Mule Creek Trail
difficulty: easy to moderate
6 miles, round trip
500-foot elevation gain
This is a great hike on a hot summer day - or just about any day with your dog or kids. There are multiple creek crossings, easily gained by stepping or hopping rock to rock if you want to keep your feet dry.
This trek takes you through meadows, aspen groves and pine forests, and there are plenty of places to stop for snacks or a picnic lunch. You'll see rocky canyons on either side of you for a stretch, and patches of wildflowers in season.
To get there
From Highway 24, drive north about 3 miles on Highway 67 toward Deckers. Turn left on County Road 75/Road 342, across from the Red Rocks Campground. Drive about 1/2 mile to the trailhead parking on your left. If you reach the Lions Camp sign, you've gone about 100 yards too far.
This is a gentle hike or fast and fun mountain bike ride, with numerous stream crossings. There are just enough whoop-de-doos and singletrack to keep bikers happy. The wildlife and views are plenty to keep hikers interested.
The stream crossings are easily maneuvered, and if the water is high there are dual paths on each side of the stream for much of the stroll along this open canyon. An early morning hike in mid-June revealed patches of wildflowers, birds and squirrels chirping and tweeting overhead, plump rabbits scampering through the underbrush, deer sipping at the stream, and what appeared to be a fox's tail jetting out of sight behind a rock.
You can turn around at any point and return the way you came; the natural spot is when you hit a new dirt road cutting through the forest. But the trail continues on the other side of the road, again following Mule Creek. Numerous side trails take you to rocky top lookouts.
You can hike or bike as far as Trout Creek Road, but beware: If you're hiking or riding on the weekend, you may share the trail south of the dirt road with off-road riders. You'll gain another 500 feet of elevation if you follow this all the way to Trout Creek Road on a fairly well-used Jeep track.
And you'll have to double back or use a two-vehicle shuttle system.
Please respect all private property.
Most of this is in the Pike National Forest. There is no motorized vehicle use on the lower Mule Creek Trail. Dogs allowed, and they'll love you for taking them. A well-maintained campground is just across Highway 67.
Sandy[masked], call/text if you are late/lost or need to cancel last minute