CRUMBLING AWAY IN A VERDANT state park, the ruins of the old Castlewood Canyon Dam hardly looks like the remains of a sturdy industrial water wall that released a torrential flood on the surrounding area when it finally broke. Built in 1890 and leaking for years after that, the Castlewood Canyon dam collapsed on August 3, 1933. A storm raged on that day, filling the dam’s reservoir to bursting. When the crumbling stone barrier finally failed, over a billion gallons of water were released, traveling over 40 miles of surrounding wilderness before eventually flooding Denver. Huge logs were floated through train stations, bridges were washed away, and by the end of the torrent, the whole city was sitting in four feet of water. Luckily (and tragically) only one person was killed, but the property damage of the catastrophe was immeasurable. While it was likely just age and a lack of maintenance that caused the dam to give way, some residents who still remember the disaster claim that it could have been the local muskrat population effecting the integrity of the dam. No matter the cause, the ruins of the dam remain in Castlewood Canyon State Park. Either side of the structure still remains and the track through which the water broke through is now a dry, grassy thoroughfare. Source: Atlas Obscura
As part of my time away from work, I’ve been able to do some exploring around the local state parks… here are a few pictures from Roxborough State Park. I’m starting to have a large collection of these, so I might create a new gallery.
These photos are from the Fountain Valley Trail — its a pretty easy trail, worth checking out if you’re in the area.
Here is some information on the Fountain Valley Trail from the Roxborough State Park website:
Fountain Valley Trail
The Fountain Valley Trail begins at the main trail head next to the Visitor Center. It is considered easy to moderate for hiking difficulty and consists of approximately 2.5 mile loop that winds through the Fountain and Lyons rock formations with a moderate change in elevation. ADA accessibility is minimal, though most wheelchairs can maneuver the Fountain Valley Trail with little or no difficulty during good weather conditions. The average hiking time is 1 hour to 1.5 hours.
The Trail includes 2 overlooks (Fountain Valley Overlook and Lyons Overlook), and a Historic Site (The Persse Place).
- Fountain Valley Overlook
- The Fountain Valley Overlook is only 100 yards from the Visitor Center and provides spectacular views of several beautiful rock formations, including the Fountain Formation, Lyons Formation, and the Dakota Hogback. The Fountain Valley Overlook features a viewing platform approximately 10’x8′,and includes 2 benches.
- Lyons Overlook
- The Lyons Overlook in approximately 1 mile from the trail head and sits on top of the Lyons Formation, providing a view of the Fountain Formation. Both Overlooks can be reserved for special events and are often reserved on weekends throughout the summer.
Tommy and I took a hike along the Chatfield Dam Trail at Chatfield State Park. Here is some trail info from the Chatfield State Park website:
- Permitted uses: Foot and bike
- Miles paved: 2.4
- Miles non-paved: .3
- Total distance: 2.7
- Usage: Low
- Degree of difficulty: Easy
- Elevation: 5,500
- ADA accessible: Yes – Asphalt
- Comments: Access trailhead at Dam Overlook parking lot. Connecting trail links include the Highline Canal Trail, Columbine Trail, and Centennial Trail.
- Pets: Yes, on leash
The trail overlooks the Chatfield Reservoir which is located just south of the town of Littleton, CO. The reservoir was built in 1967 as a way to provide water to the Denver area, and prevent large floods. The intake structure is one of the highlights of the trail, as it is massive, and seems to be high security. The Dam and surrounding area is a great place to get pictures of the Southwest metro area and concertina wire.
In an earlier post, Portraits without Faces, I talked about the 500px challenge, and how I seem to randomly get pictures of Tommy without him looking at the camera. This is another one of those from a weekend trip to Chatfield. The temperature outside was a little too cold to be hiking in… at this point, we were trying to locate where we were going. This trip was cut short due to the cold weather and incoming snow storm.
Went out to Chatfield over the weekend. It was a very cold day, with a snowstorm coming in. Didn’t really get much for pictures other than this tree.
As part of a new series on this site, I’ll be posting reviews/reports of hikes around Colorado that are at least minimally stroller friendly. There are no good resources for these sort of hikes online. Hopefully someone else in my situation will somehow stumble upon this site. A lot of trails have a good bit of elevation gain, and typically have some sort of “natural stairs” or are very narrow and difficult to maneuver a stroller through. There are some resources for wheelchair friendly trails in the area, however these are usually low elevation gain paved trails. The trails I’m looking for are a superset of these.
Recently I decided on visiting Roxborough State Park just outside of Littleton, CO. The Fountain Valley Trail is located adjacent to the visitor center and seemed to be the most favorable place to go for a hike in the park. The trail is a nice loop that takes you through the north side of the park. It is a 2.3 mile hike that takes 1.5 to 2 hours and is rated Easy to Moderate. There is a lot of wildlife in the park, with a large concentration of deer, rattlesnakes, and even mountain lions. I will only visit the park in winter to avoid coming in contact with an angry rattlesnake. On this hike, I only really saw some birds, but there were all kinds of strange noises in the brush along the trail side.
From the trailhead, there is a short walk to a fork in the trail, this is the beginning and end of the loop. I would strongly suggest taking the right side of the fork. Not being familiar with the trail, I took the left. On the day we went for the hike, the conditions were pretty good. The temperature was increasing steadily to almost 60 degrees, but there were still some snow/ice in parts. This was a bit of a challenge to get through, but Tommy went to sleep right at the start of the loop and didn’t seem to mind at all. This side of the loop had the best views.
At roughly the midpoint of the trail, there are some buildings that were constructed in the early 1900s by Henry S. Persse. It looked like the stone house was open, but I decided to just look in from the outside. Seems like a good place for danger noodles to stay warm in the winter.
On the way back, which should have been the way forward, there was a steep incline to walk up while pushing the stroller. This was the only real strenuous part of the hike.
It’s hard to tell from the picture, but this was a bit of a challenge pushing Tommy and all his support equipment. The folks in this picture got a pretty good laugh at watching me struggle to push a sleeping baby up a hill. It was clear that this was my first time on the trail. This side of the trail didn’t feature any red rocks, but did have some secondary trails to view points. These were impassible with the stroller, so I had to skip them.
After the climb, there was a slight decent back to the end of the loop, which really ought to have been the start. This is where Tommy woke up and took in some of the scenery before heading back to the parking lot.