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Elk Meadow Park

Elk Meadow Park is a park and trail system in Evergreen, Colorado managed by Jefferson County Open Space. This program began acquiring these ranchlands in 1977 to create an extensive protected area, which is made larger by adjacent public lands.

There are many parks and trails in Evergreen, but Elk Meadow has the best views of Evergreen and the surrounding mountains. Additionally, the park offers a variety of trails so that everyone can find something to enjoy: a steep climb to the top of Bergen peak, or a simple stroll through the meadows. Several outdoor activities can be enjoyed at Elk Meadow Park. During the summer, many miles of trails serve as a place to run, walk, jog, mountain bike, and just enjoy Mother Nature. The majority of the park is open meadows with grasses and wildflowers for residents to enjoy.  The park has two seasonal creeks, Bergen Creek and Troublesome Creek, as well as several smaller springs that feed very small creeks. Bergen Creek turns into a swampy area at State Highway 74 which spurs the growth of cattails and wet-loving grasses. In the lower eastern slopes of Bergen Peak, you will find Ponderosa Pines, Douglas Firs, Aspens, as well as some small groves of Lodgepole Pines. A perk of this park is that you can bring your four-legged furry friend along. Additionally, if you are in a hurry and forget your dog bags, there are some provided at the beginning of the trail. As this park is free, it is the responsibility of the general public to maintain cleanliness, so make sure you do your part.

The views from here are spectacular. But unlike many Colorado hiking experiences, you do not have to be an expert hiker to enjoy this course, since it is moderate and suitable for hikers of all skill levels. Hiking at Elk Meadow Park offers few trail options. Among them are the Elk Meadow Trail (4.0 miles), Bergen Peak Trail (10.3 miles), and Bergen Peak and Elk Meadow Trail (10.2 miles). At an easy pace, these hikes can last between 1 hour and 4.5 hours without stopping.  Depending on the duration of your hike, no matter what trail you choose leisurely is the name of the game. The environment itself is a very open space concept for being a trail. All three trails begin in a meadow. As you make your way up to Bergen Peak, you will pass classic Douglas Fern trees that will provide medium to minimal coverage for a couple of miles. However, once you are closer to the top, more trees will provide full range, and it can get a bit chilly even on a warm day. All three trails are dirt, no need to worry about creeks and having soggy shoes.

If you aren’t used to the Colorado weather yet, or you’ve heard the rumors about the climate, preparation is indeed essential. You never know what type of weather you will get, no matter what the local forecast predicts, season, or time of day. If you are planning an easy hike, the best footwear would be lightweight hiking boots that hold your ankles for better support, or running shoes would be a close second. Either way, the trail is fairly flat, minus a few areas with divots and rocks, so if you don’t have hiking boots, running shoes will do just fine. As for actual gear, in the warmer season, wear a sweat-wicking shirt, pack a lightweight jacket, and a hat for sun cover, and sunscreen is vital as the sunbeams in that higher elevation. Last but not least, bring water, not just for you, but also for your dog. No matter the duration, enough water is necessary, especially in warmer temperatures while at a higher elevation.

The hike itself is not difficult to reach. You’ll only need to drive 40 minutes from Denver. You pop on I-70 West to the Morrison Exit. Follow that to US-40 for about seven miles. Then you’ll see the massive meadow on your right and you will know you have arrived. Parking can be challenging, depending on the hour and day you hike. At the trail entrance, there is a small car park, or you may park on the dirt trail on the side streets.

Whoever said you have to drive hours out of the city to find a beautiful hiking area has not mapped closer gems. For your next adventure look no further. Elk Meadow Park trailhead is located at 2855 Bergen Peak Drive, Evergreen.

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