South Valley Park Loops | Coyote Song, Swallow, and Grazing Elk Trails
South Trailhead | South Valley Park | Littleton, CO
02/16/19 | 6.01 miles | 614′ gain | Class 1
I’d planned to start easing myself into some more difficult hikes since I’d let myself get a bit out of shape from week after week of easy trips. On Saturday, I wanted to head to Deer Creek Canyon Park near Littleton, CO that I’d heard many good things about. After looking into the available trails, there appeared to be a decent amount of more difficult trails, and I could build a nice, long loop that would summit a few small peaks. It seemed perfect for what I was looking for so I headed down Saturday morning. The park was in an area of Littleton that I’d never been to before, so I was excited when I turned off the familiar highways and went through a rock cut that took me into the foothills. The drive was absolutely gorgeous and I was stunned that places like this can be within the Denver Metro area. The road took me past a park with huge red sandstone rock formations and I made a mental note to come back another time to check out this park.
A few minutes later, I turned onto the road that leads to Deer Creek Canyon Park and was greeted with a glaring yellow construction sign, stating that Deer Creek Canyon Park was closed due to muddy conditions. Shoot! Normally I check into these things ahead of time but I’d forgotten to today. And of course I had just lost phone service so I couldn’t pull over to find another hike quick. Oh wait! I’d just seen that cool looking park with the red rock formations, what was it called again? Maybe I can just go there!
So I turned around and drove back the way I’d come to find the first park I’d passed. I parked at the South Trailhead, which was nearly empty when I arrived at 9:00 am. I’d never heard of this park before, so I spent a few minutes at the trailhead map, reviewing the trails and trying to find a good option for today. The park, South Valley Park, is 1000 acres and has 7.5 miles of trails. A bit of a shorter trip than I was planning, but if I’ve learned anything so far this year is that things don’t go to plan.
I chose to make a loop of the Coyote Song and Swallow Trails, and then probably add on the Grazing Elk loop across the road if I was feeling spunky. The trails all looked short enough, but I wasn’t sure how steep or difficult they would be.
The rock formations were gorgeous even at the trailhead, and I couldn’t stop looking at the different shapes and colors. The Coyote Song trail started out pretty steep, but then gradually flattened out.
Less than 3 miles in, I reached the turn off to head to the Grazing Elk Trail on the other side of the road, and had to make a decision to continue on or head back to the car. I decided I hadn’t put in enough effort to stop now, so I took the connector trail through a wetland area and crossed the road.
The Grazing Elk Trail climbed a short hill at the side of the road and eventually flattened out onto a sort of plateau.
The Grazing Elk Trail looped around a meadow with views of the nearby foothills to the west, and the red rock formations to the east.
Both loops went by quickly and overall I enjoyed the hike, but I did find the east part of the park to be more enjoyable due to the red rock formations.