Legacy Trail at Gateway Mesa
Discover Legacy Trail at Gateway Mesa
Gateway Mesa Open Space consists of 276 acres of grassland mesa and a mixed coniferous forest near the eastern boundary of Castle Rock. This open space area is open to hiking only. The existing 1.6-mile Chuck’s Loop Trail, named for the previous owner of the property, travels around the flat open grassland / woodland habitat, with sweeping views of Franktown and the Mitchell Creek Canyon area. Hikers can currently connect to Mitchell Creek Canyon Trail on the east side of the loop.
The new Legacy Trail extension provides users with access to the unique northern forested portion of the property. This area is completely different from the dry, flat mesa. It is composed of dense mixed mature spruce, fir and Ponderosa pine trees, a few drainages, plunge pool wetlands, steep open scrub-covered slopes, and interesting rock formations along with ferns and rare mosses growing in the area. Due to the length of this extension and the terrain, construction of this new trail is being be completed in phases. Work began in 2019 and is expected to be completed by the end of 2022.
Phase 2 construction began in 2020 on a segment heading east from the 2019 terminus. Due to COVID-19 precautions, the workday schedule was revised and all outings were held with limited volunteer attendance. Despite limited numbers, volunteers were still able to build 2,500 feet of new trail from fall of 2020 through fall of 2021. That new trail section is now open to the public. Trail users should be aware this new section is an out-and-back route and does not yet connect back to Chuck’s Loop. The temporary end of the new trail section is appropriately marked. Ultimately, phase 2 will connect to the existing Chuck’s Loop Trail on the far eastern edge of the property.
With roughly an additional 2,500 feet of remaining trail to be built, construction will continue through 2022.
2021 project progress
The first work outing of 2021 was held in early June. A total of 34 volunteers worked on the first ½-mile of phase 2, totaling 290 volunteer hours. Volunteers completed construction of a few sections, “roughed in” a few other sections, installed seven different rock step structures, built two monowalls (used to help anchor and define the trail shape) and one retaining wall.
The women's only work outing in October had a total of 31 volunteers, equaling 284 hours. They were able to finish 1,637 feet of trail started by the summer crew outing and roughed in another 150 feet. Plus, six stones were installed!
Upon completion, the new trail will measure approximately one mile.
In 2019, the Parks and Recreation Department partnered with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) to help construct phase 1 of Legacy Trail. The following year and again in 2021, VOC chose phase 2 of the Legacy Trail at Gateway Mesa as one of their construction projects.
VOC is a statewide organization that provides a volunteer workforce for outdoor stewardship projects, including invasive species management, habitat restoration, recreational improvements and trail construction and maintenance. VOC offers the experience, knowledge, technical assistance, tools and volunteer crew leaders and workers to construct trails in turnkey fashion. The partnership significantly offset costs that would otherwise be required if the Town hired a private contractor.
The Castle Rock Parks and Trails Foundation partnered with the Town to help fund the project in 2019. The Foundation received a single anonymous $10,000 donation toward the trail. The Foundation is now working to raise funds for phase 2 of the project. To learn more, visit GetOutdoorsCastleRock.org.