This mild loop located right in the town of Castle Rock provides hikers of all abilities with a pleasant and rewarding outing. Being up close with the Castle Rock is a treat, and the views are spectacular, no matter how many times you've visited!
Though this route is short, it is well worthwhile, especially if you want to get outside in a limited time frame. Located right in Castle Rock, you won't have to drive too far to reach this lovely park, and the route itself is a treat. Parking is available just off of Front Street, and unless you're visiting during peak weekend hours, it shouldn't be too difficult to find a place to park.
Start out on the John Emerson Summit Trail
. This trail is singletrack, making your journey to the summit feel a bit more adventurous than the alternative. The way is mostly gentle, but as you near the rock feature, things will start to get a bit steep. Push through the final switchback, and arrive at the base of Castle Rock. The interesting limestone feature provides plenty of nooks and crannies for native critters to call home, and you'll be likely to catch a glimpse of Osprey or hawks circling in this area. Take your time to work around the small "plateau," as there are incredible views to be had in all directions. To the west you can take in the rolling mountains of the Front Range, and to the east, you'll be able to see all the way out to the plains. The views to the north and south both provide pleasant combinations of both mountains and plains, illustrating the unique ecosystem of the Front Range.
Once you've had your fill, head to the southeast corner of the plateau, where you'll be able to see the wide, Paul Hill Trail
. This doubletrack makes for a pleasant descent, especially for those whose joints might protest at the descent on the John Emerson Summit Trail
. You'll be able to take in the eastern views on your way down, and the wide pathway makes it easy to hike two abreast. This trail will eventually deposit you just where you departed from, concluding your loop!
Though you're never too far from the sounds of urban life, this short route still allows hikers to get outside to enjoy the Colorado sunshine.
The highlight of this hike is that you might be able to see some of the birds of prey that make their homes in the limestone cliffs above!