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April 7, 2016

South Valley Park
Fees: None
Website: http://jeffco.us/open-space/parks/south-valley-park/
Elevation: Around 6,000-6,200 feet
Distance: 7.4 miles of trails, My hike 3.4 miles
Hours: Daylight

I enjoyed a blue sky day at South Valley Park this morning. Part of JeffCo Open Space this park is open to hiking, biking, and horseback riding. The trails are of fine sand and meander through rocky spires and craggy outcroppings. While a few of the trails require some climbing most of the trails are relatively flat making this park nice for an easy day.

South Valley Park is part of the Dakota Formation. 100 million years ago as the Dakota Formation developed, dinosaurs roamed seaside beaches lined by dense forest. Now visitors to the park see the layers of rock that formed beneath Denver and were uplifted by the Golden Fault.

I started out in the smaller of the two parking lots at the Coyote Song Trailhead. The trail climbs to a junction at 0.8 miles where I followed Lyon Back Trail 0.2 to a lookout just outside the park boundaries. This trail connects to other trails in the Ken-Caryl Metropolitan District that I believe is private. After admiring the first wildflower blooms of the season, I turned around here, met the Coyote Song Trail and continued northwest until it crossed South Valley Road.

On the other side of the road, much to my dismay I followed the paved Valley View Trail for 1.2 miles. I was a little disappointed to be on asphalt, but it offered a nice view down the road which thankfully wasn’t busy. Valley View Trail intersected with Grazing Elk Trail back on the other side of the road. I followed it a short distance before connecting back to Coyote Song Trail to complete a 3.4 mile loop.

It was rather a short hike, though peaceful as the geese honked in the distance. The JeffCo Open-Spaces are a nice places to hike in April. While it is still snowy in the mountains, snow down near the Front Range is generally melted. The one thing that would make it better is if the trees would have leaves…soon I suppose! ETB

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