Trail Length: 3.5 mile loop (Devil’s Elbow)
Trailhead Elevation: 7,760’
Trailhead Location: From C-470, exit U.S Highway 285. Drive about 4 miles to Parmalee Gulch Road and turn right. Follow the windy road 2.7 miles to Picutis Road, then follow the signs another 2 miles to the west parking lots.
With temperatures in the mid-60’s last Saturday, we decided to take advantage of the nice weather and get out for a hike. With the high mountains still full with snow (this has been one of the snowiest seasons in the high country with snowpack totals in some areas nearly double from last year), we needed to pick something at a lower elevation and closer to home. Jefferson County has many open space options and we decided on Mt. Falcon Park. There are many trail options here and, even though we have hiked here many times, there was still a section of trail we had never hiked (the Devil’s Elbow loop).
The loop we were about to hike:
As we pulled into the parking lot it was probably the most full I had seen it with cars filling both the upper and lower lots and cars parked along the roadside. I guess everyone had the same idea to get out and enjoy the beautiful weather! Although there were many cars, when we got out on the trail we really didn’t run into that many people. It helped that we decided to hike the Devil’s Elbow loop as this trail is not as popular as the Castle Trail. (click on Castle Trail to see separate trip report from our hike last July on that trail).
We hiked 0.4 miles along the Castle Trail and then took a right and headed down the Meadow Trail for another 0.5 miles until we arrived at the Old Ute Trail. The Old Ute Trail is a short loop as well so we decided to keep to the right on this trail and return on the other part of the loop on our return trip from Devil’s Elbow.
We continued on the Old Ute Trail for 0.2 miles and came to the Devil’s Elbow lollipop loop. We continued on.
Lisa taking in the views to the east and enjoying getting out and getting some fresh air!
A short distance more down the trail we came to the loop portion of the Devil’s Elbow loop. We headed to the right.
Some great views of the snow-capped peaks.
More views to the southeast. A good look at the hogback along the foothills.
Some remains of teeth of wildlife along the trail. Not sure what animal this is.
Lisa captured a great starburst looking up at this tree. I also loved the silhouette of all of the small branches against the blue sky.
The trail was mostly clear but there was still some snow in areas along the trail.
Another view of the snowcapped peaks off in the distance.
We crossed briefly into the Denver Mountain Parks. It was a little more forested through this section of the trail.
As we reached the far end of the Devil’s Elbow loop, we had great views to the east of the downtown Denver skyline.
Some more snowy/icy spots along the trail.
As we continued around the loop, we had more views to the north and west of the snowcapped peaks.
Looking to the north, we could get a glimpse of the castle ruins. The castle was John Brisben Walker’s home in 1910. The castle included a library, music room and observation deck. Here we can just see the top of the chimney.
We continued around the loop, back to the Old Ute loop, and on back to the Meadow Trail with more nice views.
At the intersection of the Meadow trail and Old Ute trail are a couple of nice benches to stop and take in the beauty of the forest.
As we continued our hike, we took the Tower trail up 0.6 miles and 250 feet of elevation gain to get to the old fire watch tower. From here you can see Mount Morrison to the north, downtown Denver and the front range to the east and the mountains to the west.
A shot of Lisa enjoying the views from the tower.
A short distance from the fire watch tower is the Eagle’s Eye Shelter. This was the summer cabin for the Frank Kirchhof family from 1933 to 1972.
After taking in the views at Eagle’s Eye Shelter, we headed back down the trail and to the parking lot. A great afternoon hike at Mt. Falcon Park.
As I mentioned, Jefferson County has so many great open space areas to hike in. I love their slogan, “enriching life”. We truly do feel enriched and blessed to live in such a beautiful area when we get out to hike the trails in Jefferson County!