Legacy Trail at Gateway Mesa

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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.

After 4 years, construction is finally complete and the trail is completely open!!

The new Legacy Trail 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 sandstone and Castle Rock conglomerate rock formations along with ferns and rare mosses growing in the area.

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group photo - women's work day

Project Highlights

  • The trail was built almost entirely by volunteers coordinated by Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado, but Town staff built the timber steps, the slot bridge and any chiseled steps found in large boulders.
  • A total of 574 volunteers helped on 15 separate work days between 2019-2022.
  • Construction on the first mile began in 2019 with 275 volunteers helping during four work outings. Construction continued in 2020 with five small work days but with limited group sizes due to COVID-19 safety protocols. In 2021, there were 75 volunteers helping on three work days and in 2022, there were three more work days with 143 volunteers.
  • On October 8, 2022, the last scheduled volunteer work day, nearly a dozen volunteers were present that had been helping since the first work day in June 2019.

Trail Highlights

  •  2 miles in length
  • Rated difficult due to climbing through steep and rocky terrain
  • Staff recommends hikers access the trail at the westernmost junction with Chuck’s Loop Trail (closest to the main trailhead) to follow a counter-clockwise route heading towards the eastern junction with Chuck’s Loop Trail
  • The trail is open to hiking only (no mountain biking allowed anywhere on Gateway Mesa)
  • Dogs on leash are allowed, but some of the steep rocky sections may not be suitable for all dogs – please use caution when hiking with dogs

Unique features hikers will encounter:

  • Rare ferns
  • Hoodoo rock formations
  • Remnants of a crashed 1977 Ford F-250 pickup truck that likely crashed around 1981 but was never reported to Castle Rock Police or the Douglas County Sheriff
  • Slot bridge, timber steps, chiseled steps cut into rocks and more than 200 rock steps

A word of caution

  • Hikers should be aware of poison ivy and rattlesnakes that can be found along the trail

Project partners

In 2019, the Parks and Recreation Department partnered with Volunteers for Outdoor Colorado (VOC) to help construct phase 1 of Legacy Trail. . Each subsequent year through 2022, VOC chose the Legacy Trail at Gateway Mesa as one of their construction projects to help ensure completion of this trail construction project.

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 a 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 again funded the project in 2022 following fundraising efforts to cover the $6000 VOC fee. To learn more, visit GetOutdoorsCastleRock.org.