Fountain Valley Loop

Roxborough State Park, Colorado

Trip Date: Friday, May 24th, 2019
Last Updated: Wednesday, November 6th, 2019
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★★(5/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 2.2 miles roundtrip
Time 1.5 hours
Terrain A few hills
Best Seasons All
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly No
Accessible No

Highlights

Hike Walkthrough

Out of all the hikes I've done on my trips to Denver, the Fountain Valley Loop in Roxborough State Park is my favorite so far. This short loop has it all: scenic overlooks, cool rock formations, and a historic homestead. Though you may struggle to wake up early enough on a weekend to snag a parking space, the effort is certainly worth the reward.

Save for the short uphill segments to the overlooks, the hardest part of the hike is the ascent from the parking lot to the start of the trail at the visitor center. Before starting your hike, you can go inside the visitor center and learn a little about the geology and wildlife present in the park as well as pick up a self-guided trail brochure for the hike. Once you're ready to go, follow the signs for the Fountain Valley Trail. The trail is immediately scenic, with sandstone formations to the south.

About a tenth of a mile from the visitor center, you'll reach a short spur trail to the Fountain Valley Overlook. A few steps up, and the trail ends at the nice view looking to the south pictured below.

One view at the Fountain Valley Overlook

One view at the Fountain Valley Overlook

Continuing on the the main trail, the scenery continues with the rocky hills and outcrops pictured below. At the fork in the trail, you can choose to go either direction on the loop, but I will describe the loop traveling counterclockwise.
Looking north towards the hills and rock formations

Looking north towards the hills and rock formations

The trail winds between two hills and starts gradually descending. On the left, you'll see another spur trail, this one leading to the more impressive Lyons Overlook. After about a third of a mile of relatively steep uphill, you'll have earned the view of jagged sandstone formations like dinosaur teeth pictured below. Looking down, you can glimpse more of the Fountain Valley Loop trail.
The view from Lyons Overlook

The view from Lyons Overlook

Back on the loop, you'll continue slightly downhill until you reach the northernmost part of the loop and the historic Persse Place. The stone cabin pictured below was built in the early 1900s by Henry S. Persse, an Irish immigrant who named this area Roxborough after his hometown in Ireland. Look in the windows to see the interior and take a break on one of the nearby benches before resuming the hike.
The nearly 120 year-old Persse Place

The nearly 120 year-old Persse Place

While the previous half of the loop was pretty, the remainder of the hike is nothing short of spectacular. Despite the slight uphill grade, you'll enjoy passing lush green meadows with the famous sandstone formations beyond, as pictured below.
Meadows and sandstone formations on the western half of the Fountain Valley Loop

Meadows and sandstone formations on the western half of the Fountain Valley Loop

Closer to the end of the loop, you'll cross through a wetland and a spots shaded by trees. Wildlife is abundant here, and you can hear frogs croaking and see countless birds. In the distance, you can see pine trees dotting the hills above the rock formations, as pictured below.
Wetlands with more sandstone formations in the background

Wetlands with more sandstone formations in the background

As the loop closes, take the same trail back to the visitor center. This is a wonderful hike, and I recommend it to anyone visiting Denver -- the scenery is way cooler than at Red Rocks. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!

Important Information

To better preserve the park, dogs are not allowed anywhere. This is one of the best family-friendly hikes in the Denver metro, with its short, scenic loop on a wide trail. You can visit the park in any season; the visitor center is at 6,200 feet so snow does not typically stay for long. There is almost no shade though, so avoid this trail on hot days. This park is very popular, so arrive early to ensure a parking space.

Directions

From Denver, take U.S. Highway 85 (Santa Fe Drive) south. Take the exit for Titan Parkway, then turn right. Continue straight through the roundabout and follow the curve as Titan Road turns into Rampart Range Road. Following the signs for Roxborough State Park, turn left on Roxborough Drive, then immediately turn right to stay onto Roxborough Drive. Pay the fee at the entrance station, then continue until the road ends at the visitor center parking lot.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Entering the park requires purchasing either an $8 daily pass or $80 annual pass. Parking is extremely limited in the park, and cars often line up on the road to the entrance station to wait until another car leaves the park. Especially on weekends, arrive as early as possible to ensure a parking spot or a minimal wait. The visitor center has flush toilets, water, exhibits, and a gift shop.

External Links

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