Pets allowed
Allowed
Elevation Gain
380.00 ft (115.82 m)
Trail type
Loop
Distance
5.40 mi (8.69 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.

For wide-open space filled with sky and grasslands, the Two Brands Trail in Hildebrand Ranch Park is your place. The ranch is named after Frank Hildebrand who constructed a barn and other outbuildings near Deer Creek for regular access to water for his ranch; the water being a valuable commodity in the dry territory. To prevent flooding the Hildebrands channeled the creek, which provides an important corridor of water to low-land wildlife. Today, efforts are underway to return the creek to its former meandering pattern, which encourages occasional seasonal flooding and erosion control. 

The ranch property itself is split between Denver Botanical Gardens and Jefferson Open Space. The five-mile Two Brand Trail loops through a diverse, arid landscape flavored with an "out West" vibe. This includes a small section that jigs through a human habitat; a developed neighborhood with the good fortune of easy access to the trails. The trail is primarily a pleasant single track ideal for mountain biking, running, walking, and horseback riding. Rattlesnakes, along with a number of harmless snakes such as the bull and plains black-headed snake, are commonplace, so be aware. The prairie dog town and populations of mice, voles, and other rodents make it popular hunting and nesting grounds for hawks. 

Start the loop at the Hildebrand Ranch Park parking lot. There you will see an old barn and other outbuildings, remnants of the Hildebrand Ranch. Cross the bridge over Deer Creek and follow the trail up a short distance. At this point, there are several trails and all of them are correctly marked Two Brands. It's confusing at first but most are small detours of approximately 100-200 yards. All you really need to do is decide if you want to travel clockwise or counterclockwise. Counterclockwise gives you a long sweeping singletrack trail along the downside slope, which is fun for running and biking. Start your walk, follow the signs and 5.4 miles later you'll complete your loop. 

There are some things worth noting along the trail. If you go counterclockwise, you'll be first heading uphill towards the hogsback; the foothills to the Rocky Mountains. The trail arcs to the left and follows these hills high enough to for a fantastic vantage point of Chatfield Lake (a reservoir), swaths of prairie, and downtown Denver with its massive sprawl in the distance. Oddly enough, the only place that can cause some wayfinding confusion is in the neighborhood.  Look for the Two Brand Trail signs. If in doubt, make your way over to the soccer field because the trail runs adjacent to it. The last portion of the trail has a shelter, which is a nice place for some water. The final mile is home to a large prairie dog town. Expect to be chirped at by the town's residents warning others of intruders (you). 

The sun can be relentless during summer so bring water. In autumn, the open grasslands, shrubs, and scrubby trees are surprisingly colorful with seasonal hues and textures. The summer heat loses its grip making for a more comfortable hike. Catch it on a crisp day and you'll be treated to beautiful walk. 

 

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Logistics + Planning

Preferable season(s)

Fall
Spring
Winter

Congestion

High

Parking Pass

None

Open Year-round

Yes

Pros

Sweeping views. Easily accessible. Spacious plains. Prairie wildlife.

Cons

Hot and dry during late summer/early fall. Rattlesnakes.

Trailhead Elevation

5,540.00 ft (1,688.59 m)

Highest point

5,810.00 ft (1,770.89 m)

Features

Vault toilet
Wildlife
Big vistas
Bird watching

Typically multi-day

No

Suitable for

Biking
Horseback

Permit required

No

Location

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