Mount Falcon Park Trail
Mount Falcon Park is a challenging trail that’s not short on elevation gain; however, this lovely route through the Colorado woods does boast some “castle” ruins. We like to think this walk is fit to please the explorer and the history buff in all of us!
To get to the Mount Falcon Park trailhead, take I-70 west from Denver and exit at C-470 east. Take the exit for Morrison (exit 4) and head west for about 1.6km. At Highway 8, make a left, heading south to Forest Ave and turn right, heading west. Make a right on Vine Street and follow it until you reach a dead-end at the Mount Falcon Park parking lot.
|When to do|
Pit toilets at each side
Yes - On Leash
Mount Falcon Park Trail
Mount Falcon Park Trail Description
The beautiful, challenging Mount Falcon Park hike takes you up a steep trail but rewards you with amazing views and a glimpse of the historical ruins of the old Walker Ranch built by entrepreneur John Brisben Walker in the early 1900s. You can enjoy this park in two different ways. Park on the west side for an easy hike to the ruins or, to get a good heart-pumping, leg-burning work-out, park on the eastern side (as described above). Add on the Parmalee loop for beautiful vistas and a walk through nature for a full adventure.
From the Mount Falcon trailhead, head west, directly toward the hills. At the point where the trail splits, stay left on the Castle Trail (the Turkey Trot Trail goes to the same place, but is more exposed to the sun). You’ll climb up right away into a series of switchbacks for 4.0km until you reach the top. While you’re climbing, be sure to look north at Red Rocks Park and Amphitheater and turn around to the east to see views of Denver.
There is a pavilion with a picnic bench for resting at the top but, to keep hiking, stay on the main, wider trail, which is still the Castle Trail.
To the right is a hike to a scenic overlook, the Walker’s Dream Trail, and the spot where Walker wanted to build the Summer White House. An old block of white marble marks the spot. To the left is Two Dogs Trail, another summit trail that overlooks the views to the south.
The trail widens as it passes the Walker ruins and continues for another mile through an open meadow. You can’t walk through the ruins, but you can walk around and see what was once a beautiful, hilltop mansion.
Just as you’re about to reach the eastern parking lot, look for the signs to Parmalee Loop on the left. You’ll see a Parmalee Trail sign to the northeast, but you want the loop. The loop is to your left and sometimes is easy to miss. This trail adds another couple of miles and is a bit more technical with loose footing. You descend into the forest and valley before you hike back up to the meadow.
The Parmalee Loop will connect to the Meadow Trail at 9.7km where you’ll take a right, heading east (if you were to go left, there’s a trail called Tower Trail that is to the summit of the namesake, Mount Falcon). After turning right, 0.2km later you’ll find another intersection. Take a left, staying on the Meadow Trail. To the right is Old Ute Trail.
This will spit you back out on the Castle Trail where you’ll take a right, heading back to the east and back down the switchbacks you came up.
Mount Falcon Park Trail Highlights
Mount Falcon is located just a short distance from Morrison, Colorado, and is a relatively small peak that makes up part of the Front Range. This beautiful mountain is an important local recreation site, offering gorgeous views over the valleys and peaks, and covered with pleasant hiking trails.
Visitors flock to Mount Falcon to take advantage of the wonderful hiking, cycling and horseback riding trails, with plenty of wonderful places to stop and admire the views and scenic landscapes. Today the park is perhaps best known for its early 20th century ‘castle ruins’, a unique and fascinating landmark that provides an insight into Mount Falcon’s intriguing past.
Mount Falcon Castle
Mount Falcon Castle is one of the major attractions on this hike, providing a view of a rare set of ruins in the midst of the beautiful Colorado landscape. This beautiful forested region might be a strange place to find the remnants of a pseudo-Bavarian palace, but the Mount Falcon Castle history is a curious tale indeed.
The castle was built by a turn-of-the-century entrepreneur and eccentric named John Walker. Throughout the second half of the 19th century, Walker pursued a variety of careers, including a stint in the Chinese army, and attempted to make his fortune in agriculture, iron, real estate and publishing. He is believed to have staged America’s first auto race in the 1880s. He loved the Colorado foothills, and purchased the area that is now Red Rocks Park, staging the first concerts in the natural amphitheater.
In 1909 he began construction of a mansion on Mount Falcon, choosing the perfect spot with a view of Morrison. This lavish castle was an impressive sight, but sadly burned down in 1918, leaving a hollow ruin. Walker had also planned to build a lavish presidential retreat in Mount Falcon, based on the style of a Bavarian castle, and he hoped that America’s presidents would make it a permanent summer White House. However, he failed to secure enough funding to finish the project, and only the foundations and cornerstone were laid. Today, these ruins are an enigmatic reminder of Walker’s ambition and vision, and an important piece of Mount Falcon Castle history.
Check out some other great hikes around Denver:
TAs with any trail, practice Leave No Trace and walk through the mud or snow. This trail can get very muddy in the wet season. Walking through the mud limits your impact on the environment around you.
To still see the Walker Home Ruins with only a 3.2km round trip hike, park on the western side of the park.
More info on John Brisben Walker can be found here.
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