South Valley Park

Round-Trip Length:  2.8 miles

Trailhead Location:  From C-470 and Ken Caryl Avenue take South Valley Road and park in either the north parking lot or continue down to Deer Creek Canyon Road to park in the south lot.

After somewhat of a lazy weekend, Lisa and I decided on Sunday afternoon that we needed to get out and get some fresh air and exercise.  Since it was already later in the afternoon, we picked the South Valley Park trail which is only 5 minutes from home.  It’s a great, short, scenic hike and another of the many great Jefferson County Open Space parks.

In 1913, John Shaffer migrated to Colorado, purchased property in the area and named it after his two sons, Kent and Carroll (Ken-Caryl). In 1926, Shaffer purchased the “south ranch” from Frank Mann, the original owner. The property continued to change ownership until 1997 when Martin Marietta (now Lockheed-Martin) and Colrad sold 909 acres to Open Space in 1999.  The park is nestled between striking red stone rock formations and provides for some stunning scenery close to the metro area.

As we pulled into the parking lot, we saw a group of deer grazing.

South Valley Park-Deer

South Valley Park-Deer

We started our hike from the south parking lot around 2:50pm and headed down the Coyote Song Trail.  It was a chilly afternoon and the trail still had some snow and ice on it.

South Valley-beginning of trail

South Valley Park

The park is known for its red rock formations.  Some had a dusting of snow on them.

South Valley Park-rock formations

A view down the valley.

South Valley Park

I liked this shot looking down the trail.  The snow on the trail made it stand out against the meadow.

South Valley Park-Snow Trail

After 0.8 miles we came to the Lyons Back trail intersection.

South Valley Park-Coyote Song Trail Sign

The Lyons Back trail heads to the east and connects with the Ken-Caryl Foundation trails (Columbine and Cathy Johnson Trails).  These trails are reserved for use by the homeowners of the Ken-Caryl neighborhoods.  The public may take the Lyons Back trail for 0.2 miles up to the top of the ridge for great views of the surrounding area.  We continued on up the Coyote Song Trail.

After 1.3 miles, we arrived at the north parking lot around 3:30pm.  Late afternoon is a good time to hike this park as the lighting is best to bring out the red color in the surrounding rock formations.

South Valley Park-Red Rocks

We continued around on the loop, heading back south on the Swallow Trail.

South Valley Park-Swallow Trail Sign

The Swallow Trail is a Hiker’s Only trail.  Other trails in the park are multi-use for hikers, mountain bikers, and horse-back riders.

South Valley Park

I liked the pattern of the snow looking across this open meadow.

South Valley Park-snow pattern

South Valley Park-snow pattern

Most of the South Valley Park is in open meadows but here a small section of the trail does go through some gambel oak.

South Valley Park-Gambel Oak

We continued on down the trail.

South Valley Park

South Valley Park

Capturing the late afternoon sunlight hitting the rock formations.

South Valley Park

We finished our hike around 4:20pm and headed back home, happy to have gotten out for a little exercise and fresh air!

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