South Valley Park: Destination Guide

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South Valley Park is a 995 acre open space park in Littleton, CO. Operated as a part of the expansive Jefferson County Open Space system, this park is a favorite destination due to its picturesque red rock spires and beginner-level trails. Catering to a wide array of recreational activities, including trail running, hiking, mountain biking, and horseback riding, South Valley Park is a great choice for an outing within the Denver metro area.

Indeed, South Valley Park is as rich in natural beauty as it is in geologic history. The red rocks in the park are part of the same formation you see in Roxborough State Park, Red Rocks, and the Flatirons. As part of the Fountain and Lyons formations, South Valley Park’s red rock spires developed in part from erosion of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains and a subsequent uplift in the region around 65 million years ago. So, take the opportunity to explore the park’s 7.7 miles of trails and see these red rocks for yourself. Happy adventures!


Why Should You Visit South Valley Park?

South Valley Park is a great choice particularly for avid trail runners, but also for mountain bikers and beginner-level hikers or those looking for an easy day hike. The trails are relatively flat, with little elevation gain, making South Valley Park a great all-season destination. With a connection to adjacent Deer Creek Canyon Park via its trail network, visitors to South Valley Park can mix and match trails to choose their own adventures. Furthermore, a picnic area at the park’s North Trailhead makes for a nice place to relax and soak in the area’s rich red rock beauty. 

Where is South Valley Park?

South Valley Park is located in Littleton, CO, within Jefferson County. There are two trailheads in the park, the North Trailhead and the South Trailhead. From Denver, take US-6 W towards I-70 W. Once on I-70 W, take exit 260 to merge onto CO-470 E. After about 10 miles on CO-470 E, take exit 10 to merge on to W Ken Caryl Ave. Turn left onto Valley Rd. and the North Trailhead will be on your left in about one mile. To reach the South Trailhead, once on Valley Rd., travel for 2.4 miles (passing the North Trailhead), turn left onto W Deer Creek Canyon Rd. and the parking area will be on the left in .1 mile.

Things to Do

Hiking and Trail Running

South Valley Park’s trail system spans 7.7 miles, featuring red rock spires of the Fountain and Lyons Formations and beautiful grassland trails peering into Deer Creek Canyon Park. The trails here are all fairly easy and level, making them well-suited for beginner-level and family hikes or easy trail runs. We prefer South Valley Park more for trail running than hiking; but an early morning hike here to avoid the crowds is serene. Perhaps one of the best features of South Valley Park, beyond its picturesque views, is that it connects with Deer Creek Canyon Park. So, for the ambitious hiker or trail runner, consider extending your outing into this adjacent Jefferson County park for even more fun.

Coyote Song Trail

The Coyote Song Trail is the park’s eastern most trail and can be accessed via South Valley Park’s North Trailhead or South Trailhead. From the North Trailhead, the trail passes the park’s picnic area and heads on a gently sloped downhill grade. Red rock spires and an exquisite valley view greet trail users from the north. Alternatively, the Coyote Song Trail from the South Trailhead requires a bit of elevation gain. To make a fun and easy loop hike, combine the Coyote Song Trail with the Swallow Trail.

Rating: Least Difficult (southern portion More)
1.5 miles (one-way)

Swallow Trail

The Swallow Trail is a short trail section, most directly accessed via South Valley Park’s North Trailhead, and only accessible to hikers, trail runners, and equestrians. Mountain bikes are prohibited on the Swallow Trail. Most visitors combine the Swallow Trail and Coyote Song Trail into an enjoyable loop hike, which offers excellent views of the park’s red rocks. 

Rating: Least Difficult
Use: Hiking/Horseback Riding; No Bikes
Length: .9 miles (one-way)

Grazing Elk Trail

The Grazing Elk Trail is a southern section of South Valley Park, particularly beautiful due to its expansive grassland features and views of nearby evergreen forested mountains (i.e., Bill Couch Mountain). Located to the west of Valley Road, the Grazing Elk Trail can be accessed via the Prairie Falcon Trail connection (via Swallow Trail or Coyote Song Trail). Or, visitors can also access this area from Deer Creek Canyon Park’s Rattlesnake Gulch Trail. This trail is a great loop add-on and offers a different perspective than the park’s northeastern side. 

Rating: Least Difficult
Use: Multi-Use 
Length: 2.6 miles (loop)

Valley View Trail

The Valley View Trail parallels Valley Road and is most easily accessed via the park’s North Trailhead. As you head south on the Valley Trail, the trail crosses a private road and connects with either the Grazing Elk Trail (great for expansive grassland views) or the Prairie Falcon Trail (which connects with the Swallow Trail or Coyote Song Trail for a return loop). Notably, the Valley View Trail also parallels the park’s closed northwestern corridor, which is designated as a Sensitive Area.

Rating: Least Difficult
Use: Multi-Use 
Length: 1.2 miles (one-way)

Prairie Falcon Trail

The Prairie Falcon Trail is a connector trail, used for connecting the Coyote Song Trail, Swallow Trail, and Grazing Elk Trail. Most visitors use a portion of this trail to make a loop of the Coyote Song Trail and the Swallow Trail. Or, visitors can use the Prairie Falcon Trail to cross Valley Road to go to/from the Grazing Elk Trail. 

Rating: Least Difficult
Use: Multi-Use 
Length: .5 miles (one-way)

Mountain Biking

Mountain biking is extremely popular along the park’s trail system. All of the trails in the park, with the exception of the Swallow Trail, permit mountain biking. Note that these trails are also open to hikers, trail runners, and equestrians; thus, the trails can be fairly busy during weekends. Try the South Valley Loop, featured on MTBProject, for a 9.6 mile outing.

Horseback Riding

Horseback riding is permitted on the multi-use trails throughout South Valley Park’s trail network. Equestrians will share multi-use trails with mountain bikers, hikers, and trail runners; so the trails may be very busy. The Grazing Elk Trail, is the optimal trail here for horseback riding since it’s further away from the busy Northern trailhead. Plus, riders can connect into Deer Creek Canyon Park to extend outings.

Planning Tips

Fees and Regulations

  • Entrance Fees: None.
  • Park Hours: Daily; one hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset.
  • Pets: Permitted; must be on leash.
  • Bikes: Permitted; but prohibited on the Swallow Trail.
  • Camping: Not permitted.
  • Rock Climbing: Climbing on the park’s red rocks is prohibited.


  • South Valley Park has two main parking areas, the South Trailhead and the North Trailhead. 
    • South Valley North Trailhead: The North Trailhead is off of Valley Road and is ideal for easy access to the northern section of the Coyote Song Trail, the Swallow Trail, and the Valley Trail. The parking lot is very large, with spots for more than 60+ vehicles. A picnic area makes this trailhead even more popular. Restrooms are available in this parking area.  
    • South Valley South Trailhead: The South Trailhead is off of Deer Creek Canyon Road and is a good option to access the southern portion of the Coyote Song Trail. This parking lot is smaller, with spots for approximately 30 vehicles. Restrooms are available in this parking area.

Weather Forecast

  • Always check the weather forecast before heading out for your outdoor activities. South Valley Park is at an elevation just over 6,000ft. Plan ahead and bring the proper gear associated with the weather forecast.

Recommended Books

For a well-rounded and more interpretive experience of Colorado ecosystems, consider picking up a few naturalist guides. An easy to use field guide for plants and birds will help identify species and further add to the enjoyment of your time outdoors. We also added in one of our favorite trail running guides for the Denver area, which references South Valley Park and other great trails.

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