South Rim Loop

Idaho Springs, Colorado 80452

South Rim Loop

South Rim Loop Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"The Pawnee Buttes protrude 200 to 250 feet above this trail like upside-down vases. The surrounding shortgrass prairie is home to many birds, including great horned owls, American kestrels, eagles, hawks, swallows, and mountain plover, to mention a few of the 296 species that have been spotted in Pawnee National Grassland.

Coyotes, foxes, deer, mountain lions, pronghorns, rattlesnakes, and an assortment of mice, voles, jackrabbits, and prairie dogs call this special place home. Spring fills the prairie with colorful wildflowers and is a great time for bird watching."

South Rim Loop Trip Reports

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We hiked on a sunny, warm mid-october Monday. The trail was busier than I would have expected, but the fall splendour of the oaks, aspens and cottonwoods was a perfect excuse to be out here. Entering the park we passed a large herd of deer grazing on the hillside.
Unfortunately the above author of the book has misread the topo map lines, listing the elevation gain as only 240'. The map clearly shows 40' contour levels and at least 500' of gain. We hiked from the visitor center clockwise on the loop, and enjoyed every moment of the spectacular scenery. When the trail does finally top out, downtown Denver can be seen through the brown smog. Sadly, there is a large housing devleopment virtually on the northern park boundary, and this spoils the sense of solitude and adventure a lot. The best part of this park is that there are no bikes or dogs allowed; just hiking!
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Best set of trails close to Denver and the Red Rock Formations are world class. Wide open, easy Valley Loop adds a little history at the far end with the original homestead. The South Rim Trail gives great views of the red rocks. Carpenter Peak Trail is more difficult but full of wildlife. Mountain lions, bears, eagles, deer, coyote and several other animals are regularly scene on the trails. Also great x-c skiing in the winter if their is snow. NO MT BIKES ALLOWED and should be kept this way. Can even hike over to Waterton Canyon and the Colorado Trail from the park.

South Rim Loop Photos

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Trail Information

Idaho Springs
Nearby City
Trail Type
Skill Level
1.5 to 2.5 hours
Year-round except after big snowstorms; summer can be very hot. Spring and fall are best for hiking.
USGS Grover SE and Pawnee Buttes
Local Maps

Trail Log