Mount Falcon Loop | Mount Falcon Park
Indian Hills, CO | 05/12/19 | 5.14 miles | 731′ gain
Even though I’d had such a busy weekend, it felt amazing to take the time to get into nature 3 days in a row. If I didn’t have to work, I’d be outside every single day, but we need to fund our adventures somehow!
My friend Steph and I changed plans what felt like 200 times over the weekend. We really wanted to do a 10 mile hike at Mount Falcon Park to see the ruins but half of the park was closed on Saturday due to muddy conditions. The western half of the park (where the ruins are) was still open, so we decided to cut our loop in half and do it Sunday morning before our Mother’s Day plans instead. I double checked Jefferson County’s website early Sunday morning and wouldn’t you know it, the WHOLE park was open now! We unfortunately only had a few hours to hike, so we couldn’t do the big 10 mile loop we had wanted to do, but we could see all of the ruins and overlooks that we wanted to see in a shorter 5 mile loop.
There are a number of historical points of interest, overlooks, and pit stops within Mount Falcon Park that break up the hike into short bursts with little fun rewards along the way. The western half of the park has the majority of these spots so we focused on that part of the park to try to see as much as we could. We only had about 2.5 hours to hike, but we were still able to see everything we wanted to!
The trail starts from the west parking area on a smooth, wide trail called the Castle Trail. We followed this for a short ways and then turned right on the Meadow Trail.
We were only on the Meadow Trail for a few moments before we turned off on the Tower Trail. (You might be wondering if we were heading for a tower…and you’d be right!) So far the trail had been relatively flat or downhill. We were making great time! The Tower Trail did climb a bit to get to the top of Mount Falcon, but not so much that we had to stop to catch our breath.
The first stop on the Tower Trail was the Eagle Eye Shelter. What is now a picnic shelter was once a summer cabin owned by the Kirchhof family from 1933-1972.
Shortly after the Eagle Eye Shelter, we came to the tower! It seemed more like a viewing platform than a tower to me but no worries, we still have more to see!
After a few minutes at the tower, we continued along the Tower Trail. We needed to get back to the Meadow Trail which would take us to the ruins!
The Walker Home Ruins were much larger and cooler than we had expected. Here is an excerpt from an interpretive sign near the site:
The ruins you see here are the remains of a grand home belonging to John B. Walker. A self-made millionaire by 1905, he purchased more than four thousand acres of land in this area, including what is now Mount Falcon Park. Tragedy struck the Walker family in 1916 when Mrs. Walker died. Lightning struck the Walker home and it burned down in 1918, forcing John to leave the area. These ruins are only the foundation of the magnificent craftsman-style chalet that once stood here. His vision of preserving large pieces of land eventually became the foundation for Denver Mountain Parks and Jefferson County Open Space.
We spent quite a bit of time exploring the ruins. Fences keep people from going into the sensitive historical area but there are trails around all sides so we were able to see many different angles.
From the ruins, we headed east on the Castle Trail to visit a couple of overlooks and one more historical site. The first overlook we visited was up the Two-Dog Trail. The views were pretty but not as good as some others in the park. If you have to skip something, skip this.
Our final stop was along the Walker’s Dream Trail. The map showed an overlook and another historical site. I found the views along this trail to be the best of the day!
We made quick work of the short Walker’s Dream Trail and soon came to the historical site. Another of John Walker’s projects, The Summer White House was planned to be constructed similar to castles in Europe. His idea was to have a place for the President to enjoy Colorado. The project was started in 1914 but Walker became tied up with other projects and the Summer White House was never finished. A small foundation and pile of rubble is all that remains. A marble plaque states: “Summer Home for the Presidents of the United States. The gift of the people of Colorado. 1911”
This site wasn’t as exciting as the Walker Home Ruins so we didn’t stay long. Along the way back down, we stopped to admire the immense number of flowers.
Once we hit the Castle Trail, we followed that back up to the west trailhead. It was uphill the whole way so I was worried we might get back to the car late but we made it right on time and had plenty of time to get to Mother’s Day Lunch!
This was hike #26 in 2019…halfway to my goal of 52! Might have to up my goal a bit as I will easily attain it. Maybe 100 hikes in 2019? What do you think?