Hidden in between Founders Parkway and Parker Road in Castle Rock is the Hidden Mesa Open Space. Castle Rock, Douglas County and Parker Water spent more than $12 million to protect this area from becoming a large housing development.
There are two trailheads for Hidden Mesa -- one on Parker Road, one in a Castle Rock neighborhood. I would suggest starting your hike at the main trailhead on Parker Road (directions below). The trailhead has a parking lot, port-a-potty, picnic area and several farm buildings, but sadly, there are no interpretive signs.
The dirt trail starts next to the picnic area and heads west toward Cherry Creek. At the creek, cross the bridge and walk a few more steps to the paved Cherry Creek path. Turn right/north and go about 0.4 miles to a dirt path with a sign on the left. This sign points hikers in the right direction for the main section of the Hidden Mesa Open Space.
This section of trail starts flat, then begins to climb as it heads for the mesa up ahead. The trail gains about 400 feet in elevation here. There's one steep section, but it's short, and it ends at the top of the mesa.
At the next trail split, it's decision time. You've hiked about 2.3 miles. If you turn around here, your hike will be 4.6 miles. However, if you can handle a couple more miles, I highly recommend the Mesa Rim Loop. I think this is the highlight of the trail.
Turn left on the Mesa Rim Loop and start by hiking across the flat mesa top. The trail here winds its away around the mesa with an occasional view of the valley below. After about a mile on the rim trail, you'LL hit the rocky section. Trail signs point hikers in the right direction, but this is a great place to step off the trail, find a rock and enjoy a picnic, a snack, a book or just a break with a view.
When you're ready to continue on, follow the loop trail back to the main trail. At this last split you can turn left and hike to the other trailhead, but don't waste your time. There's nothing there. Just turn right, finish the loop and hike back on the trail you started on.
Get a map of Hidden Mesa Open Space here. Hidden Mesa Open Space is adjoined to Gateway Mesa Open Space and Mitchell Creek Canyon. It's also close to Ridgeline Open Space, Spruce Mountain Open Space and "The Rock" in Castle Rock. See more great hikes here.
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Details: The hike from the Parker Road trailhead to the mesa top, around the Mesa Rim loop and back is about 6.8 miles with 450 feet of elevation gain.
Directions: Hidden Mesa Trailhead is about seven miles south of the town of Parker. It's on Parker Road about 0.5 miles south of Castle Oaks Drive.