Length: 1 to 4.7 miles round-trip, though you can wander as far (or not far) along the Bear Creek Trail as you wish.
Difficulty: Easy
Trailhead: Lair o’ the Bear Parking Lot (39.66775, -105.25785)
Why we love it: Easy access off CO 470 and a spiderweb of beginner-friendly trails make this a perfect getaway for families and newbies.
Pre-hike fuel: Grab an espresso drink at Morrison Joe, a teeny café in Morrison just off the main Bear Creek Avenue drag.
Post-hike buzz: Pull off on the other side of Bear Creek Avenue to hit up the Cow, a funky spot with a daily happy hour from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. The $4 well drinks will help restore that warm, fuzzy feeling, and half-price apps like fried pickles and loaded potato chips sit well after a day on the snow.
Restrooms: Find an outhouse on the east edge of the parking lot.
Dogs: Allowed

Three girls standing in snow, looking past the gate to the Dunafon Castle in Lair o' the Bear Park in Jefferson County.
The author (wearing Chacos for some unknown reason) and her hiking partners stand outside the Dunafon Castle in Jefferson County’s Lair o’ the Bear Park. Photo courtesy of Josette Deschambeault

Shed your winter slump on an easy-peasy snowshoe trip just beyond the Morrison foothills. A quick, 30-minute drive lands you at Lair o’ the Bear Park, an open space with 4.7 miles of trails that coil in and around Bear Creek. In winter, the parking lot is virtually empty, too.

Need a quick hike to clear your head in between work calls? Walk the roughly 1.5-mile path to see the gates leading to Dunafon Castle. Want a longer trek to shake off the winter blues? Grab your snowshoes and take off for a couple extra miles. You can head southwest up to 7,340-foot Panorama Point, where a snow-covered mountain panoply awaits. Whatever your fancy, Lair o’ the Bear Park offers it on a silver platter.

The Bear Creek Trail, which follows its namesake in both directions beyond the Lair o’ the Bear borders, is the perfect place to introduce snowshoeing to newer hikers or practice beginner skills. The rolling terrain is nontechnical, and there is no avalanche danger.

Getting there: Take U.S. 6 west and CO 470 east roughly 17 miles to the CO 8 west exit. Follow CO 74 (also called Bear Creek Road here) west 5.5 miles through Idledale. About a mile west of Idledale, there’s a pull-out entrance to the Lair o’ the Bear Park on the left-hand (south) side. Follow the two-way road about a quarter of a mile to the parking lot.

Before you go: Always check winter conditions, including the local avalanche report and weather. It’s OK (and fun!) to hike in snow, but wind can make your outing miserable. Gusts up to 20 mph are perfectly manageable with the right gear.

Winter Packing List
  • Snowshoes
  • Trekking poles
  • Waterproof boots
  • Waterproof shell
  • Insulating midlayer, like a puffy jacket or fleece
  • Sunglasses or other eye protection
  • Gloves
  • In your backpack: water, food, sunblock, and extra layers. For more intrepid treks, consider packing the Ten Essentials and/or avalanche equipment.