Pets allowed
Allowed with Restrictions
Elevation Gain
500.00 ft (152.40 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
3.90 mi (6.28 km)
Please respect the outdoors by practicing Leave No Trace. Learn more about how to apply the principles of Leave No Trace on your next outdoor adventure here.

There are so many interesting dimensions to Genesee Park and Genesee Mountain Trail, it's difficult to capture it all. Let's start with the park itself. The largest park of Denver's expansive Mountain Park System, it's part of a series of open spaces designed to protect and preserve the open and raw beauty of the front range and give access to nature to those who live in the Denver area. The Mountain Park System's lead designers was Frederick Law Olmstead who also designed Manhattan's Central Park, the Buffalo (NY) Olmstead Park System, and Seneca Park in Rochester, NY among many others. Protecting wild, natural open spaces near urban centers was one of his specialties.

The trail takes hikers near The Patrick House, the oldest building in the Mountain Park System and is rumored to be haunted. It also follows along the notoriously busy and dramatic I-70. This may seem like a liability to the trail's natural spaces, but it serves a historic purpose. A large placard explains that originally, the Utes, a local native tribe tracked the large migratory mammals -- elk, deer and bison -- along the animals' well-established routes. Over time settlers, explorers, prospectors, and woodsmen followed these same trails. Then wagon roads, coach roads, railroads, and so on until the superhighway that is I-70 blazed its way across these original migration routes. 

There is also the bison herd (which you may or may not see). The herd is protected in a large pasture and the animals have access to a connecting tunnel to another large portion of pasture across the highway. The herd is fed, protected, and culled to maintain health. These bison are genetically pure and have not been crossed with cattle. As you walk along the trail, be sure to check out the placards for interesting details! The bison share their living space with an elk herd as well. 

The scenic 3.9 mile loop is very straight-forward. There are several trails, including a short American Bison overlook loop and the short, there-and-back Genesee Summit Trail. There are several ways to access the Genesee Mountain Trail loop. The trailhead in the well-marked parking area along South Genesee Mountain Road is less crowded than the trailhead near The Patrick House next to I-70. 

When you start the loop you need to choose your direction. Going left (clockwise) immediately puts you on serene and graceful trails that reward you with scenic overlooks of the Evergreen area and Mount Evans in the distance. The large views are surprising because the trail is fairly level and dominated by sporadic ponderosa pines and open, flowing meadows free of debris. After a mile or so, the trail meets up and follows Genesee Drive, a gravel road. This is also where the trail follows the bison enclosure. Don't expect to see them. If you do, it's a treat. Although they are enclosed and fed in the winter, these are wild animals and respect the signs by keeping your distance from the fence so as not to agitate the herd. 

After another mile or so the gravel road ends at another trailhead near The Patrick House and I-70. From there it reverts to a single track. Take care to notice the windmill that serves to pump water for the bison. The single-track winds its way gently back up to complete the loop. 

Even as a single track the trail is accommodating and ideal for hiking and mountain biking. 

Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Winter
Spring
Summer
Fall

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Flat trails. Wildlife. Rich history.

Cons

Near the highway.

Trailhead Elevation

8,000.00 ft (2,438.40 m)

Highest point

8,080.00 ft (2,462.78 m)

Features

Historically significant
Wildlife
Big Game Watching
Big vistas
Vault toilet

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Biking

Permit required

No

Location

Nearby Lodging + Camping

Comments

Have updates, photos, alerts, or just want to leave a comment?
Sign In and share them.

You May Also Enjoy

Half Moon Bay State Park, California
Half Moon Bay State Park, California