Colorado Trail (Segment 1) Waterton Canyon Trail

Waterton Canyon Trailhead Sign

The beginning of the Colorado Trail is the Waterton Canyon Trail segment adjacent to Chatfield State Park on Waterton Rd. This section of the famous trail is very popular due to its proximity to Denver and easy access to the trailhead.

Though segment-1 is 15 miles long ending in the Foxton area, many hikers and mountain bikers chose to travel in-and-out without completing the entire 15 miles from end-to-end (or 30 miles roundtrip).

Starting up Waterton Canyon

The first portion of the hike travels along the water access road along the South Platte River. This is a pleasant hike that leads under huge cottonwood trees,towering canyon cliffs and near rushing water.

This trail is heavily traveled but there is plenty of space for all hikers, mountain bikers and casual day hikers who enjoy the many attributes of the area.

Waterton Canyon Trail through the trees

We traveled in one mile and out again but got a taste of the canyon scenery and the wildlife in the canyon. Big horn sheep are commonly seen on the cliffs and dogs are not allowed on this portion of the trail for that reason.

As the trail enters deeper into Waterton canyon, the trail narrows to a footpath shared by hikers and bikers.

Entering Waterton Canyon

Beginning of Waterton Canyon Trail first portion

Platte River in Waterton Canyon

Platte River in Waterton Canyon One Mile Mark

Trail and Platte River in Waterton Canyon

Trail and Platte River in Waterton Canyon 2

Waterton Canyon Big Horn Sheep

6 thoughts on “Colorado Trail (Segment 1) Waterton Canyon Trail

  1. Iain

    Hi Mary,

    I’m looking for a fairly challenging hike close to Golden, and a good half-day or more. It’ll be two of us, both in our early 20’s, and we’re both in good shape.

    Thank you

    • marynorton

      Hi. Try Mountain Lion Trail in Golden Gate Canyon State Park (close to Golden). It’s a nine mile hike. Or if you want a serious challenge, try Mt Bierstadt for a steep and difficult 7 mile round trip. Both hikes are detailed on this site.

    • marynorton

      The only ones I can think of close to Denver where you can hike, camp and fish are: at Chatfield State Park, segment 1 of the Colorado Trail at Waterton Canyon or a little farther out St Mary’s Glacier. Good luck!

  2. jennie

    I missed the “dog’s are not allowed” portion of this description. Bummer. Took our dog with us and turned back around. All’s well, we ended up at Chatfield and took her swimming. Will definitely go back to Waterton next week without the dog.

  3. Odessa

    I was pretty upset when I got there and found out dogs weren’t allowed. I won’t return, as I prefer to hike WITH my dogs.


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