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Fountain Valley Trail Hike

Roxborough State Park

Denver Metro Area, Colorado

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Fountain Valley Trail Hike

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  • Fountain Valley Trail, Roxborough State Park.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
  • Curl-leaf mountain mahogany (Cercocarpus montanus) along the Fountain Valley Trail.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
  • Lyons Overlook, Fountain Valley.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
  • Red sandstone of Roxborough State Park from the Lyons Overlook.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
  • View north along the Fountain Valley Trail.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
  • Prairie coneflower (Ratibida columnifera) along the Fountain Valley Trail.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
  • Prickly poppy (Argemone polyanthemos) and non-native mullein (Verbascum thapsus) along the Fountain Valley Trail.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
  • Horsemint (Monarda fistulosa var. menthaefolia) along the Fountain Valley Trail.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
  • Historic homestead structures surrounding the Henry S. Persse Place.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
  • 1903-built Henry S. Persse Place.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
  • Showy milkweed (Asclepias speciosa) along the Fountain Valley Trail.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
  • Fountain Valley Trail, Roxborough State Park.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
  • Butterfly along the Fountain Valley Trail.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
  • Narrowleaf cottonwoods (Populus angustifolia) along the Fountain Valley Trail.- Fountain Valley Trail Hike
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Primary trail through Roxborough's red sandstone formation. 1903-built historic homestead. Wildlife.
Cons: 
Dogs, climbing and mountain biking prohibited.
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Region:
Denver Metro Area, CO
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
No
Net Elevation Gain: 
110.00 ft (33.53 m)
Parking Pass: 
State Park Fee
Preferable Season(s):
Spring, Summer, Fall
Total Distance: 
2.30 mi (3.70 km)
Trail type: 
Loop
Trailhead Elevation: 
6,230.00 ft (1,898.90 m)
Current Local Weather:
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Hike Description

Hike Description

Contributor

Dramatic red-orange sandstone hogbacks, spires, and monoliths slice through the foothills of the Rocky Mountains at Roxborough State Park. Meandering beneath these behemoths feels definitively prehistoric, and taking an afternoon to enjoy this 3,500-acre Colorado Natural Area promises to deliver show-stopping views year round.

If you only swing in for an afternoon or are with kids, the Fountain Valley Trail hike is an excellent middle-of-the-road choice in terms of length and difficulty compared to the other hikes within the state park. It’s even ADA accessible most of the time—when the weather is fair and the ground is dry, it’s fairly easily navigable, and it’s always very well maintained. 

This 2.3-mile loop meanders through prairie grasslands, scrub oak meadows, and evergreen forests, and it serves up an excellent sampling of both the stunning geology and the impressively varied ecology of the park. At the height of the loop sit the preserved remains of Henry S. Persse’s 1903 vision to convert what was then Washington Park into a premiere tourist destination, complete with a golf course, a well-stocked lake, quaint cottages, and a state-of-the-art electric train to transport its patrons from nearby Englewood. The second level of the house that’s built into the hill is what remains of his own private quarters—guests would dine in the kitchen below.

Several years after he set out to realize his vision, he and visiting guests were addressing the ethical implications of marring the magnificence of the landscape with human infrastructure. His guest book made it into the historical records, and one prominent and influential Denver man wrote, "A park made by Nature's hand alone—the arts of man could only mar it." Eventually, Persse’s work was put on hold, and after his death, his family sold the Colorado State Division of Parks a 500-acre swath of land that was later expanded to become the 3,500-acre park it is today.

Thanks to Persse’s family and the work of various state park organizations, the park is home to a remarkable variety of plant and animal life, and visitors can almost appreciate it for how it looked before Persse first took it over. Deer, elk, prairie dog, and rabbit are among the most common mammals to be spotted. The park is also home to over 150 species of birds, 11 species of reptiles, and elusive mammals like mountain lions, coyotes, and black bears.

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Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(11 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(43 within a 30 mile radius)

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