and-back detour was the Two Dog Trail. Back on the Castle Trail, the route continued to the Meadow Trail, the Old Ute Trail, and the Devil’s Elbow loop Trail. Finishing the loops and moving back to the Meadow Trail then led to the Tower Trail, featuring the wooden tower at the top of Mt. Falcon and the Eagle’s Eye shelter and overlook. The remainder of the hike was heading back to the parking lot at the west trailhead. Total distance: 6.1 miles (10.3 km)
Don’t see the maps or want to see the originals? Click here and here to go to the map pages on AllTrails.
Other Mount Falcon Park Hiking Information
|Getting There||East Trailhead: 3852 Vine Street, Morrison, CO, 80465|
West Trailhead: 21074 Mount Falcon Road, Indian Hills, CO 80454
|Distance||Total of 12.2 miles (19.6 km) of trails, with up to 2000 feet of elevation gain.|
|Difficulty||Ranges from easy to vigorous|
|Trail Type||Castle Trail: Out and back |
Turkey Trot (hiker only) and Meadow Trails: form a loop with the Castle Trail
Old Ute and Devil’s Elbow: loop trails accessible from Meadow Trail
Two Dog, Walker’s Dream, and Ruins Trails: spurs from the Castle Trail leading to overlooks or points of interest.
Parmalee Trail: forms a loop with Castle Trail and the Meadow Trail
|Trail Surface||Unpaved, natural|
|Besides Hiking:||trail running, mountain biking|
|Links||Jefferson County Open Space Park System|
JeffCo Open Space Page
Colorado Trail Explorer (COTREX) Page
AllTrails page for Mount Falcon Park
|Closest Towns||Morrison, Indian Hills|
Mount Falcon Park is one of the gems of Jefferson County’s open space. Here, get a significant climb in on the Castle Trail, meader the Meadow Trail area and find some overlooks, or contemplate John B. Walker’s legacy at the ruins sites. Whatever trail you take, something inspiring or invigorating awaits.
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Where have you hiked in Mount Falcon Park? What did you think? Leave a comment below!
Love this thorough guide of the trails to hike. I think this would be an epic spot on a US road trip!
Darla G says
Thank you! You’re right, this would be a great place to stop on a trip through Denver.
Wow I love how close to Denver you can be and still get amazing views! This looks like a great half-day trip to get some hiking in when visiting the city.
Darla G says
Carrie, it would be perfect for that!