Why we love it: A short and easy stroll with incredible views of Eldorado Canyon and the tiny rock climbers dangling from its sheer walls.

When to go: Any time of year—just mind the ice in the winter.

A smooth, wide path with up-close-and-personal views of some of the most spectacular scenery along the Front Range, the Fowler Trail is a must-do for every age. It follows an old, gently graded railroad bed that is ideal for beginning bikers, runners, out-of-town guests, and families.

From the gate the two-mile-long trail begins with a gentle climb in front of a hogback of Dakota Sandstone, the remnants of an ancient beach along which duck-billed dinosaurs once roamed. After navigating a pronounced switchback and passing a spectacular roadcut blasted through the hogback, there are panoramic views of Eldorado Canyon and Boulder’s famous Flatirons.

After 1.3 miles the trail reaches the state park boundary, where you amble through a more forested area before passing directly behind the Bastille, a rock formation named for the notorious French prison. Between the Bastille and the Wind Tower, located directly across the river, tightrope walker Ivy Baldwin crossed the canyon 85 times on a wire suspended 580 feet above South Boulder Creek.

For the remainder of the hike, you are treated to incredible views of Eldorado Canyon, where you’ll likely spot tiny rock climbers scaling the nearly vertical sandstone walls that are the remnants of an ancient mountain range. Just after the junction with the steep, one-way Rattlesnake Gulch Trail, this route ends all too soon at the park road.

Getting there: From Denver take I-25 North to US 36 West and exit at 217A/McCaslin Boulevard. Turn left onto McCaslin, then right onto CO-170/Marshall Road. After four miles turn left at the T intersection, then continue west through the traffic light at the junction of CO-170 and CO 93. Follow CO 170 another 2.4 miles to CR 67. Turn left and follow this 0.3 miles to a gate, which is the trailhead. Limited parking is available along the road.

Logistics: The western end of the Fowler Trail can be accessed from Eldorado Canyon State Park’s Rattlesnake/Fowler parking area, although this lot may still be closed to parking due to the extensive damage suffered during the September 2013 flooding. Mountain bikes are not allowed on the state park’s portion of this trail.

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Terri Cook
Terri Cook
Terri Cook is an award-winning freelance writer based in Boulder. More of her work can be found at down2earthscience.com.