The Mitchell Creek Canyon Trail is a beautiful Castle Rock park and open space trail that connects the paved Mitchel Creek Trail to Gateway Mesa Open Space. This 1.5-mile trail is a great example of the ecology and geography of the Castle Rock, CO area. It offers much of the same experience as the nearby Castlewood canyon without the crowds. This trail is fun and there is beauty to be found here. Generally considered a moderately challenging route, it takes 1 hour and 30 minutes to complete. This is a popular trail for birding, hiking, and snowshoeing, but you can still enjoy some solitude during quieter times of the day. The best times to visit this trail are March through October. Dogs are also welcome but must be on a leash.
The trail starts along the floor of a narrow rocky canyon and gradually works its way up to the rim of the Canyon. It then follows the canyon for about a mile with terrific views of the canyon, the plains, and Pike’s Peak towering in the southwest distance. This trail mostly traverses Slickrock making it an excellent hike for the early spring when most trails turn to mud. The trail also crosses through a scrub oak forest which should be extraordinary in the fall.
From Founders Park, the paved Mitchell Creek Trail cuts through suburban open space until it starts to approach the canyon area. The Mitchell Creek Canyon Trailhead marks the beginning of the natural surface trail. The trail starts by crossing a meadow/wetland area with Mitchell Creek flowing through the middle. Cross a small footbridge and approach the canyon. From here on out the trail shuffles along over Slickrock which follows the cairns and explores various grottoes and rock nooks and crannies. When the trail gains the canyon rim, the views up and down the canyon take center stage. Follow the mostly level trail along the rim, through the open space boundary gate until it joins the Gateway Mesa Open Space Trail. If you want to add another 1.8 miles to the hike you can hike the Chuck’s Loop trail in the Gateway Mesa Open Space. This marks the turnaround point for this hike.
When you return to the paved Mitchell Creek Trail, you have two options. Either return the way you came for a total mileage of about 3.6 miles or turn left and walk the remainder of the Mitchell Creek Trail for a total of 5.2 miles. That being said, the most scenic segment of the trail is the part between Founders Park and the Mitchell Creek Canyon Trailhead. If you continue the entire Mitchell Creek Canyon Trail, then you follow the canyon walls for a time and walk past a nice little pond until you reach Mikelson Blvd. When you cross Mikelson Blvd you enter Mitchell Gulch Park and follow the trail to the south point of the park. Turn a sharp right and follow the high tension wires back to the north to return to Founders Park. Mitchell Creek Canyon Trail can be accessed at any time of the day from 9 AM to 5 PM, Mondays-Fridays, and does not require any entry fee.
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