Elk Meadow Park is a sweet little wilderness escape from the heavy, loud Colorado traffic. It’s located in the middle of Evergreen, which is far enough out that you won’t be sitting in I-70 West weekend traffic, nor is it too close that you will hear humming cars.
A bonus to this park is you can bring your four-legged fur buddy. Plus, if you are in a rush and forget your dog bags, there are ones provided at the beginning of the trail where the maps are. As this park is free, it is up to the civilians to keep our parks clean, so make sure to do your part.
The views here are epic. But unlike many Colorado hikes, you don’t have to be an expert hiker to enjoy them as this course is moderate and open to all grades of hikers. There are few trail options when hiking Elk Meadow Park:
- Elk Meadow — 4.0 miles, elevation gain of 593.8 ft.
- Bergen Peak Trail — 10.3 miles with an elevation gain of 2227.7 ft.
- Bergen Peak and Elk Meadow Trail — 10.2 miles, elevation gain of 2257.2 ft.
These hikes can be between 1 hour or 4.5 hours at a leisurely pace, without stops. Depending on the duration of your hike, no matter what trail you choose leisurely is the name of the game.
When it comes to proper footwear on an easy trail hike, the best option would be lightweight hiking boots that hold your ankles for better support, or the second-best would be running shoes. Either or, the trail is pretty flat minus a few areas with divots and rocks, so if you don’t have hiking boots, running shoes will work just as fine.
If you aren’t used to the Colorado weather yet, or you’ve heard the rumors about our climate, it is true — preparation is essential. You never know what type of weather you will get, no matter what the local forecast predicts, season or time of day. As for actual gear, in the warmer season, wear a sweat-wicking shirt, pack a lightweight jacket, a hat for sun cover, and sunscreen is vital as the sunbeams in that higher elevation. Last but certainly not least bring water, for you and also for your dog. No matter the duration, enough water is necessary, especially in warmer temperatures while at a higher elevation.
Getting to the actual hike is easy. We’re only looking at a 40-minute drive 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 tricky depending on the hour and day you decide to hike. There is a smaller car park right at the entrance of the trail or you will do side street parking on the dirt trail as you enter.
The environment itself is a very open space concept for being a trail. The beginning of all three trails starts in a meadowed area. Progressing up to the Bergen Peak trail, you’ll find 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.
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.