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South Valley Park: Destination Guide

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!

Destination Guide Series: South Valley Park

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.

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. 

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.

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

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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