Map of the Waterton Canyon TrailHIDE MAP
Waterton Canyon Trail
natrual areas along the South Platte River, Strontia Springs Dam, fishing, wildlife, starting point for the Colorado Trail
Chatfield Reservoir Trails
The Waterton Canyon Trail is a 6.6-mile long paved roadway that is located in Jefferson County to the west of Chatfield Reservoir and southwest of Denver. The route is an unpaved roadway that starts off of Waterton Road at the southern end of Chatfield State Park and then heads up the canyon to the southwest.
The route provides a nice get away into a natural setting without the time and hassle of a drive up into the mountains. The road and reservoir belong to Denver Water, but the location is in Jefferson County, southwest of Chatfield State Park. This trail is part of the Colorado Trail that travels through the state all the way to Durango. There is also an alternate route tor getting to the Colorado Trail that does not involve hiking up Waterton Canyon.
The views are pretty of the South Platte River rushing through Waterton Canyon with rugged hillsides on either side. Near the end of the road that is open for public travel there is a view of the dam with the water rushing over its face. The area has a great deal of wildlife, including the possibility of seeing some Rocky Mountain Big Horn Sheep.
After the view of the dam, the road becomes steeper. After a short while, the road is closed to travel by the public. The trailhead for continuing onto the Colorado Trail is located where the road becomes closed to public travel.
Besides walking and riding, the area also offers an opportunity for fishing (with a Colorado Fishing License). There is stream fishing along the river and lake fishing up at the reservoir.
The Waterton Canyon Trail is not paved, but is a very wide graded roadway. The trail is open for bike riding, running and hiking, but is closed at specific times of year. Be sure to check with the Denver Water website to be sure the road is open before heading out. Because of the stress on wildlife, the Waterton Canyon Trail does not allow dogs, so leave Fido at home.
The roadway is best suited for bikes that can handle gravel. The first 5 miles of the trail have a fairly gentle grade, but the trail does get steeper toward the end. The overall climb is from 5,500 feet to 6,100 feet. There is also a trail beyond the dam for hiking or mountain bikes that continues on for an additional 10 miles. The road up the canyon is not open to the public for vehicles, though there is the possibility of encountering Denver Water maintenance vehicles along the way.
The Waterton Canyon Trail does not go through any cities or towns, but is located to the southwest of Highlands Ranch and is very close to Roxborough Park.
The northeast end of the Waterton Canyon Trail is located along W. Waterton Road at 1.4 miles from N Rampart Range Road. The trailhead can also be accessed by heading south on Highway 121 from C-470. A large parking area is at this location.
The southwest end of the trail is located just past the view of Strontia Springs Dam.
Following are links to official off-site resources to find out more details about the Waterton Canyon Trail in the Denver Metro Area of Colorado.