Eldorado Canyon State Park
Eldorado Canyon State Park is located close to Boulder, Colorado, and is easily accessible from Denver as well. The park is small, but it’s a favorite with hikers and climbers alike.
South Boulder Creek runs in the middle of the park and provides a relaxing background noise for those hiking, climbing or having a picnic in the park. Eldorado is less visited than the neighboring Boulder City parks, but in the weekends it gets very crowded because families come to picnic along the creek. Parking can be difficult so the best option is to visit during the week.
There are only four trails in the park and so far, we have hiked two of them, The Rattlesnake Gulch Trail and the Eldorado Canyon Trail, both considered moderately difficult trails that gain quickly in elevation.
Rattlesnake Gulch Trail is 3 miles long (total) and it is true to its name. We hiked it during fall last year and I nearly stepped on a snake sunning on the trail like a twig. I always thought it was impossible to catch a snake by surprise, but by the way both of us jumped and quickly got away from each other, I would say the snake was as shocked as I was. Nevertheless, the trail is still worth a hike, as it provides a great view over the Continental Divide, the mountain range that divides East and West of the Americas. On this range, when it rains, water either eventually flows to the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans.
Eldorado Canyon Trail is a tougher and longer trail, 7 miles total if you stay inside Eldorado Canyon State Park. The trail ties in to the Walker Ranch Loop Trail which can add another 15 miles (total) to the hike. The trail is a beautiful collection of switchbacks steadily gaining 1,000ft in elevation that sometimes requires mild bouldering. It provides a great cardio workout, but it can be tougher on the knees. It’s hard to make sense of what 1,000ft in elevation feels like if you never done it, so here is an example. If you were going up a building with floors 10ft tall, you would be hiking up 100 floors! Somehow hiking 1000 ft in elevation doesn’t feel as hard as climbing all those floors, that is why we keep going back time and time again.
If you are into climbing, Eldorado Canyon Trail is also the gateway to a couple popular climbing locations.
And if you are into trains, the Amtrak runs through the mountains around it and can be seen from the trail.
For more information on Eldorado Canyon State Park and a trail map click here.
Happy trails, xplorers!