Length: 3.1-mile loop
Difficulty: Easy
Why we love it: It’s a mellow walk through the sun-dappled forest
When to go: In summer, when you’ll enjoy strolling in the shade
Pre-hike Buzz: Visit Morrison Joe before or after your hike for iced coffee or a smoothie
Restrooms: Outhouse at the trailhead
Dogs: Allowed on leash

Looking for a way to unwind from a hectic week? Consider a relaxing stroll through the forest at O’Fallon Park, part of a series of Denver Mountain Parks in the foothills just northeast of Evergreen.

The lollipop loop starts with a steady climb from the parking lot, but once you crest this initial rise, the rest of the hike is easy-peasy. The forest trail winds through stately Ponderosa pine and Douglas Fir trees. When you arrive at the sign for the West Ridge Trail, turn right to follow the loop counter-clockwise and take advantage of better glimpses of 14,265-foot-high Mt. Evans. The earlier you hike the better; the traffic noise often echoes off the steep canyon walls along this short stretch.

At the next junction, after passing a small subdivision, turn left to briefly follow the Bear Creek Trail—the only section of this loop where mountain bikers are allowed. After about a half-mile, turn left again to continue on the West Ridge Trail. As you walk beneath the trees, keep an eye out for deer and the occasional black bear or mountain lion that roam freely through here.

After 0.7 miles, you return to the junction with the Picnic Loop. Retrace your steps along this last half mile to your car, enjoying a close look at a lush grove of aspen tucked into the small drainage on your right. After the hike, you can extend your outing with a picnic at one of the tables along Bear Creek.

Getting There: From Denver take C470 to the Morrison Road exit. Exit here and follow Bear Creek Avenue (CO-74) west towards Evergreen. About 8 miles from C470 you’ll spot the O’Fallon Park sign. Turn left here onto Lines Lane, which leads past the picnic area and crosses Bear Creek before ending in a parking lot next to the trailhead.

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.